Sunday, March 2, 2014

61/365 The Cat in the Hat

"My Hero"

Today is the birthday of two influential people in my life - Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) and my grandfather.  Both men were born on March 2, 1904.

Dr. Seuss has been a part of children's lives for many years since the introduction of the Cat in the Hat and his antics in 1957.    My first book club membership, when I was three or so, was for Dr. Seuss books.  To this day, they are still some of my favorite reads.  "Sam I Am" is the first books that I read to Brooke when she was just a couple of months old.  She would just giggle and laugh.  I must say that Dr. Seuss is a far cry from what she reads now, but at least she reads.

The Cat in the Hat sits on the shelf in my office.  Every day he makes me smile, think, wish, dream, create and reach for the impossible.  Together we have written many words and measures of music.  We have laughed and cried; experienced joy and frustration.  Most importantly, though, we have lived.   The wit and wisdom of Dr. Seuss have served me well in my lifetime.  

So have the wit and wisdom of my grandfather.

Though I didn't see as much of him growing up as I wish I had,  my grandfather and I were very close.  Being that my mother was an only child as am I, I was my grandfather's only grandchild.  That pretty much guaranteed that I was spoiled!

He served in WWII as an Army medic and then returned to his home in Delaware where he practiced medicine well into his eighties.  He was an ophthalmologist.  How fortunate was that for me, the grandkid born legally blind:-)

Though, like I said, we didn't see much of each other because I never lived in Delaware (except for six weeks while my dad was in training before we moved to Hawaii), we did a lot of stuff together during our annual visits.  These are the memories that I now carry with me.

I remember "playing" with all of the instruments and tools in his office.

I remember trying on every pair of glasses.  He always told my mother, and any other parent, that they should let their children get any glasses frames that they wanted no matter how "unattractive" the parent may believe them to be.  He said that that was the only way to keep the glasses on a young child, which was the goal.

I remember sleeping with him one night when I was about four and falling out of bed and breaking my nose.  Oh, he was also certified as an ENT.  Another plus for me!

He was an artist.  He attempted to teach me how to paint with watercolors.  Have I mentioned that he was an incredibly patient man?  He was willing to change his own artistic vision to accommodate mine.  In one painting he added a cardinal to a tree because I wanted it there.  We have a painting of his hanging above our bed now.

He used to let me drive his boat in and out of the canal starting as young as about seven.  Remember, I said he was an ophthalmologist; he knew what I could see, and perhaps more importantly, what I couldn't.  I am proud to say that I never ran us aground or hit a bridge piling.

We ate grapefruit together.

We read stories and we made up stories.  

Not only did he love his family, he also loved the state of Delaware.  He was integral in creating the the Lewes Historical Society as well as writing several books about sailing rams built in Delaware.  I am honored that one of them, written in the year I was born, he dedicated to me.

A remarkable man all the way grandfather is quoted as having said, "There are people who make excuses not to do things.  There are people who make excuses to do things.  I like to think of myself as one of the latter."

So, today we remember the lives and achievements of two great men.  With both, I have turned many moments into memories.

Happy birthday Papa and Dr. Seuss.