Monthly Archives: January 2016

Christmas Vacation, Part 3

Continuing the theme of posting the letters from my grandchildren, here are the letters from my granddaughter Abbie and grandson Isaiah.

The following is from my granddaughter Abbie

Dear Grandpa,
As I’m sure you could probably tell by now, this is a letter. A rather sentimental one; addressed to you. I have, in fact, scrapped and rewritten this letter an innumerable amount of times by now. Each passing time I began to feel more frustrated, why can’t I write anything good enough?! I scolded myself. My words will not be as intellectual as Lydia’s, as kind hearted as Will’s, or as strong as Gabriel’s. They are my words and they belong to nobody else but to you and to me but, are my words good enough? It was actually that single thought that reminded me why all together I am putting these words together for you. It is a single, simple yet beautiful reason: why I love you.

Now Grandpa, I love you more than flowers love sunshine, more than the night sky loves the stars, and surely more than I could type into such seemingly measly words. Never forget that.
So here I am- worrying all about creating some breathtaking, beautiful masterpiece of words that will bring you to tears. Then it hits me. This isn’t a school project with an outline all ready to be filled out and a rubric to be graded upon. You aren’t reading this letter with the expectation for it to be “good enough”. The most you have ever asked of me was to to simply be Abigail Mae Krefta and I know if these words come from me then they are “good enough” for you.

Throughout my whole life you have always made me feel valid and important in any situation. You have always just wanted me to be me and I cannot describe how significantly that has impacted me. As a teenager who is staring straight into the terrifying abyss that is the real world, the huge ideas of growing up are absolutely daunting. It feels like I should be so much more than who I am and I have to meet all of these unreachable standards of individuality and independence. But with you, I have always felt that the girl who I am typing this letter and the girl who I was when I was 7 (who used to drink chocolate milk like it was liquid gold) are one in the same. That who I am is 100% capable of doing anything I want to do. I don’t have to become somebody else to achieve things. The person who I am is entirely capable of conquering the world. You have never once let me be intimidated by obstacles. You never once made me feel like Abigail Mae Krefta wasn’t damn important. I cannot thank you enough for that.

It terrifies me to think I will have to overcome much more without you by my side, but please never forget that while I’m trouncing these obstacles I will hold you close to my heart. I will never let it slip my mind that you believe in me. So whenever I’m a parent, I will remember to pass on these vital life lessons to my own children and grandchildren. Everytime I step on stage I will always remember you as one who never stopped supporting my passion for dance. Many times, in every little way, I will remember you. Even when you feel the world to be slipping from your grasp, please don’t forget that I am with you in your heart as you are in mine. I love you Grandpa <3

Forever and Always,

The following is from my grandson Isaiah

Dear Papa,

I just wanted to start off by saying that I love you so much. I remember when you used to carry me on your shoulders when you took me to school. I remember all the times we played wiffle ball in the backyard. I remember when you were teaching night classes and I ran from my mom and came into your class. I remember how we used to go get our hair cut together. Also how I lived with you and grandma until I was 7. You mean the world to me and I would go to war for you. I remember all the years we went to Camp Brosius starting when I was 2. We would go out to the tennis court and play games of horse. We would go back and forth but I can’t lie you would get me.

I don’t know what I would do without you. You’ve been there for me my whole life and never gave up on me. Even when I was hardheaded and didn’t listen you would still find a way to get through to me. I know I am different from all the other grandkids but I still love you the same as they do. You’re the most awesome grandpa somebody could ask for. No matter what happens just know I love you so much and you will always be in my heart. I’m praying that everything goes good because I can’t lose you.

Sincerely, Isaiah

Christmas Vacation, Part 2

I’ve had an enjoyable time sharing the highlights of our Christmas vacation with the many visitors and callers I’ve since we returned. As I mentioned, I’m posting the additional letters from my grandchildren. Here are the letters from my grandsons Ben and Will.

The following is from my grandson Ben

Dear Grandpa,

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood not only include you but were made possible by you. Those memories were of Camp Brosius. It was the one week of the year that it was just us for, what always turned out to be far too short of a week. This is where I learned to sail, canoe, build bonfires, and have some fun trying to stay on the water tube as you tried to toss me. Those are some of the fondest memories of my childhood. Camp also taught me a lot of valuable lessons growing up. It was you that taught me to be independent and to try new things. If it wasn’t for you I would have never learned to sail a boat. Know that you are and have been one of the most influential adult figures in my life. You have played an integral part in making me the man that I am today. It now brings me greater joy to see you as a great-grandfather to Jenna. It comforts me to know that you have been able to influence her life as well because it will certainly influence her to be a better person.

Your loving grandson

The following is from my grandson Will

Dear Grandpa Jeff,

I can’t express in words how much influence getting to go to Camp Brosius with you and the rest of the gang had on me when I was growing up. I always looked forward to it with excitement each summer. I feel as though it is where I discovered my strong appreciation for the peaceful absolute solitude nature can offer. The way that lake could seem so calm in the early morning made it seem as if time had stopped for a moment of pure serenity. To this day when I feel the pressures of the world weighing on my soul I go to my place of serenity, the absolutely still lake. I will always have that place of tranquility for the rest of my life. There are no words to express how much that comforts me. I love you and know for a certainty that there is a place in my heart where I can always feel your presence.

Forever with love,

Christmas Vacation (Not the Clark Griswold/Cousin Eddie type)

There have been many times during this journey when I thought of something to do or the family thought of something and we didn’t get right on it and realized the clock’s not waiting for anyone. Our Christmas vacation is a good example. Once we got going on the planning, we went after it full speed ahead. Tom, Leslie and I did an Internet search of nearly every 4-6 bedroom house in south Florida. We were looking for specific bedroom configurations in the southern half of the State. Just when we didn’t think there were anymore properties to look at, a unique property in West Palm Beach came online. It had the right number of sleeping spaces, a pool and was priced right so we made the payment and waited for Christmas to come.

We all decided to drive as airfare was prohibitive. Each family took varying amounts of time to get there but all arrived within an hour of one another, arriving Saturday December 26th. The configuration was just what we had thought would work best for us. Sue and I got the biggest bedroom and smallest bathroom. If I hadn’t seen it, I would not have believed you could put a sink, stool and shower in a 4×6 space. I’ve seen bigger bathrooms on a cruise ship. Now that I’m no longer the big guy, but rather the medium guy, it was space enough for me. There were 17 of us, all enjoying each other’s company at the pool, the beach or just grocery shopping.

We ate well, watched plenty of football, got sun, saw some fantastic hotels, homes, and cars (even saw where The Donald has his home).

If you’re ever counting on God to answers your prayers, this trip is a perfect example. He kept me in good health, able to travel, and spend quality time with Sue, Leslie (Mark), Sara and Tom (Tasha) and all my grandkids.

While we were there, my grandchildren presented me a scrapbook of their thoughts of their time with me as grandpa/papa. I plan to publish here excerpts from the book in order to share my wonderful relationship with my wonderful grandkids.

The following is from my granddaughter Lydia

A Letter to the Grampster from the Lidster

Debts: $20 owed – Lids to Gramps; summer 2005

Repayment: Outstanding

For years I’ve been waiting for the day I can pay you back $20 worth of cable car rides.

I’ve thought about that day – the day I could show you how far I’ve come, how much you’ve helped me grow since my high school graduation so many years ago. You would visit and I would proudly hand you those green, cardboard billets that meant a full week of exploration via cable car (those were the days – a one way ride costs $7 now!), repaying my debt on that stack of tickets lost to the streets of Union Square on a chilly San Francisco morning.

But recently I’ve been thinking of a different way to honor the extra few dollars you spent on me that day to make sure I had such a wonderful trip. I’m going to pay it forward.

One day I hope I’ll be lucky enough to have an eager Granddaughter, who can’t wait to ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, the promise of redwoods and miles of Pacific views on the other side (San Francisco hills be darned), who is eager to try all the food in Chinatown and a cool little diner next to the hotel. Maybe she’ll feel like she’s old enough to explore Fisherman’s Wharf alone and I’ll let her… even though I’ll text her every 20 minutes to make sure she’s ok – because after all, she can’t keep track of her cable car tickets for more than 5 minutes. I’m going to pay it forward to her.

Yes – I’m going to pay it forward, the memories of trips to the Big Apple and nightly pleas to see the sensational lights of Times Square. Memories of Broadway, dessert at 11pm and Katz’s hotdogs for breakfast. Memories of extra trips to the Hershey’s store for all the free chocolate and can there really be that many different colors of M&M’s? Maybe she’ll have her first celebrity sighting, seeing Melanie Griffith at Tavern on the Green (even though the Grampster might insist it isn’t her – the Granddaughter and Grandma always will know it was). Maybe she’ll even be so excited that when they emerge in Newark she’ll be floored, thinking this is it because she’s never been to the big city before. But then, passing through the Lincoln Tunnels she won’t believe her eyes when she sees the real thing. I bet I’ll share her pure joy as she sees it for the first time.

I’ll pay it forward, taking her cruising across the Caribbean, hopefully avoiding a seven mile beach hike of tears along the way. I’ll pay it forward making her feel loved and a part of a wonderful family, always setting aside time to spend with her on Thanksgiving and Christmas, always making sure to be there for the important things – the first communions, the birthdays, the soccer games, the graduations. And maybe most importantly, I’ll pay it forward by making sure to always take her out for ice cream, even secretly when mom says no, even if she’s a Colts fan .

I’m so lucky to have such a loving Grandfather with which to share such wonderful times. And I think I understand now – the Grampster wasn’t that mad he had to buy an extra $20 cable car pass – because $20 was easily worth it to ride those cable cars to Fisherman’s Wharf, to rent those bikes that took so much effort to get up that hill, to make it across the windswept Golden Gate Bridge, because that’s a memory the Grampster and the Lidster can cherish forever.

Biking the Golden Gate is my favorite summer activity now that I live in San Francisco – how could it not be when the first time was so great?

Love you Grandpa,

The Lidster