Thursday, August 30, 2007

Uncle Al the Kiddies Pal

A name my father went by for many years. He passed away last Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007

Thanks to the many that have lifted my family and I up in prayer during this last week.

Following is a letter I wrote for his memorial service in memory of my sweet daddy.

Uncle Al the Kiddies Pal

That was how my Dad was known by multitudes of friends, relatives, and neighborhood children. One of the first things I realized about my Dad growing up was that he had this phenomenal rapport with kids. He would ask my sister and me after dinner if we wanted to go for an ice-cream cone. The next thing I knew, the whole neighborhood was crammed into the backseat of our white Ford station wagon, taking a drive down to Friendly’s Ice Cream Parlor (this was pre seat belt laws) Another time I remember him cramming five or six kids with fishing poles and buckets into the backseat of his green Volkswagen Bug, taking us all down to the local fishing pond for and evening of fun. Al Martin was known by all, young and old to be a very generous easy-going kind of guy. His famous saying when mom was trying to worry about money, “eah Mary it‘s only money” Dad spent a wonderful time growing up in a little New England town called Hyde Park, MA.

He told wonderful tales of his fun loving days of playing high school football; begging coach Skip to let him play, though he was only a scrawny little guy. When he was a little boy his Dad who was a carpenter build him a small boat that he would take out on the local pond and spent his summer days playing pirates and such. On that same pond many a winter afternoon you could find Al playing hockey with the guys, Moose, and Bill Stack. There were tales of him playing nightly pranks on his sisters Louise, and Rita. He took particular delight in waiting in the dark hall for them to come home from a date, then jumping out at them. They would be calling “Al we know you are there?” It never stopped him he always got them to jump and scream.
As a young man Al was eager to go off to war. His was the WWII generation that fought valiantly for his country. Dad joined the Navy and became a Seabee, fighting in the South Pacific. When ever I asked Dad about his war days, he always got a big grin on his face, and said with a little swagger, it was the chance of a lifetime for a kid like him from Hyde Park to get to see the world. Easy going Al was out to enjoy all life had to offer him.

After returning from the war, Dad met my mom, Mary Arena and they were married August 17th, 1947. I always said my folks were the first D.I.N.K.S. (double income no kids). They worked and played hard after the war years and enjoyed life just as it came.

We all enjoyed life back then being surrounded by our Irish and Italian families, hardly a weekend would go by with out a visit from the relatives or a neighbor dropping by. Dad and Mom were the cool couple that all the nieces and nephews adored. To this day my cousin Joe Ventresco claims Al was his favorite Uncle. In 1956 when Dad was 33 they had me their first daughter. Chris came along three years later, and my grandmother Nonie, made up our small family.

Dad worked hard through those years, going to night school and coming one quarter shy of finishing his college degree. Dad’s big career break came while working at Sturtevant Westinghouse, when he was promoted into management. We started moving around as Dad climbed the corporate ladder. It was all a great adventure to him. He loved his job and his life. After a few rough years of my family living with me as a teenager in New York; dad took an opportunity to move his family west. So west we came to this little town called Kennewick, WA. In 1973 I’ll never forget the drive Dad and I took across country to get one of the cars over here; and to get me away from a less than great environment. The last night of the trip we arrived in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My Dad dressed in his denim navy and white striped bell bottoms and I the hippie chick from New York decided to eat dinner at a cowboy steak house. People were starring at us and we were starring at them. I couldn’t figure out why they were all wearing cowboy hats in a restaurant. We felt like we were in a John Wayne movie. After dinner Dad took us both shopping to buy our first pair of Levi Jeans. He never wore those flashy bell bottoms again.

The years in Kennewick turned out to be very good for us. My whole family came to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We joined a wonderful community of believers who were growing in the knowledge of who they were in Christ Jesus, at Kennewick First Assembly of God. At first Dad just got drug along to church with all of us. One special Sunday night there was this rough old, gruff missionary guy who basically pointed my Dad out in the crowd and said, sir you need to get saved. Dad stood up with tears streaming down his face and said yes to Jesus that night. A few weekends later Dad was drug off again to a weekend retreat with some good friends, the Tedeschi’s, and DeVillair’s.. There was a man speaking about deliverance. Dad went out on the balcony to have a cigarette. (He was a two pack of camels a day man back then.) He just simply asked God “If you want me to give up smoking, give me a sign.” As Dad tells the story; about a hundred or so blackbirds at that very second came rushing out of the trees at him. Dad took the sign and threw the cigarettes over the railing, and kicked his 30 some odd year habit just like that.
Dad had a couple of very unique to Al, habits:
One was whistling old (1940’s) tunes while working around the yard, or in his woodshop. (He was quite the craftsman)
Pretending he was Italian by making up Italian sounding names for various items including "Gagutes" and the ever famous "Skanockies" squash and dandelions? Some actually thought he was Italian, but he was ½ Irish, and ½ French Canadian.
Another Al isum was to make up his own nicknames for people and things.

My husband Dan was “the blond bomber, and Chris’ husband Pat aka “the big Pollock”. our newest member of the family Tyler is Tippy canoe and Tyler too… The grandkids when they were small loved getting him back by calling him "the Big Tomato". Many of you in the audience I am sure have your own famous Al Martin Nick Name.
Another side of my easy going father was this big tender hearted mush. I can distinctly remember him refusing to watch those famous Hallmark ads that really got you sobbing. He would not watch any kind of movie that he called a “Tear Jerker” He loved pretending he was this big cranky guy, walking by and kicking the cat, all the time complaining about that good for nothing rotten cat. But when no one was looking there he was the first one to make sure Tabby (our cat) got fed. Today he and Donna at last count were feeding four cats, a couple of strays, one he called old Tom, skunks, badgers…and what ever other wild life that happens to come to visiting in the Martins back yard.
We love you Daddy having enjoyed all the many years, the great laughs, sarcastic jokes, your great wit, the tears, the teasing, the hugs and all the while whistling a jaunty tune…

Here's looking at you kid!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cannon Beach Part III

Wow, my summer has just been jam packed with events. My blog just seems to be a record of them lately. I have some more pictures, but these pictures capture a moment of my summer when God declared His beauty all around me, and I actually had a few days to contemplate His creation, and capture it with a camera.

Creativity...His beauty demands a response, and that is art. It is not about us or our imitation of beauty. Creativity is a response. Like worship is a response, to God, to His beauty. It does not originate with us, we simply respond to what He has created and who He is.

Some musings from a book written by Michael Card "Scribbling in the Sand"

First glimpse of Cannon Beach "Haystack"

First day at the beach

First sunset

Second day at the beach, notice clouds floating in

Second sunset, same spot

I love how God is always changing things up when it comes to his creation.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On our way to the beach...Part II

We gathered and had breakfast with the family the next day. After breakfast and a little shopping at Clackamas Mall the kids proceeded, home back to the Tri Cities, while Dan and I drove off into the sunset. I wish :>) but we did have a lovely drive to the coast via the Willamette Valley. We meandered through their wine country and stopped at two nurseries’. The first stop was The Fragrant Garden Nursery. They had lovely display garden, and humungous hanging baskets. I was given a tour by a very knowledgeable employee. Who ended up selling me two new plants for my garden. This guy knew his stuff. He turned me on to some really exciting new hybrids, (for me anyway) one large highly fragrant Hosta "Fried Green Tomatoes" that I can't wait to plant under my kitchen window. We then drove less than five miles up the road to Heirloom Roses. It was their summer 1/2 off sale. Oh my! I was hardly contained. I ended up with five new baby roses. Lucky they are small little starter plants that fit very nicely into the back seat of our car. Dan is so good to me :>). The first two roses I grabbed were a climber called Eden. Hoping to plant them the day my new granddaughter is born. For you rosarians out there, they have acres of display gardens. Sadly the owner and former hybridizer John Clements had passed away two days before our arrival. The flag was flown at half mast, and the gardens had a sad quiet peace about them. At the end of this day we ended up at the coast in a little place west of Tillamook. We were invited to stay the weekend with two of the families of the wedding party, at a lovely beach house in a gated community called The Capes. It was quite a treat. Right next door I caught Bambi eating the neighbor’s flowers. Spend a wonderful day on Sunday exploring the coastal community in that area, and had a superb dinner at Roseanne’s watching the coastal sunset. A very fun weekend, indeed!

Coming up shortly Part III

The climbing rose on the right is Eden.

Ladies trying to beat the waves. I just followed Dan and made a clean jump to the other side!

Bambi was very bold!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wedding Days Part 1 of Vacation 07

Sorry to those of you looking for my vacation blogging. I got distracted...

Here are pictures from the first leg of my journey. I was the wedding helper. It was so fun helping two of my best friends with their children's wedding. Yeah, that is right; my good friend’s kids were marrying each other. My pregnant daughter was a bridesmaid. It was quite the family affair. Lot's of fun and good times.

Dress Rehearsal Dinner

Girlies getting ready Mother of the Groom Brother and Mother of the Bride
Megan and Daniel

Looking closely, chandelier on right and left, my handy work :>)

The happy couple

Jordan & Esther (Little) Filip

I helped with everything from pew bows, chandeliers for the reception, to dress rehearsal decorations. It was a beautiful wedding, and a glorious time was had by all.

Stay tuned for Part II

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

We are going to the beach!

This picture was taken three years ago. The last time our whole family got to go on vacation together. Notice we all look a bit younger :>). My kids are always making fun of me, because I am always saying. "This is the last_______". This is the last football game, the last senior prom, the last time we may all be together for a family vacation... You get the picture. They just think I am being ridiculous. This year we tried to gather the clan for a week at the beach. Some were willing but others thought it could wait for another year. They think life will always go on the same, but I know better at my ripe old age past the 1/2 century mark. Life doesn't stand still, not for long anyway. Next time we gather we will definitely have a new addition, and life will never be the same for our young couple expecting our new little treasure. So this is a picture of our last family vacation, at this size anyway. The future will hold just an expanded version.

The good news is Dan and I have a wonderful trip planned for just the two of us. A wedding in Portland, two nights at a beach home with friends in Manzanita, and than a lovely B&B at Cannon Beach for just the two of us. I am so looking forward to spending some one on one time with my wonderful man. As things have worked out, it will be very lovely to spend time by ourselves. I have always worried about the empty nest thing. You know the house getting too quiet. What was I thinking! They just keeping bring more people back with them. I absolutely love it that my kids feel so welcomed and comfortable sharing our lives and our home with all their friends and family. I thrive on it really. But, peace and quiet and a time of real rest sound so wonderful. And Cannon Beach, oh my, if you live in the Northwest and have never enjoyed this gorgeous beach; I hope to sell you on it! I am going to steal an idea from my friend Nadine, and document our trip. So I will leave you with a teaser of some past pictures of this lovely beach. I am looking forward to morning coffee at the local internet cafe touching bases with my blog family and friends.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Baby is coming soon!

Six weeks and counting. We showered baby Eden last night with all sorts of wonderful gifts. It was so great to share such a special night with wonderful family and friends. Megan was very blessed!

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