Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dying Wish

I read the sweetest story earlier today, and it was so heartwarming that I decided it was worthy of a blog post. The article was about Floyd and Violet Hartwig, an elderly couple who died a few weeks ago, on February 11. 90-year-old Floyd and 89-year-old Violet had been married for 67 years at the time of their deaths, but had known each other since they were small children in school.

After Floyd finished high school, he enlisted in the Navy. Once when Floyd was home on leave, he and Violet ran into each other at a dance. They enjoyed catching up and began corresponding with each other through letters when Floyd went back out to sea.

The couple married on August 16, 1947, and settled on a small ranch in California where they grew cotton and raised turkeys. Floyd and Violet had three children, as well, and their family eventually grew to include four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Floyd and Violet remained active on their ranch up until the very end of their lives. This past Christmas, Violet's family noticed that her dementia had worsened, and then at the end of January, Floyd's doctor told him that he was in kidney failure and had approximately two weeks to live.

Floyd and Violet wanted to die at home, so their family moved the couches out of the living room so that hospice could bring in two beds. Even though Floyd was quite weak and could hardly walk, he wanted to help Violet up until the very end. When it was clear that they were both dying, their family pushed their hospital beds together so that they could hold hands. It was really up in the air which one would go first, but it was Floyd's body that gave out first. Violet died just five hours later.

I thought it was so sweet how much this couple loved each other, and how it seemed as if they couldn't bear to be separated for even more than a few hours, so they had to follow each other to heaven on the same day. I sure hope that my mom and I are blessed enough to follow each other to heaven relatively quickly, like this sweet couple. Not that I'm ready to go quite yet, but when one of us does eventually go, I hope the other isn't too far behind!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Measure of a Man"

My mom bought me the book Measure of a Man for Christmas, and we read it last month. It's the true story of Martin Greenfield, one of the greatest and well-known tailors of our time. He's dressed everyone from A-list celebrities to famous sports figures to presidents. He is one of the busiest suit makers around, and his company has even made the wardrobes for the characters in many recent movies like, The Great GatsbyArgoThe Wolf of Wall Street and the television series, Boardwalk Empire.

But before Martin was a successful tailor to the rich and famous, he was Maximilian Grunfeld. He was born on August 9, 1928, in Pavlovo, Czechoslovakia. In 1944, when Martin was just 15, Nazi soldiers surrounded the tiny village where Martin and his family lived. The Jews were given one hour to pack up their belongings before being loaded onto cattle cars and shipped to Auschwitz. Upon arriving at the concentration camp, Martin was separated from his family. His parents, grandparents and siblings (two older sisters and a younger brother) were all taken away, and Martin never saw them again. He later found out that they were all put to death.
Grunfeld family (minus the baby brother)
Martin told a story in the book about one day when he was sent from camp (he'd been reassigned from Auschwitz to Buchenwald) to do some repairs on one of the bombed out mansions in the nearby city of Weimar. After arriving at the damaged house (which belonged to the mayor of Weimar), he walked around to the back of the estate to survey the damage to see what all needed to be repaired. He saw the cellar door ajar, so he walked inside and saw a crate with two rabbits in it. He saw a nub of carrot and some rotten lettuce in the crate; the remains of the rabbits' dinner from the night before. He wolfed down the lettuce and reached for the piece of carrot. Just then, the mayor's wife caught him in the act. Martin tried to hide the fact that he was eating the rabbits' food because he knew he would be in serious trouble. He pleaded with the mayor's wife to have mercy on him, but she scolded him and ordered one of the Nazi soldiers to beat him. As Martin walked back to Buchenwald, he replayed the scenario in his head. He was so incensed at the cruelty of the woman that he vowed to return and kill her if he made it out of Buchenwald alive.
On April 11, 1945, Buchenwald was liberated by the Allied forces. Martin talked about the thrill of seeing the Allied soldiers (specifically General Dwight D. Eisenhower) march through the camp announcing that the Jews were free. Martin had made a promise to himself, so he found a deserted machine gun and went back to the mayor of Weimar's house. When he crept inside the house, the woman called out, "Hello?" When the woman came into view, Martin raised the machine gun, aimed it at the woman's chest and said, “You had me beaten because of the rabbits. I’m here to shoot you!” The woman froze in her tracks and started protesting. Just then, the woman's baby (which was in her arms) wailed. Martin's finger hovered above the trigger, but he just couldn’t go through with it. He said that that was the moment he became human again. All of the teachings from his youth came rushing back to him. He'd been raised to believe that life was a precious gift from God, and that women and children must be protected. He lowered the machine gun and left.

When Martin was in one of the concentration camps, he was assigned to work in the laundry. One day he was washing of one of the Nazi uniforms when he scrubbed the collar too hard and it tore. Martin was beaten for this, of course, but when the Nazi soldier left, one of the other Jews working in the laundry taught him how to mend the shirt. This was Martin's first experience with sewing. Martin emigrated to America two years after the war ended, and he lived with some long-lost relatives. This was when he anglicized his name from Maximilian Grunfeld to Martin Greenfield in an attempt to give himself a fresh start. He started working for GGG Clothing, one of the largest clothing manufacturers of its day. Martin started working as a floor boy, and worked his way from the ground floor up. He worked hard over the years, climbing the ranks and doing whatever he could to be the best hand made tailor he could. 30 years later, Martin bought the GGG factory. He's still running it to this day, with his sons, Jay and Tod. Incredible!

One thing I loved most about Martin is his love of family. He talked about his absolute disdain for people who take their family for granted and cut them off with almost no thought for the precious gift they are discarding. Martin would have given ANYthing to have even one of his family members back, after all of them had been murdered. It made him so angry to think of people choosing to disown their own family members. When Martin moved to America he couldn't wait to get married and have children, and he truly longed for the day when he would get his second chance to have a family. That's why I think it's so special that Martin and his sons work together.

Measure of a Man was such a great book. I had to leave out SO many details, but just know that this book is definitely worth the read. Martin is one fascinating, talented and hard-working man!

Picture of Martin, shortly before emigrating to America (front, left in suit). Below that is a picture of Martin and his wife, Arlene, who Martin married in 1956.
Martin has dressed at least three presidents. Here is with President Clinton, and then Martin and his two sons with President Obama:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Heart Day

I got this jeweled cardigan in a beautiful shade of red two or three years ago, and I only wear it once a year for Valentine's Day. I decided to wear it to church last Sunday, since my mom was also wearing a red and black outfit. We took a picture together since we were "reverse twins." I already posted these pictures on Facebook, but I'll put them on my blog, too.
A few days ago, my mom and I got a shipment of beautiful pink, red and white tulips in a red mason jar from our friend Paul. That was a fun surprise. Tulips are one of my most favorite flowers, and these are just gorgeous!
I had my mom take this picture yesterday, hence the reason why my calendar is still on February 13.
I love Valentine's Day, and it's just a fun day to remember those you love. When my mom asked me what I wanted for Valentine's Day, I said, "Nothing!" I really don't need extra chocolate around calling my name. So, she gave me this cute giraffe card instead, which is perfect for me, since I love giraffes. She gave me a bar of chocolate, too. Shame on her.
On Thursday, my friend and helper, Linda, also asked me what she could bring my mom/me for Valentine's Day. I told her that she better not bring us anything on Saturday. So what did she do? She stopped by a few hours later with chocolate. She said something like, "You said not to bring anything on Saturday, and it's not Saturday!" She just couldn't help herself (she never can). Well, who can be mad at a friend like that, especially since that's something I would say/do to one of my friends. :) Don't mind if I do, I guess, since I've actually been wanting to try these dark chocolate crunchy clusters.
My mom made a delicious salted caramel Oreo pie two days ago for a special dessert in honor of Valentine's Day, since we had a few guests on Thursday and Friday. This dessert only had five ingredients – butter, brown sugar, cream, chocolate chips and Oreos (and then you sprinkle the top with sea salt before you serve it). It was easy to make, and SO good! I had a small piece on Thursday, and then another small piece last night. Fortunately, there were extra people around to help it to save my mom and me from ourselves. :)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Clean Kidneys and a New Scarf

A few days ago I had a doctor's appointment with my urologist, which included a renal ultrasound prior to meeting with the doctor. I was worried that the ultrasound would show more of those tiny, sand-sized kidney stones that I've been plagued with for the past several years, and that my doctor would want to do surgery to clean everything out again. Obviously, surgery is not my favorite thing. Even though it's a minor surgery, it's still quite an ordeal overall, considering all of the long doctor's appointments/procedures that go along with having surgery. So, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

When I saw the doctor she reviewed the findings of the ultrasound and said that everything is looking good at the moment, and I don't have any new kidney stones. (Yes!) She's adjusting my medications, though, and wants to see me again in two months before she goes on maternity leave. I'm glad everything checked out well this time, and with any luck my appointment in April will go just as well.

My doctor is so sweet and I really love her. Just knowing that I get to see her makes those long, dreaded trips to the urologist a little more tolerable. I think she really likes me, too. In fact, she even bought me a gift…a scarf. She told me to open it and tell her if I honestly liked it. She said she was shopping, saw the scarf, and she saw a display of personalized keychains (one with an 'h' and another with a 'j') right next to the scarves. When she saw my initials on those keychains she thought it was a sign that it was the right scarf. My mom opened it and it was perfect! It's seafoam green with purple butterflies. Seafoam is my favorite color (with purple being a close second), and I love butterflies! My doctor chose well, because the scarf is very "me." It's pretty, and I like pretty things! :)
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