Dear Lou

At 97, you still got up early on Sunday to get the Tribune on your front door.  You read it thoroughly- still concerned with politics and news.  There were books everywhere in your apartment- and you had read them all.  The contents varied between politics, history, art and opera, with fiction thrown in once in awhile.  We were both reading Willa Cather together, but you stuck it out longer than I did.  I have always meant to go back.  I only stopped because the book was overdue at the library.  My Antonia.  I really did enjoy it- it just took awhile.

I loved to listen to the stories- to bring my son to hear them, too.  What better way to learn history than to hear it told by someone who had been there.  I mentioned you the other day when I was discussing the civil war with someone.   (That’s what we’re studying now.)  I was telling her that you were the only person I knew that had known people from the civil war.  I remember you talking about them coming regularly to see your family.  How much you saw in 97 years!  How many things had changed- some for the good and others for the bad.

It was always so nice to hear you talk of the fond memories you had- of your life, your family, of gran, of me.  You always made me feel like I was someone special.  And, I hope you always knew that you were someone special to me, as well.  There were times you helped me out when I needed it most.  And, although I appreciated that greatly, it was not what I appreciated most.  

You were one of the most kind, generous, loving, interesting, brilliant men I knew.  I will always remember sitting in your apartment talking with you, listening to you.  And, sharing my thoughts and life with you.  Because you always asked, always remembered what was going on with me, and I knew you always cared about me. 

Although circumstances and people made it impossible to see you in recent months, I still thought about you often.  And, I know you are happy now- that you deeply missed your family and friends who had already gone.  But, selfishly, I am sad.  Just as you missed them, I will now miss you.   Goodbye, my friend- until we meet again someday.

Lou Vandenberg- January 16, 1910- September 15, 2007

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