It's hard to imagine that my dad, were he still alive, would be 105 on September 7th, this coming Monday. Yikes. Had I been born when he was in his twenties, I would be in my eighties now instead of a mere (!) 64. How the world has changed since my dad was born on September 7, 1904.
I don't think my dad ever really knew what to make of me. We disagreed on just about everything -- especially religion and man's place in the universe, but he was never anything but gentle, consistent, and helpful. I still miss him, although he died at age 94 in December of 1998.
Like just about everyone in the last generation of Peddes, my father lived a turbulent life. The upper picture shows my father in Poland with his first wife, Emma, in 1932 or so. The little girl in Emma's lap is my half-sister Wanda. The girl beside Emma is her daughter from her first husband, who had died and left Emma a widow. Before Emma herself died a couple of years later, she and my father had lost a son named Bruno who was born in 1933 and lived less than one year.
After Emma died, my dad took care of Wanda by himself. The relatives of Wanda's step-sister took custody of her as it made no sense to them to let her stay with my father and Wanda. In 1937, my father married my mother. It is said that he asked Wanda to make a choice between two women he was interested in and she chose my mother. I guess I have her to thank for making me possible. Thanks, Wanda.
In the second picture above, Wanda stands behind my father and mother, sometime in 1944. The two boys are Erwin and Albert. I never met either; they died in 1945 before I was born.
I don't know how my father and mother, and everyone else who endured such turmoil in their lives, coped with it all. All I know is that I had a great childhood, with loving parents, and they never whined or complained about anything. When times were tough, they sucked it up and battled through until things got better again. That is one reason why I am so disgusted whenever I hear any 'woe is me' talk from anyone, especially if it is accompanied by petitioning and pressuring our political masters to take from the rest of us to make their lives easier.
My parents and grandparents took care of themselves and their families. When times were tough, family and friends helped. They didn't resort to political extortion and expectation of hand-outs. They were proud and self-sufficient. We could, and should, learn a lot from their example. Your family, dear reader, was likely no different. The notion of entitlement to someone else's efforts and money was absent. They were strong and independent. That is a philosophy and behaviour we should emulate; instead many of us are weak and dependent. And shameless, too.
Dad: Thanks for setting a great example for Wanda and Alfred and me. I hope that I may do the same for my own son. I promise to be strong and to follow, as best I can, your example.