Tag Archives: Milwaukee

Who stole my husband?

Dear Lindsay and Anne,

Someone has stolen your father and replaced him with a man who GETS RID OF THINGS. Here’s what happened:

Last week I suggested we purge the reading room bookshelves. He agreed. Wholeheartedly. This was my first clue that something was up.

Then, later in the week, as we were preparing for the trip to Chicago and Milwaukee to attend the 70th bday party of Auntie M, I found him polishing some of the old musical instruments — i.e., the cello (no, I’m not kidding), a trombone (not yours), several violins missing bridges and strings (not yours), THE TOP HAT, a large jar of old keys, etc. You get the picture. Bits and pieces of “The collection.”

I eyed him skeptically, and — yes, considered taking his temperature. What exactly, did he have in mind, I asked?

“I’m giving some things away.”

Now, you know, after 30 years of living with this man, not much surprises me. EXCEPT…his voluntary willingness to part with favorite pieces of his family collection. Apparently, he has decided to gradually gift these items to deserving family members. As he puts it, “it’s time.” Apparently, the occasion of ‘Auntie M’s 70th birthday seemed like the ideal time to do the “final reading of the will.”

His explanation is that these were items he and Grandma had agreed to dispense amongst the descendants. Actually, I think he made that up, but it made for a good show. Hence, the “reading of the will”.

You know what? Your older cousins were ecstatic. Their kids weren’t quite so sure about the reasoning behind this. In fact, most of them are now even more convinced that their beloved Uncle Fred has lost it.

I, on the other hand, am sure that over Christmas vacation, the two of you slipped something into your dad’s sherry. Whatever it was…thanks. The house feels lighter already.

Love and hugs,

Mom

On turning 70 and celebrating big

Nope. Not me. This time it’s the other Mary Steiner celebrating a milestone. My sister-in-law, Mary Steiner Lord, turns 70 on January 3. It is a fact that amazes me. Probably it amazes her, too.

This is the woman who — according to an unnamed source — saw Elvis Presley in person. It was one of his usual performances complete with “screaming hordes of girls”. Apparently, my source’s details are sketchy since he was, at the time, just a little brother.

This is the woman who plans elaborate Halloween parties for her eight grandchildren, ranging in age from 16 to 2. No one is allowed in without a costume. Everyone complies, including her husband, Guy, and grown children.

This is the same woman, a faithful Quaker who — faced with living in Salt Lake City with her doctor husband and young children —  joined the local ERA chapter, distributing material door to door, pre-school-age daughter in tow. It was she who sent a tiny ERA t-shirt when our first daughter was born.

This is the woman who takes her grandchildren along to the annual Quaker summer meeting — even when their parents can’t attend — making sure they get to experience the week-long activities.

Mary Steiner Lord (back row, second from right), with her family

When her young Bluffton nieces are old enough to travel without their parents, she invites them to join her family in Milwaukee, taking them to Brewers’ games, art museums, zoos, and revolving restaurants high over the city, where she indulges their fondness for fancy desserts.

It is also she who also generously invites the daughters of her distant Swiss cousins to spend entire summers with her family in Milwaukee, taking them to Chicago and Bluffton to meet their other American cousins.

This is the woman who loves to paint, play piano, attend the symphony. She wouldn’t miss a single performance of her grandchildren — Irish dancing, violin, piano, soccer, cross country. And when her daughter, daughters-in-law, and sons decide to tackle triathlons — she’s there.

But this Sunday, the focus will be on her. It’s going to be a big “Let’s fete Mary” party. But I’ll betcha anything, her eyes will be on her kids and grandkids — the loves of her life.