Archive for February, 2019

Sheet ’em in…

February 22, 2019


Ya, long ago looking forward I figured that by now, sixty-six years into this pilgrimage, I’d feel wise. Perspicacious even. That’s how Dad seemed. That’s how Mom seemed. Grandparents for sure. It has slowly dawned on me though that I know a whole lot less than I thought I would this far along the path. Older then, younger now maybe. I do feel lucky. Hmmm.

Few years back in this space (2/16/13) I recounted the experience of sorting through a trove of old stuff and all of the accompanying emotions that nearly overwhelmed me. Well, I’m at it again and I’m here to tell you that whole new emotions have taken hold. We will have to see how effusive I feel over time, but I will start by reporting that I found the above referenced post printed out and lying upon my mother’s desk. It includes a photo and transcription of a Valentine Mom sent to Dad a few months before my birth.

In another place Doctor Brother and I found love letters recounting the first – chance – encounter of my paternal grandparents. I can’t imagine my grandmother using the salutation “gobs of love”. Letters in German from ancestors in Germany. Letters in English from ancestors in England. All 120+ years old.

Before I came across all that, I started going through my old bedroom which still holds everything I saved (or was saved for me) from birth through the day I got married. Baby book sure. Finger paintings from kindergarten. Lots of those simple cheap Valentines we exchanged in elementary.

First quarter kindergarten: “Budge is a friendly, cooperative child. He seems to enjoy all activities. He responds willingly and cheerfully…” But by second grade: “Budge tries hard to cooperate most of the time…” Gets worse before it gets better.

Like I said, depending upon what I allow myself, or trick myself into revealing, you will go: “OMG! Holy shit! I wonder what is in my folks’ house? Better get after it before my kids do.”

About to give up for the day, I found a collection of Thoreau’s essays girlfriend (now wife) sent to me (“I decided to send you a little prize. This book was my favorite book during my summer in Washington…” ) which includes the following:

“The sail – The play of its pulse so like our own lives. So thin and yet so full of life. So noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective.”

So true. As when two parents discuss a problem in a child’s life there is pure effort. Nothing wasted. But flapping lips, pounding fists, slamming doors do not make for headway.

Sheet ‘em in.

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Go Cubs!

February 13, 2019


After 90 full years of pedal to the metal, Gloria de Silva Gierke died on November 6, 2018 in bed just after putting on her glasses, but before selecting a book from her overloaded nightstand.

Memorial services to celebrate her life will be held at 10:30 AM on Tuesday November 20, 2018 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 121 West 12th Street, Davenport, Iowa. The family will greet friends in the Great Hall from 9:00 AM until service time. Memorials may go to The Figge Art Museum,The Quad City Symphony or Trinity Cathedral.

Gloria was born on March 23, 1928 at Cook County Hospital in Chicago where her father was a physician in training. A few years later she was joined by her brother Bud with whom she had a particularly close relationship until his death in 2010. After completing his residency Dr. and Mrs de Silva (Edward and Gretchen) moved their family to Rock Island where he joined his father’s practice. Gloria loved school and attended many, but credited St. Katharine’s for a lifelong love of learning.

As for many of their generation, WWII intervened and Gloria had a trove of interesting memories as her family followed her father’s MASH unit across the country from one army base to another. In Brownwood, Texas she was home coming queen. Upon return to Rock Island she was Queen of the Mardi Gras.

After the War, Gloria attended Northwestern University in Evanston where she was, for a time, pre med, but was graduated with a degree in literature. Thus arose a passion for the arts in all their forms. At about this time she and her brother were devastated by the divorce of their parents. Both parents remarried however and happy new relationships developed all round. The bond between Gloria and Bud greatly strengthened.

On May 1951 she married Glen Gierke less than a year after their first encounter. A few months of unmitigated bliss ensued until June of 1952 when their first child, Budge, was born. Ed arrived in August of 1954 and Peter in January of 1956. Gloria was an unbelievable mother and neighborhood captain tending tirelessly to issues related to hydration and minor loss of blood. Once Peter was in school full time Gloria returned to work as treasurer of the family business, Gierke Robinson Co. Less than a year later her father wrote to her husband of his concerns about Gloria working too hard. Ha. She never took a sick day for the next forty-five years. She would have preferred to step directly from her office and friends there into heaven, but agreed to sell the business in 2014.

Gloria found time to engage in a wide range of pursuits for the good of numerous causes, including her decade plus services on the boards of the Tri City Symphony, St Katharine’s, and Trinity Cathedral.

Through to the very end she nurtured the development of her children, grandchildren, great grand children, and all significant others. They are all very much the better for her hand in their lives. One felt fortunate to be in her orbit.

She would wax proud and powerful about her sons, her great good fortune in Sally, her wonderful grandchildren: Tiana O’Konek (Nathan), Andrew, Abigail (John Farrell), Peter (Jaiyin Hu), and great grandchildren Henry and Nettie O’Konek.

Chief among the many souls she cherished who left before her were son Ed and husband Glen.

Sui Generis. Go Cubs!