Saturday, December 12, 2015

A holiday letter and reminiscence of 90 years

in celebration of my 90th birthday

There was no better way to celebrate my 90th birthday than having all of my children, in-law children and grandchildren (except for Hannah Sullivan Lehker who is doing a college semester abroad in Chile) together for the long Thanksgiving weekend in Michigan. Twenty of us found nooks and crannies to sleep in at the Lehker/Slaughters and reveled with dancing and toasts on the party bus as we journeyed to our festive meal. The good fortune of my life continued as it has in so many ways both with my mid-west family and my life in DC.

What a thrill to be so often asked, “What is your secret to your youthfulness?” and I'm delighted to begin my annual Christmas letter sharing Ron's secret to the fountain of youth.
  1. Being around young people! I'm fortunate that my vocation has been in public school work. The challenge of educating, coupled with enjoying the enthusiasm of young people and their creative approach to life, is something that seems to have carried over to me.
  2. Good genes! The ongoing nature/nurture discussion of what is the most important in a person's development will never be satisfactorily answered. Although I discover no longevity in my family, somehow my life was put together so that I can have more than four score years.
  3. A wonderful childhood. My lower middle class rearing in a marvelous city surrounded me with family and friends in a life without undue stress. While there was surprisingly little overt expressions of love, I was not unduly pushed or ignored. Though neither of my parents graduated from high school, they provided a warm home experience with broad life enhancing opportunities.
  4. Throughout my life I have been aided by a caring government. Surely I resonate to President Obama's statement that "I did not build … life........... alone". Public schools started my academic learning, the military continued my education and I completed three college degrees through the G.I. Bill, Additionally the life of Regina and two of my children have been extended because the government that provides kidney transplants and I have a pension for my years of work in education in Michigan that has made it possible for me to enjoy my senior years. Undoubtedly the greatest joy of this year was Kris' successful transplant of a kidney from one of her many offering dear friends.
  5. My life has been amazingly free from undue anxiety and concern. I truly believe that this begins with monetary security, and although I have not been blessed with great wealth, I have been very comfortable and have not worried about basic needs. My life has been enriched by being a part of faith communities that focused on the meaning and purpose of life, and I was blessed by having employment in which I felt my abilities and talents could be used and appropriately rewarded.
  6. I've had the lifelong support of two supportive partners, a loving family and friends.

Thus I am taking two years to celebrate the big 90 and find I am living one of the best periods of my life. I've built my birthday celebration over a two year period in which I have all of my four children, their spouses and my nine grandchildren spend a long weekend with Linda and me in my adopted home city, Washington DC which I've grown to love so very much. It began in June with grandson David Debacher. How marvelous that he became engaged to Karin Borkowski and she and her son Jackson joined us. During the year I've been a part of exciting events for grandchildren like new jobs, a semester in Chile, a high school drum major, Kalamazoo College basketball, a semester around the world at sea, and completing a Masters Degree. I hope to get all visits in before the celebration ends in the fall of 2016 when Linda and I take an extended cruise through Mediterranean ports.

But in the spirit of nostalgia I find happiness in reminiscing about other joyous stages of my life. Indeed Shakespeare was right on target in As You Like It when he spoke of the ages of man being seven. I don't recall "mewling and puking in my mother's arms" and I hope I shall not “end this strange eventful history in second childishness and mere oblivion: sans teeth, sans eyes sans taste sans everything."

Indeed let me close by sharing with you my other best eras:
  1. A happy childhood and youth in San Antonio, one of Americas four unique cities. 
  2. Going “Up North” to Illinois for my final two years of college highlighted by basketball, student leadership and above all finding my life partner, Regina Wacker.
  3. Becoming established in a lifelong lifestyle and career in Milan, Michigan and beginning a family.
  4. Completing our family in Ann Arbor and finding broader career opportunities.
  5. Raising my family with Regina in Muskegon, Michigan, where I spent the most fulfilling and satisfying 15 years of my professional career as a junior high school principal...
  6. Discovering true retirement happiness in Washington, D. C. with Linda Greensfelder as a new partner.
  7. Fending off oblivion by maintaining an active interest in life and preparing to go beyond Shakespeare's seven stages.

Sending my personal thoughts to each of you for personal joy and peace for the world in the year ahead.

Ron Lehker

1 comment:

  1. That is amazing to hear about 90th birthday dear. I am happy for that. My wishes are always with you. Can you suggest me how I should celebrate 80th birthday of my mom. I am planning to hire Los Angeles venues so that it will be a grand party on that day.