19 April, 2010

Memorials and Memories

Pause


Sometimes a guy needs to pause and reflect.  "...a guy."  That's a phrase my late dad used to say.  His youngest brother recently passed away, and I said words and a prayer at his memorial on Saturday.  Uncle Don was 82, and is survived by only one sister, my Aunt Anita.  Don was preceded in death by his siblings.  All eleven of them.  The story of my grandparents, their thirteen children and their pioneering life is a unique American one.  Uncle Don's is unique, too.

Grandpa Max and Grandma Anna homesteaded in the land that time forgot, the Olympic Peninsula.  Think Twilight, only without the amenities.  By no amenities, I mean no electricity.  Did I mention no road, either?  Max hiked the Olympic beach to get to work during the Great Depression, which was a hundred miles plus a little.  The Indians rafted him across the rivers he couldn't ford.  He worked in the logging and port towns of Hoquiam and Aberdeen.

Max and Anna had 13 children, and the seven brothers all went off to war.  My father, Kenneth K. Klahn, saw heavy combat in Italy.  The youngest boy, Don, wanted badly to get in the army and fight the Second World War with his six brothers, but the Sole Survivor Policy prevented that.  So, he got drafted and fought the Korean War instead.  How is that for irony?  I can't say if my seven serving uncles and father is an unprecedented thing, but it is noteworthy.  Where will we get men like that now?

Link
My Grandfather, Max Klahn, is the young boy pictured @ the top right. Next to him at his left are Henry, my Great Grandfather and Charlotte, my Great Grandmother. Location: Quillayute Prairie, WA. Date: 1895. This place is about the rainiest spot in the US.


This weekend, in my home town of Hoquiam , I wanted to continue my series of paintings about the river complex.  Of course, it rained and so I sat in the truck and drew the mist on trees.  I made further arrangements for a show of these works and checked out the venues from the curb.  It will be a special event, I am sure.  The tentative date is a year from September.

My Hoquiam High School class of 1976 have found each other on Facebook, and 25 of us and some family and friends got re-acquainted in Olympia Saturday evening.  One thing we enjoyed so much in the seventies was dancing to loud rock and roll.  How sore can a guy be after dancing and making merry like we did that night?  Ouch.  I haven't had that much fun in a long time.  Every face I saw recalled for me endless good times and fun that we had in our school days.

I was to get together with another high school and college friend on Sunday.  We made the arrangements to meet because his wife was undergoing cancer treatments and he wouldn't be able to come out.  When I called that morning he informed me that his wife had passed away Friday night in the hospital in Seattle.

Can a guy have a fuller heart than I have right now?  I doubt it.  I am back home with my family, today.  I showed Lorie some photos that my aunt gave me when I visited with her.  Aunt Geri and I sat at the dining table, in front of the big corner windows that Uncle Don looked out of for so many years in Hoquiam.  Looking out at the rain, of course.  The week he died, he "saw" my late father as clear as day, she said.  He remarked, "here comes Kenny.  He's coming for me now."
Rest in peace, Melanie, Don, Dad and the Klahn siblings.  I love you.



Top Photo: Lorie Klahn

29 comments:

SamArtDog said...

Nice post, Casey. Thanks for sharing your family's story. You look like them and are as much a part of your place on the Peninsula as they were. I'm not surprised the the man who paints trees has good roots.

Casey Klahn said...

It is a privileged association - thanks for reading, Sam.

Peggy Montano & Paintings said...

Very touching story. I feel now as if I knew them well.

Casey Klahn said...

I appreciate it, Peggy.

Kathy said...

A beautiful and thoughtful tribute,
Casey. I'm moved by it and informed about the important sacrifices your family members have made for this country. This is a remarkable story. Ah... class reunions! I'm going to my fourtieth class reunion this Saturday!! Could I possibly be that old ??

Jeanette said...

Exploring the past is part of the future and shows us a lot of ourselves.

You painted a strong picture of your ties to the Peninsula and a wonderful family there.

Casey Klahn said...

Thank you for reading, and for your sensitive comments, Jeanette and Kathy.

Kathy, have fun at your reunion!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Casey -- You've had a lot on your mind and on your heart lately. Beautiful thoughts and a good time for a guy to pause and share them. Thank you for doing that! Going "home" brings up all kinds of feelings and a profound sense of how everything changes and shifts with time.

I agree with Sam's comments, too.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks, Katherine. I look forward to showing you my Hoquiam series as it develops, too. Probably have some trees in it.

-Don said...

What a beautiful tribute to your family. The photo "Pause" was a perfect fit. I thank your family for having risked their lives for my freedom.

The photo of your grandfather and the greats is a cool shot. You rarely see such pleasant expressions on photos from this era. What a treasure.

-Don

Casey Klahn said...

I saw the same image of the pioneers without the tape at Uncle Don's memorial. Another great set is of the six sisters, and a matching one of the seven brothers, circa 1940.

Somehow I'll have to get a hold of those images. Thanks for commenting, Don.

loriann said...

Thanks for sharing your family's story and your recent adventures Casey. Sounds like you have been experiencing a roller coaster of emotion. I can't wait to see your next river paintings. Seems like that place and its history are very much a part of you. I agree with Sam about trees and roots.

Casey Klahn said...

That Sam gal is a very insightful person, huh?

I did a study in color of the Hoquiam River today - from a photo I took Saturday. Looks like the series is coming together.

Lisa McShane said...

Wonderful story Casey - thanks for sharing.

An odd cross state coincidence: my family were homesteaders around Pasco (wheat and orchards.) I was just there last weekend and met up with my bf from high school via Facebook -hadn't seen her in 23 years. And, was so deeply inspired by the landscapes that are deep in my DNA that I started 7 paintings today.

Can't wait to see the paintings from Hoquiam.

Thanks again for sharing your story.

Yellow said...

That was beautifully put. Thank the Lord that I have never yet experienced that kind of loss.

Casey Klahn said...

Great to have you reading, Steph. Someone told me this was a "circle of life" type of experience.

How funny to have these parallels, Lisa. Now I see how your eastern Wa images are grounded and it makes perfect sense.

FB is a funny tool. I was resistant at first, but the connectedness it brings is a welcome thing. Funny, though, to put faces with familiar names after a 34 year break.

Brian McGurgan said...

Very nice post, Casey. Much to be proud of and grateful for there. Looking forward to the Hoquiam series.

Casey Klahn said...

I am grateful, too. Thanks for reading, Brian.

I am working out an image, and in doing so I may have stumbled on a couple of paintings of the Hoquiam River. Anyway, I am
engrossed in the studio.

layers said...

it must have felt like coming home-- to read about your family history- the names are familiar to me as I have been to the Olympic forests in college- I went to Western WA in Bellingham but went home with a girlfriend on holidays who lived in that area. nostalgic memories...

Casey Klahn said...

I'm glad you had the chance to visit, Donna. The area is unlike anywhere on earth. Imagine my grandparents immigrating there from Germany - they couldn't have gone any further west or they would've been in the ocean.

You just wrote a strong post on heritage, Kyoto and Horiuchi. I recommend it to my readers.

Jala Pfaff said...

Best wishes, Casey.

Celeste Bergin said...

Casey, you are the type of "blogger/artist" whom I truly admire...to me the point of a blog is to go ahead and tell us about your life as well as your work. Some artists are reticent to do that and though that's all right too--I sincerely appreciate learning about a person's history and life. A post like this one enriches the "blog" experience for sure!
I read somewhere that 9 times out of 10 a person who is transitioning from life to death mentions people who have gone before them. Do they see that person in eternity? Of course, we like to think yes. I sure like the idea of one day seeing all "my people" like in the final scene of Titanic--everyone was happy!
Hugs to you..this is an awesome post.

Casey Klahn said...

Thank you, Jala.

Thanks for reading closely, Celeste. I try to keep the self down, but I think some informs the whole. My art is absolutely about my upbringing on the rainy peninsula.

I didn't want to write that last part - it seemed so maudlin. But, it is true to the story, and it was Uncle Don's reality at the time. And, the story is very moving to me, since it recalls my own father.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Casey- All the best from your friend Sippican.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks, Brian.

Adam Cope said...

My condolences Casey, tho' it reads more like a great & ongoing beautiful story.

paint well & celebrate life, my friend.

Casey Klahn said...

That is a very kind way to describe this...I like it a great deal. I hope to live up to much; cheers, Adam.

Ruth Armitage said...

I'm just catching up after being away and wanted to say how much I enjoyed this post. I'm sorry to hear about your uncle's passing. I love your descriptions of your pioneer roots. Those stories are priceless. I love the way you weave the past & present together.

Dottie said...

Thank you Casey. I was widowed very young. The day my husband died, he saw and reached for people all day. Your post has brought back the comfort I felt that day. You are a friend. Thank you even more.

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