Thursday, August 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Chris

Yesterday was our grandson-in-law's 28th birthday.  We first met Chris back in early 2008.  He impressed the whole family right away not only with his willingness to help but also with the knowledge and expertise with which he did it.  He even made a lasting impression on his future uncles-in-law.
He entered a house with a large group of people where Dan and Dave were working on a project.  As soon as they were introduced, Dan and Dave said, "Well, here, you're a carpenter.  Come and help us out".  Chris never missed a beat.  He picked up the tools and got to work.  I didn't even know him and my heart almost burst with pride.  If Chris had turned around, he would have seen all the women of the family exchanging glances of the utmost approval.

And it's been that way ever since.  I conducted an interview with Chris a little while ago over the phone but I only had a few questions.  After all, I'd just done an interview two years ago and I couldn't think of any better questions than I'd asked back then.  Besides I intended to write about him more than interview him.  Here's how today's interview went:
Yesterday was your birthday and although I did wish you a happy one then, I'm just now doing your interview.  I hope you don't mind that it's a day late.  No, not at all.
Did you have a good day?   Yes.  We went out to dinner at the Mexican Fiesta Restaurant.  It was good and I ate way too much.  I got a Mexican sandwich and a side order of six tamales and I felt like I had to eat it all.  So I did.

Now that you're securely into your late twenties, do you feel older?  I'm starting to because I'm realizing that the twenties are ending.  I only have two years left and it feels like only one.

I think you said before that as a teenager you didn't envision yourself as a husband and father yet you fit the role so well.  Is parenthood all you thought it would be?  It's a lot more than I thought it would be and in a better way.  I've found out that kids just make your day better.
I've seldom seen anyone with more patience with his children than you and you always seem ready to teach and explain.  Where does all that come from?  My grandparents on my mom's side were very patient with me.  Especially my grandfather.  He always explained everything and kids just flocked to him.   I thought if I could be like him, it would be awesome.
You've repaired our fence so that it can't be broken down again, you've re-built our small pond and added a flagstone walkway, you've repaired and installed hardwood flooring in Beth's studio, you've repaired walls, installed windows and doors, installed siding and trim, and done a myriad of other miscellaneous projects.  Is there any construction project that you can't do?  No.   And if there were you'd figure out how to do it?  Yep.
Where did you get your incredible work ethic?  Definitely from working with my dad when I was younger.  He used to take me to his work sites so I could help out.  He was a rough carpenter, and they have more of a hard-knocks work ethic which I picked up.
You and Amber seem like a match made in heaven.  What makes you work so well together?   I think it's just that we're met for each other.  We have so much in common and we're so much the same that everything flows well together.  Our parenting style is the same (we're both patient with the kids) and that helps too.

What can you tell us about yourself that we might not know?  I used to play hockey and I'd like to try to get back into it.  I only played a year last time because we had all babies but now that they're getting older, I feel like it's a good time to start again.  I'm thinking about starting as a substitute next season.
What else?  My favorite team is the Redwings.
And that pretty well concluded our interview.  Now I want to describe Chris the way I see him.
First of all, he's a loving, devoted, and patient father.  And his well-behaved children are a direct result of his parenting skills.  Of course, I don't want to take anything away from Amber.  After all, she was brilliant enough to fall in love with him and she's a loving, devoted and patient mom.  But Chris displays qualities not often seen in a man.  He finds time to not only teach his children but also to play with his children every day which is a teaching opportunity in itself.  When the children in his son's preschool class have to take turns to see who gets to sit by him, you have to realize that Jack learned how to be a good person from his parents.

And now I'll proceed to the extraordinary story of his help when we remodeled the outside of our house.  Amber told me that the week prior to his arrival, he spend hours on the internet reviewing and studying the best ways to do every facet of our project.  He worked side by side with Dave starting with installation of the front door, all the windows and additional required framing, and the professional quality installation of the siding and trim.  And when most people walk while they work, Chris ran.  He knew we had some serious time constraints and he did everything in his power to make sure it all got done working from sunup to sundown.  Then when the rest of the crew left, Chris stayed behind doing the finishing touches that not even we thought of.  At our request, he added a storm door but then he pointed out that the project wouldn't be complete without house numbers.  He even gave careful instructions to Harry on securing the gutters to the house.  He would have done this job too but we didn't have the necessary supplies and he had a job to get back to at home.

So now we know he's a loving husband and father, a skilled and knowledgeable worker, and has a work ethic that won't quit.  But there are a few other things I want to add.

Chris is also a loving son, grandson, and friend.  Although he's driven and dedicated when working, he's easygoing and friendly when visiting.  He has a good sense of humor and a slightly self-deprecating manner that's sweet and likeable.

We feel blessed that he's part of our family and we hope the coming year brings him happiness and success at every turn.
Really there's only one negative about Chris.  He's set the bar awfully high for all the grandchildren-in-law to come.

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