Amazing Grace: My Granddad’s Legacy

The month of November is probably my favorite month of the year.  I can’t tell you what my reason is, other than the fact that Thanksgiving falls in there!  I have always loved Thanksgiving more than any other holiday.  Just thinking of it and how it is quickly approaching nearly brings me tears of joy! While the food is always glorious (and much anticipated!!), my love for Thanksgiving is definitely because of my family.  

And, did I mention that every single family member is AMAZING?!

I am giving myself permission to brag about all of my family members because, well, someone should!  I mean, we’re talking engineers, nurses, teachers, aeronautical engineers, successful business owners, actors, an aspiring doctor, singers, a film maker, songwriters, artists, ……..are you catching on? Not only do they do all these things, but they do their crafts WELL!  And, don’t even get me started on their hearts. The love from our family is beautiful, and I feel honored to be in it.  I blame my Grandma and Granddad for all this success.

les4

Me, my Grandma, and my Granddad

It’s true.  These two.  If I could sit down over a cup of coffee (or tea!) and share with you every detail of this dynamic pair, I would.  But, for now I simply need to share the amazing legacy my beloved Granddad has left behind.  As I attempt to put all my big feelings into text, I wonder what he would say about his life that he had. Would he tell the same details I have found so pivotal to his life? Did he know how much I loved the way he nurtured his garden, or how a concord grape picked from the vine will always make me think of him, or how I have to stop dead in my tracks to see a plane flying overhead? How would he share his story? Well, for anyone that knew Granddad they would expect to be sitting for hours. Hours I tell ya. The man could talk.  He would tell every single detail of his beautiful life to you.  As a child I would dread having to sit and listen to him, but as I grew older I never wanted him to stop telling his stories.

image1

My Granddad, Jack Seifarth

Granddad was born in 1928 and grew up in the time of the depression.  He didn’t have much, but his family always had food on the table.  As a family they cared for a thriving garden and had some of their own animals for meat.  They worked hard for what they had and were forced to live a frugal life.  Although life had it’s struggles, Granddad found his joy in airplanes as a child.  He built himself a shed on his family’s property to house his model airplanes that he would assemble.  Because he didn’t have money, he would go door to door selling seeds, replacement windows, and other random things to earn the funds to buy his model planes.image3
 His passion for planes grew from childhood through his teen years so much so that he
was offered a scholarship from Johns Hopkins University for aeronautical engineering.  He worked hard studying during the week and worked hard to earn money on the weekends.  Meanwhile, he couldn’t suppress his desire to fly.  Roughly after his second year studying at Hopkins he applied for a spot in the NATO Cadet program.  He got into the program to train in the international cadet program. His dream was being fulfilled!  He trained on the T28 and T6 and went through all the technical classroom training.  He eventually was certified in prop planes.  He then went on to train for more intensive evaluations, which included turns and dives, so the standards were quite higher in the fighter jet program.  These tests were apparently hard to pass and unfortunately was one of the many who couldn’t sufficiently move on.  His flight training lasted for two years, but even though he couldn’t move on, I would imagine that simply flying was his dream being fulfilled.
airforce
After his training he got offered a job designing planes at Fairchild-Hiller.  He had the opportunity to be on the team  designing passenger planes and cargo planes such as the F27, F28, C130, C119, C123 and the A10.  He had a successful 20 years there doing what he loved.  In the midst of all that he found my Grandma and they made 6 incredible people.
les

With 5 of his 6 kids and my Grandma

After his time at Fairchild he got another job working in the engineering department for Mack Trucks.  He worked there until he was 60.

I could share even more details of his career with you, but I also need to express that he was an even better Father, Granddad, and Great-Granddad. Any picture I come across of him with my aunts, uncles, and dad you can see how hands-on he was.

les2

With some of his grandkids

I believe our family is so tightly knit now because of the foundation that Grandma and Granddad made for us.  They made family a priority.  They made God a priority. They shared the importance of hard work.   They allowed us to pursue our dreams.  They made it necessary to make traditions together and tell stories of their lives to us. They constantly have supported us.  For example, when I made the choice to leave college to pursue my desire of performing, he (and Grandma) supported me.

I’m slightly going to switch gears here.  I left school to begin working at a theatre.  He was so proud of me and I felt pride in knowing that.  He and Grandma saw all of my shows while I worked there, right up to nearly the very end of my time of employment at that theatre. I remember the last performance that he saw and how I knew it would be his last time there.
In 2005 Granddad found out he had prostate cancer.  He began radiation and over the course of a couple of months had 41 treatments.  Eventually it metastasized and was very aggressive.  By the Fall of 2009 he began deteriorating very rapidly.  In October of that year I was about 6 months pregnant with our first baby.  I had seen him during that time and happily listened to him tell me some elaborate story.  Some of his thoughts were beginning to become disconnected and he had trouble piecing information together, while I tried holding onto every word.
November rolled around and Granddad was there for his last Thanksgiving with our family. Granddad was not very clear headed at this point or as lucid as he once was.  It was almost shocking to see how much he had changed in as little as a month. I remember that year a bunch of his grandkids did a show for everyone, but it was specifically for Granddad.  Some did skits and several sang.  The talent from our family is ridiculous.  Nearly everyone can sing.  I watched in pride as everyone did their thing for Granddad, but I couldn’t bring myself to sing for him.  I would sing for him at any time, but I was selfishly refusing to sing because I didn’t want to cry.  I even got a look from my uncle as I sat there, but I just couldn’t do it.  Had I sung for him it would have been “Amazing Grace”.  His favorite (or so he told me anyway).  It still haunts me that I never got to sing for him and look at him.  I look back and so wish that I would have done it for him, no matter how much or how little he was aware.
les5

Granddad’s last Thanksgiving

I called him sometime after Thanksgiving to share with him our baby names, keeping in mind that he may not live to meet baby.  Grandma did most of the talking, but I knew he could hear me.  I told him that if our baby was a girl that we would name her Cora, after his mother.  Grandma said, “Jack, did you hear that?” He heard it and I could almost HEAR his joy! 🙂
By the next month, December 26, he passed away.  Thankfully he wasn’t in much pain in the end.  It happened so quickly in the last couple of months.  Even though he was sick, it was still a shock and it was still a time of grief for all of us.  But even now I can still feel him anytime I hear Patsy Cline sing, or anytime I eat a tomato from a vine, or I make his famous recipe of vegetable soup!

Someone told me that, “Cancer is different because it affects the whole family. It’s a family disease”.  Well, it’s true.  While I wasn’t there for his radiation treatments and witnessing the worst of it, it has still affected me.  But, I know that when Thanksgiving rolls around again I’ll be reminded of his unending love for all 40 of us!  We will celebrate our time together and we will fill our hearts even more with the time we were blessed to have with Granddad. – Leslie T.

image2

Jack Vincent Seifarth 1928-2009 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – from where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1,2

Advertisements

My design style: As easy as possible for an effect that’s as cool as possible

People often ask me what is my “design style.”  How do you come up with these ideas? How do you make them come to life? What’s your “signature?” What do you want people to think when they hear the name Bo Peep’s Bonnets?

I’ll tell you my friends! I want them to think: That girl creates freaking awesome and original knits in ways that are are so stinkin’ easy.  KNITTINGPATTERN

Before I started writing my own patterns I was so discouraged by my lack of pattern reading skills. I would pull up a lacy shawl on Ravelry, take one look at the 5 page, 8 point font pattern that appeared to be written in Chinese and promptly slam my laptop screen closed.

There’s got to be a better way!!!

When I have a vision for a new design my first thought is always – can I do this while a 5 year is tugging on my sleeve, while the phone is ringing, while my husband is rehearsing a monologue in the background, while I have dinner in the oven, and while I have a Barbra Streisand album on full blast (yes that’s right – I’m 28 and I love Barbra Streisand).

If I can’t know where I’m at in a pattern with all that going on – I figure out a different way of designing it. I’ve discovered the best way is to stick with simple stitches, arrange them in new and fresh ways, and most importantly have a pattern that repeats in some form or fashion. Why? Because the more you repeat – the more you naturally memorize what’s written on the page.

A memorized pattern is a good pattern.

I also love when you can take a simple knit shape and fold/sew/button it in such a way that you have a cowl, sweater, shrug, or wrap that requires you to only knit one piece.

Currently I’m working on a shrug that’s just a huge circle. You fold and sew it in such a way that you have a collar – sleeves – and a back! I’m so excited!

I also love knitting for the ones I love. My daughter, hubby, and my two cats Buddy and Harry have inspired some of my best selling creations. I designed my best selling cat hat after a day of snuggled up with my furry friends and watching my favorite Doris Day movie Pillow Talk (that’s right – I’m 28 and I love Doris Day). That design has led me to my biggest project to date – I’ve designed custom cat hats for the upcoming feature film Jem and the Holograms (more about that in a future post)! P1100763

Lastly, I always love to work with super bulky yarn. It’s all the rage right now and I love that it knits up fast. There’s just something about a chunky knit that feels so modern. I love when you can see each big beautiful stitch. I’m a stickler for perfectly even tension. I always say a hand knit item should look like a machine made it but  with the love of a persons hands added to the mix. LANCASTERPDF

One more thing – I stay true to myself! I only knit things I would wear. Things I would want my daughter to wear. I truly believe that when you design what YOU love other’s will love it too. Let’s face it – we’re all fabulous in our own ways. We all have something different to offer. I create what I love and I hope you love it too.

You can see all Bo Peep’s designs by visiting her shop – www.etsy.com/shop/BoPeepsBonnets

PATTERN