Participants: Earl, Mom, Dennis, Jennifer, Jody’s sister Kim (husband Jon & three-year-old daughter Rose), sister Lori (husband Steve, son Luke and friend Jessica), sister Kysa and friend Jim, brother-in-law Lee, Cocoa the Small but mighty dog
Location: Onawa, IA
Date: February 7, 2007
Event: Kysa’s Birthday
Family Members (In order of appearance): Luke sitting on small kitchen table; Kysa in striped sweater; Mom & Earl in corner; Steve in doorway; Lori in overalls; Lee at dining room table with Rosie (in pink boots); Cocoa on floor in doorway; Dennis coming through doorway; Jim in yellow shirt; Jon in beard by sink; Jessica in front of Luke at table; Jennifer with long blonde hair in dining room…and closing with the way I most remember Earl…smiling, pushing up his glasses, laughing, loving and enjoying his family.
On February 7, 2007, I had my first opportunity to “film” one of these events with my new Digimax camera (with built-in Movie Clip mode) I’d received for Christmas from my son Bill and his wife Jen. I had no idea what a priceless gift this fruit would bear: video footage of my stepfather — “Dad Earl” Thelander — taken six months before he died from third-degree burns sustained when cowardly copper thieves exchanged around $15 worth of copper wiring for a good man’s life.
This video, however, is intended to celebrate the countless happy times my family and I shared with him…the way I most remember Dad Earl.
The event is my sister Kysa’s birthday, held in my 100-year-old home despite kitchen and dining room renovations. That’s the great thing about a large, loving family, as you’ll see; they’ll gather to celebrate a birthday or special occasion, and, in the midst of all the have-more-cake-and-ice-creams and kids and dogs and laughter and love, they’ll somehow overlook the make-shift kitchen counters and yet-to-be refinished hardwood floors poking out beneath a host of mismatched area rugs.
They know what’s important.
Despite my amateurish (and first ever) attempt at film recording, I managed to put together a short video encompassing the event, and then, later, extracted sections from it for the five-minute clip shown above.
There are no “official” rolling credits, though I hope Grayson Hugh will understand my using here his lyrical and poignant “I’ll Remember You” composition. There simply was no runner-up.
On February 7, 2008, my family held a double birthday party celebration for my sister Kysa and her best friend, Denise. (Denise’s birthday was just five days later on the 12th.) My sister Lori graciously hosted the event at her home.
We’d all been in need of a good reason to laugh again. We’d just lost “Dad Earl” to the copper thieves five months earlier, and then Mom had been diagnosed with the breast cancer right after his funeral and had the mastectomy. She’d only recently begun chemotherapy (note her cute khaki cap where her hair used to be), but this was one of the first times I’d really seen her smile since it all began.
Please forgive my sometimes unsteady hand with the camera; it appears I wanted to videotape everything and everyone all at once. At least my intentions were good.
The event is my sister Kysa’s birthday, held in my 100-year-old home despite major kitchen and dining room renovations (which we completed the following month). That’s the great thing about a large, loving family; they’ll gather to celebrate a birthday or special occasion and somehow overlook the make-shift kitchen counters and yet-to-be refinished hardwood floors poking out beneath a host of mismatched area rugs.
They know what’s important.
Despite my first ever attempt at video recording (on a Digimax camera I received Christmas 2006 from my son Bill and his wife Jen), I managed to put together a short video encompassing the event.
I dedicate this video to my sister Kysa (after all, it was her birthday), and also to my late beloved stepfather, Earl Thelander, who lives on within all our hearts.