My husband joined the Ashland Rotary in the fall of 1995. When the holidays rolled around that year, he told me that there was a Rotary “choir” that was going to perform at their holiday dinner and since I liked to sing, I might want to join them. It’s true, I do like to sing, and I thought that I might enjoy being in a choir. On the first night of rehearsals, I showed up at Steve Groveman’s house and was met at the door by his wife Kathleen. Kathleen told me that the singers were rehearsing in the basement and showed me the way. I couldn’t help but thinking that the choir was pretty quiet and when I walked into the basement I saw four people there! “Oh no!” I thought, where was everyone? Well, it turns out, we were “everyone.” Uh oh.
Of all of the “choir” members, Steve was the only one I remembered seeing before. He had played the piano with gusto at the only Rotary meeting I had attended so I was sort of prepared for his exuberance but I was not really ready to be in a choir of five. That night, I went home and asked my daughter (who is fearless and a wonderful singer) to join us at the performance. She agreed, and as you might suspect, we all had a good time at the holiday dinner.
One of the things that I remember most about Steve is his warning that the most dangerous time for a young person is between three and five in the afternoon because that is the time of day when parents are still at work and teenagers are home alone. Steve wasn’t trying to scare us; he just wanted us to be aware.
Another memory I have of Steve involves baseball. One night when the Southern Oregon Timberjacks had a game, Steve told me that a man who was in the baseball Hall of Fame was going to be at the stadium. That evening, I brought my kids to the game to meet Harmon Killebrew and was able to have him autograph a baseball for my Uncle Bill (a huge fan!). It was amazing.
Just a few short years later, Steve Groveman was diagnosed with cancer and was gone from us way too soon. His passing was a huge loss for our community… especially for the young people he fought so hard to protect and serve.
Tonight, I brought an Apple Pie to Kathleen, in memory of her husband, Steve. I wanted her to know that though he may be gone from us, he is not forgotten. And that Ashland is a much better place for his having lived here.
Today is the birthday of my Uncle Billy. He was about 12 when I was born and was sort of like an older brother to me. When I was little I could not say his name and that is how he became “unca booey.” Uncle Billy loves baseball and I remember watching baseball games with him at my Grandma’s house. I remember him in front of the television on the floor watching the game with me sitting behind him making comments or asking questions. It went something like this: The announcer calls the name Ron Swoboda. Then I would say, “Uncle Billy, his name sounds like soda.” My uncle probably grunted in the affirmative to keep me quiet. When the name Dusty Baker was announced I might have said “Gosh that sounds like me Uncle Billy” (because I was always covered with flour when I baked anything). To his credit, Uncle Billy never told me “hush.”
It was really nice to be included in watching the games. I was the oldest grandchild and eventually became too old to be part of the “kids table” and was still way too young to sit with the adults. Because I was included, I really began to like baseball and started learning a little bit about sports. My uncle was a Mets fan and I remember when they won the series in 1969. It was as if they were doing it for us! And then the year I got married they won the series again. It was hard not to think that there was a special coincidence there.
And the best moment of all with my uncle? I’d have to say it was at my wedding. I was dancing with my husband and my Uncle Tom asked to cut in. And for a moment I was dancing with Uncle Tom. And then both of his brothers – Bill and Richard cut in as well and for what was probably only a minute I got to dance with my Mother’s three brothers. It was such a special treat for me to be dancing with them all!
About ten years ago, my family got to go to Walt Disney World because my Uncle Billy was working there and was able to get us in for free. It was such a tremendous gift to us. When we arrived at his house I presented my uncle with a baseball that had been autographed by Harmon Killebrew. It just so happened that Mr. Killebrew had appeared at a regional game and willingly signed autographs for the fans. I asked him to sign a ball for my uncle because he is the biggest baseball fan that I know. And it was so cool to be able to give him a baseball that was signed by a man who was in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Because I planned ahead, my Uncle Billy received his “brownie pie” today (I mailed it Monday). I wanted to make sure that he knew that I am very grateful for all he has done for me. And I want to thank his wife, Aunt Carol, for making me feel so special. They have both done so much for my family and we are all very thankful.