Monday, January 14, 2019

February 1946, A Move and More

". . . to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but spiritually."
Fredreick Buechner, Listening to Your Life, Dec. 10

I began to track down my life stories some time ago, but only recently became serious about writing a book. I joke about the fact that in chapter seven I am only twenty-one months old! I have yet such a long way to go, so many stories to uncover. Therefore, this goal must become my full-time job before I run out of time!

Years and years of weekly letters from my parents to theirs provide wonderful resource material. I have culled quotes and stories from these up to February 24, 1946.

In this post I will share some of what I remembered and learned as I researched the historic context. The big surprise was when I realized that Juan Domingo Perón was elected to the presidency of Argentina at that early date, February 24, 1946, and that Peronismo became a movement that endures today.

Evita y Juan Domingo Perón
Some childhood memories stand out:
  • Portraits of the presidential couple hung everywhere and we regularly sang La Marcha Peronista, the Peronist rallying song in school. I did not remember it being so long--nine stanzas. I only recall the first one and the refrain.
  • The Eva Perón Foundation made and distributed clothing to school children. My little dress was a yellow flowery print. I think they were handed out indiscriminately in school. If I remember correctly it didn't fit, was not sewn well and I never wore it.
  • During our return voyage after our first furlough in the US, we were informed of Eva Perón's death and asked to observe a moment of silence.
As an adult I read about Evita and also watched the musical--an artistically accurate portrayal of that enigmatic period of history and of a person who became a legend. Madonna's performance in the role of Evita had to be her best ever.

The chapter focused on the move to our first home in Argentina. I was curious about location and distances between the places mentioned and any other interesting and relevant facts. The map helped. But I find that I can easily spend too much time researching and learning and not enough actually writing.

January 10, marked a significant anniversary--seven years from the day we moved into our rebuilt home. Seven months to the day from the housefire, and after a long day of packing, we were finally home.

Home Sweet home
Memories of the housefire remind me of why I feel compelled to write. As I watched the house going up in flames, I reminded God that he was able to protect whatever was important. He did just that and because letters and photos pertaining to our life stories were preserved amazingly in the rubble, I understood that these were important to him too!

Among the ashes

Other memories that surfaced this week:

Five years ago Sam was still hospitalized after mayor brain surgery Christmas Eve and a later return due to infection, but was on the mend. Every reminder fills us with gratitude for God's protection and healing.

A year ago Stephan was carving ice on the top of a mountain in Slovakia.
And this weekend he was in Carmel, Indiana, at their Festival of Ice. We went Sunday afternoon for the speed carving competitions. Such a fun and entertaining event!

Are you tracking your life stories?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A new focus

A new year, a new beginning, a new presentation and a new focus--my word for 2019.
The new header, title and description reflect the change.
For years now, I felt increasingly compelled to gather and write down my life stories. Documents and resources have come to me and the memories bombard me faster than I can record them.
There are so many phases and layers to the long years and the many wanderings. Perhaps that explains my difficult progress. The task is overwhelming.
To aid in the process, I decided to take note of those reminders from the past as they come to me. In the first week alone, each day brought back a glimpse into a different time in life.
This transition from photo journal to memoirish posts will likely be gradual and experimental (it's hard to break old habits) and I may continue to include the memory-making highlights of the week.

January 1
The melody and lyrics of a Spanish hymn repeated throughout the day as a reminder of my life-long goal.
Jesús, yo he prometido servirte con amor.
Concédeme tu gracia, mi amigo y salvador. 
No temeré la lucha si tú a mi lado estás. 
Ni perderé el camino si tú guiando vas.

Jesus, I have promised to serve you with love. 
Grant me your grace, my saviour and friend. 
I will not fear the struggle if you are by my side. 
Nor will I lose my way if you are guiding me. 
That was the day we heard that Malachi became engaged to Lexi Meacham!

I thought about him and reflected on what he shared with the family during our family talent night. He is preparing for youth ministry, working toward an MDiv degree.
I could see him with his Bible and notebook, and wondered whether he keeps a record of each talk, date and place, like my Dad, his great grandfather.
One of the treasures I inherited is a large box of Daddy's sermons.

January 2
Michael discovered what had caused the "sonic boom" we heard and felt on New Year's Eve. The strong winds that night brought down a large tree that had the zip line attached to it. The cable in turn brought down, and broke in two places, the corner post holding up the deck. That was memorable.
He has been working every day since then to repair the damage.

January 3
My brother Lynn was born 71 years ago in Río Cuarto, Argentina. This is his second celebration in heaven, if such happens there! We are left here for awhile with only the memories.

January 4
We were reminded of the day 31 years ago when the first O.M. ship ran aground. Here is a good collection of photos and the story of that memorable event.
Before the M/V Logos set out on its first voyage, we were onboard for a couple weeks. Michael was helping repair navigational equipment.

January 5
Ivan, brother number three, was born sixty one years ago on this day. We were in the US for a year living with my grandparents in Pennsylvania. I was in eighth grade.

This is also a big day for the robotics team, the Kick-Off to reveal the 2019 game--Destination: Deep Space. Michael gave a fascinating presentation titled, "What's Up In Space?" Unfortunately, the brilliant sunshine pouring in through enormous windows made it impossible to see the power point on the big screen. Fortunately, it was readable on a tv screen on the side.

January 6--Día de Reyes (Day of the Magi, King's Day or Epiphany)
A memory, appropriate to the holiday, both sweet and sad, is this favorite photo of the foster grandchildren we were blessed to enjoy for sixteen months before they were relocated. They were dressed up as the Three Kings for our Nativity scene that Christmas.

We may never understand why they were taken away, nor ever know what became of them. We trust God to look after them, now teenagers.


Throughout the week communications arrived from different sources around the world, each representing a different era of my life.

Mari, from Yucatán, Mexico, sent a very meaningful greeting for the New Year. We met when I was teaching at Indiana Wesleyan University and took student groups to her small town, Xocenpich. She was a very bright and promising teenager. We saw her through college. She is now a manager at a large department store.

Her mother, Herlinda, was the cook for our team. She and I jogged together, talked and shared about faith and life. The little town has since entered the cyberworld and even the humblest have access to the internet. Herlinda signed onto Facebook as Linda, sent me a friend request, and later attempted a call. I am just as inexperienced using that feature, so our atempt at conversation was very awkward, but we did see one another after ten years!

Jazmine was a most helpful student assistant the year I was the only full-time language instructor at IWU. I wished her a happy birthday and she responded that she now talks about her experience as lab assistant in a Pilot Program that prepares students to survive college life. Many of them are headed to American universities. She lives in China with her husband and daughter.

Another chat was with Celia, who lives in southern Argentina. We were in the same graduating class and were paired for our student teaching experience. She sent me a photo of the note I wrote in her memory book back in 1962!

My life growing up in Argentina will be the focus from now on. My grandmother's five-year diary (pictured in the header) was one of the resources I started with.

Which of the stories mentioned will be included in Part 1 about my early childhood?

Which one of the eras or memories would you be most interested in reading about?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Week 52: The End

The day after our Christmas gathering, we set off for a family getaway in a vacation rental house near Madison, IN.

Upon arrival each family chose a bedroom and explored the premises. 

I found a corner to finish writing last week's Meemaw Moments so as to move on to all the new adventures awaiting us.

Each family was responsible for one or two meals. Michael started us out with a chili supper. 
Kayla and Matt made breakfast the next morning--french toast, bacon and eggs.

Matt and Kayla--french toast, bacon and eggs

Some are eating breakfast. Abuelo is teaching Rebecca how to play chess!!!

The ping pong table in the room beyond the dining room was a busy place, almost in constant use.

And so were the dining room tables, for a variety of games. 
Settlers of Catan went on late into the night, or was it morning?

The most memorably hilarious moments happened while playing Superfights. Unforgettable! 

It was so sweet to watch the two youngest playing together almost constantly.

The downstairs office, claimed by Leah as their bedroom, also became a  general gathering area with a good desk for art projects and more.

Notice Rebecca's snake

Leah's gift, a 500-piece puzzle, was the perfect-size family project for a three-day stay.

Karen encouraged us to exercise by setting times when we could join her in a run or yoga routine.

One afternoon we all drove to Clifty Falls State Park to explore and do some hiking. 

Madison's landmark smokestacks

The weather was perfect and the views spectacular.

Trail # 7

The three vehicles got separated and one ended up on the other end of the park.
Trail #4

For our last night together, Leah promoted and planned the first annual Koch Klan talent or variety show with the following acts:
  • Sam Koch family Nativity play, Karen as narrator, actors reading their parts off the cell phones.
  • Malachi shared an example of what he'd been learning at a recent seminar about contemporary youth.
  • Elijah played the trumpet and solved a rubik's cube puzzle under 1".
  • There were several dance acts
  • I read a story from my childhood--Christmas 1945.
  • Michael recited a mixed-up version of one of Aesop's fables - "The Mion and the Louse.
    Top: Mary, Joseph and baby in the stable; Malachi's talk
    Bottom: Grandpa's funny story; Kayla and Rebecca do the "Baby Shark"

This ends the summary of our family vacation and also marks the end of Meemaw Moments.
After 10 years I am considering a different focus. Wait and see.

Friday, December 28, 2018

2018 Week 51: Christmas Chaos

Christmas is over, now it's time to reflect and recover.
Let's look back over the week.The Wednesday after the last blog post, I surprised Mother for a short visit. I was there for her quarterly care plan conference. Her annual cognitive and mood evaluation was better than the last one. She knew all the answers. Short term memory is to be expected at her age, but given some clues and reminders she is able to recall. And her mood and attitude are amazing. The social worker says, "If I live to be 97, I want to be like Mrs. Hoyt."

We looked at her new cards and photos, arranged them on the bulletin board, and visited Aunt Margaret.

A few of us enjoyed painting tiles again in our weekly art club, and chatting, of course.
My favorite is the one on the right.

Jimmy's gift needed to be delivered to free up space in Mike's car so we went over to their house and got to enjoy Leah's decorations.

Later that night, a note and photo told us that Jimmy and his gift had already bonded.

Almost every spare moment until Christmas was spent preparing and wrapping gifts, writing notes, mailing letters, cleaning and tidying the house.

Our first Christmas celebration event was Stephan and Karen's annual brunch--lots of good food and conversation, catching up with friends we hadn't seen in a long time. 

It was a beautifully sunny day.  Most of us went out for a walk to and through the woods. On the way past the little pond I noticed a couple frozen frogs. Are they simply hibernating? Will they come back to life?

Kayla couldn't forget the fun family tradition of her growing up years--Christmas Eve meal of artichokes and shrimp. She invited us over for an evening of snack type food and fun. We attempted the artichoke meal a couple days later at our family gathering.

How do you like Rebecca's horse? She had to settle for a stuffed one instead of the real thing.

Lego constructions were a team effort. Sorting the colors helped.

The next day Michael, Diane and I traveled North to have Christmas dinner with Mother in the main dining room.  

And finally on the 26th in the afternoon everyone came to our house. That's when things became happily chaotic.
We talked about who's birthday we were celebrating and what would we give Him. 
Jude (6) said, "Myself. He already has my gift."
We were reminded of the message of the song about the little drummer boy who honors God with his gift and talent of playing music. 
The number of Christmas stockings grows with each new girlfriend. However, this year I added a golden one on the stairs to represent Jesus and to remind us of how we may honor Him. 

Among the many gifts were a Kathryn Hoyt original painting for each of her Koch grandchildren.

Here are some of my favorite pictures. Thank you, Leah.

All the young uns 20 and under

Only a few years ago Elijah used to measure up to me every time he came over. He just couldn't wait to be taller than me, no great feat really. Look at him now at age 13, almost 14.

And now, the final family event is a three-day vacation in a big house near Madison, IN. More about that next week in the last Meemaw Moments post.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

2018 Week 50: Christmas Programs

The week began with a worshipful Advent cantata at church.

In the afternoon we went to Kayla's end-of-semester dance recital of her multiple classes.

Rebecca was in three of them. She seems to prefer tap.

Early Hip Hop Jazz (left top); Early Ballet (left bottom); Early Tap (right)
Monday evening was Delta's Middle School and high School band concert at Emmens. Unfortunately from our position on the right side of the auditorium, we couldn't see our handsome 8th-grade trumpet-player, grandson Elijah.

Wednesday was our tap group's last performance for the year, at the Upland Senior Activities Center.

The Dancing Divas
We had fun painting tiles again in our Thursday Art Club. This time we copied some snowmen figures from a placemat I took from my visit with Mother last week.

Favorite Christmas decorations have been showing up all week. Small Nativities replaced the turtle collection on the kitchen windowsill--Leah's clay set, complete with tiny gifts for each of the Magi (left); a teeny tiny one from Mexico (middle); and the cutest figures from Northern Argentina.

Michael helped set up all three Christmas trees stored away in the attic. 

One of my favorite Christmas-tree related photos shows how Stephan and Karen get theirs.

It was the last week of the semester for our resident student--the dreaded finals week. We rarely saw her. In fact she pulled a couple all-nighters and finally surfaced Friday. One of her engineering friends came over as well to get some shut-eye before the long trip home. 

Elaine and Moriah--in one of her rare resting-postures
It took all day Saturday for Moriah to finally rise, sort, pack, clean and eventually make her way home all the way to Muncie. We were grateful for the extra time to hang-out--a whole semester's worth of visiting!

The programs continued. Sunday, the 16th, children sang and acted out the Christmas story in churches around. And yesterday, was the second Monday we made our way to the huge Ball State University auditorium for yet another musical presentation--Royerton Elementary (Zion and Jude, 3rd grade and Kindergarten). The noticeable difference was that the content was entirely secular with no mention of the true Christmas story--Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ born to live among us.