June 19, 2009

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Handwriting on wall spurs June tribute to children

Shirley Vogler MeisterRecently, I asked my husband, Paul, when we had moved into our current home.

Neither of us could remember the exact date without searching for old documents so we dropped the subject.

Coincidentally, a few days later, I found two wrinkled sheets of paper under books that I was donating to a fellow parishioner who uses them for catechetical work.

On the wrinkled paper was a print-out of a 2002 e-mail that I had sent to our three daughters telling them that we discovered short messages from them during a kitchen wallpapering project. Neither Paul nor I remembered that they had made notations on the wall, but we were glad they did.

Our eldest daughter, Donna, had written this message: “We Meisters moved in here [on] June 21, 1974.”

So now we knew!

We recalled how for several years we had searched for a larger home than our first house. So we were pleased when a parish friend told me that she and her husband and their children were returning to California. We bought their home and have happily remained ever since.

By the way, Donna’s message also listed our family members’ names and ages—even the cats.

Our middle daughter, Diane, left a message under the wallpaper that gave advice in a “kooky” way, basically stating that we shouldn’t be doing this project, but if we plan to paint the walls, we are smart. She also noted that if we paint the cupboards, we are dumb, and if we rip out the kitchen carpeting, we are smart. Then she drew a long arrow going up the wall accompanied by the words, “This is UP!”

She was probably teasing us about my poor sense of direction.

Our youngest daughter, Lisa, left a message explaining that, “I just splintered my wrist and I’m right-handed. That’s why [this] is so sloppy.”

She wrote the message date as April 8, 1975, but it took nearly a year before we finished the kitchen project. Then she drew arrow scrolls to the left, where she wrote her name. Under that, she noted “sound spelling” and “Leesa Meister,” making sure that no one pronounced her name wrong.

Now the daughters are following their own adult life paths in a completely different era than when they were in our home. We believe their upbringing has positively influenced and served them well. So my husband and I feel very rewarded, especially when they claim that they inherited their better traits from us.

This column is a tribute to our daughters and grandsons, and to all children everywhere. Even before the 1860s, special days were set aside to honor children. Such days are also celebrated in other countries and cultures.

I share this column in June because it is the month most cited for Children’s Days, and I not only call attention to children today, but to all those who have passed into God’s Kingdom.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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