ONCE A CENTURY, ONCE A MILLENIUM, ONCE IN A LIFETIME

Your mother, with loving care and industry, has delved into old albums, rafts of loose pictures, and the inner sanctum of memory, so that she could compile and present to you some of her treasures. These snippets from each of your lives, dating almost from birth and extending into your young adulthood, would have perished with us had she not, wisely, decided to return them to you. Give her credit and love for this wisdom.

I truly believe whatever small bit of immortality humanity is granted comes through its children. The good, the bad, and the ugly, are all reflected in those vastly different and irritatingly similar mirrors. By that criterion, your mother and I have done well. I am blessed or, as events may dictate, sometimes cursed, with an excellent memory. Walking through the pages of each of your albums brought those times and occasions back to life in a surge of feeling. Thank you for all of them. On the final Memorial Day of this century, it is entirely appropriate that I write something about it.

From recalling Brad at two sitting on his little red tricycle, throwing up his arms and breaking into a glorious smile, to hearing him call for his favorite book, "Wolling Wheels," to remembering the thirteen year-old who returned home skin and bones from a week at Boy Scout camp after working day and night to complete his bridge over the creek, to seeing the fourteen year-old who whipped his dad in the breast stroke at the junior high pool, to the young man who shot a puck from one net all the way to the other end and out of the Plymouth hockey rink, to the man who earned his doctorate by being a far better physicist than his father ever was, to picturing the grown son who forsook his Christmas vacation in Minneapolis to return to Ann Arbor to look for our lost Patty, to the great spiker who three years ago played two-man volleyball with his dad in a friendly game and beat a surprised pair of Michigan volleyball teammates, to the saint who still puts up my homepage, was one-third of the visit.

Remembering the entire night I sat up before my integral calculus final as your mother delivered her, to watching Jackie later resolutely climb a playground ladder before she was two, actually biting the upper rung with her teeth to give herself purchase to climb onto the slide, to the day she was frightened and imperiously commanded, "Hold me," to her once becoming sick in the car and throwing up on my shoulder, to her bravo violin recital and the convenient breaking of her wrist to miss a piano recital, to the Dolly who could not talk and yet managed to sing the show, to her being a National Merit Scholar and earning her Phi Beta Kappa key in her junior year at Carleton, of her subsequent work that helped bring about the Nestle Accord, and finally of her enduring poverty and the effort to become the smartest liberal the Orr family ever bred, was my second-third of the trip.

And, gazing at the most recent pictures, thinking of Peter falling down right on his mouth in Rockford, IL at age one, his uncle Phil saying, "He'll cry now," and watching him pick himself up and amble away without a peep, of him on his Big Wheel uttering "But I are too little," when I told him he could ride it, of putting him in the child seat on Jackie's old Schwinn and riding to Armstrong High to look at the froggies in the creek, of lugging him on my back up a mountain in South Dakota and hearing him say, "This apple is refreshing," to the kind lady who had given it to him, of the string-bean who came home from middle school in Texas saying his leg whip had worked beautifully on a much heavier boy in a locker room dispute, to the boy who played soccer with me at age five in the snow and all the way through high school when he delighted in super-megging me, of watching him clear 6'4" as a junior to win the regional high jump in Naples as I jumped even higher among the crowd than he, yelling, "He did it," to his eventually earning what seemed like endless scholastic and athletic awards, and of his being chosen at the University of Florida by the sisters over the brothers to dance, all while maintaining the chance to become the next Alan Greenspan, was the last third of my visit. Truly, it was memorable.

My century was indeed worth it, and I trust your mother's was, too. Rewriting history as I do, and still master of the obvious, I dive into the next century with hope and promise. With a few people like my grown children around, the human race has a faint chance. May you have the same undeserving luck I and your mother have had. My only regret, and that mixed with pride, is both you guys finally learned how to beat me so badly in frisbee golf. You make it up by still being willing to go underwater with me.

Love, Mom and Dad
5/30/99

Sam Orr sorr@metrolink.net
World Traveler
and Philanthrope
(Location Unknown)