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Christmas 2010     MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR  FROM  John Reitmeier (and Ronny)

How's this for a multi-tasking mess?
Greetings and best wishes to everyone as we approach the celebration of Christmas and maybe for just a little while, the world will stop and consider what's really important in all of our lives.

Well to say that, “it's been quite a year,” would really be an understatement.  As I'm sure everyone knows, we said goodbye to Dad on the evening of January 6th.  He lost his ability to walk in December, on a Friday evening (the 11th).  We had been enjoying the company of some volunteers from Lutheran Social Services, so that I could get away and do some shopping or some socializing. When I got home at 9pm he just couldn't get out of his chair. We got him to bed, and then after some discussion with Jane, decided that the hospital was a better place. So the ambulance came and we moved the entire operation to the ER, then to a regular room for several days. Then (thanks Medicare!) they said, “well, he's got to go somewhere,” so we brought him home. Sadly that only lasted a few hours and we all decided that we were unable to give him the support that he needed.  So back to the hospital for a few more days, then to a temporary room in a wonderfully operated nursing home (Villa St. Vincent!) right in Crookston. Then a week later, back to the hospital, then back to the nursing home, and then it was Christmas 2009.

There were so many visits from family and friends, and presents, and candy, but slowly his physical abilities grew less and less. Finally on the 5th and 6th he stopped seeing in his good eye, and the congestive heart failure just keep getting worse. On the night of the 6th it was about 30 below and after a late afternoon meeting with staff and Dr.'s and family, the staff encouraged us to get home, get some sleep, as tomorrow would be another day, his vitals were strong go - get some rest. Just an hour and a half after we got home, they called to say he slipped away peacefully in the couple of minutes between them preparing him for the evening, and returning with his medicine. So eight days from his 95th birthday he left us on Epiphany.

His funeral was just 3 days later on Saturday and the church was full. We waited till May for the burial hoping for a spring day with birds singing and warm sunny breezes, but ironically after a wonderful early spring, it was right at freezing and raining and a bit of wind that day.

Jane is doing well. Full time at the hospital and has her days arranged so she get's in little mini trips all over the area about once a month. I'm sure she knows every discount shopping mall in 5 states.

Just a couple of weeks later I left for Frankfurt Germany for the annual office products show that I often attend for the Fisher Space Pen Company. It was cold and stormy and miserable as far as the weather went, but so great to see business friends, and also took the ICE high speed train up to Berlin for a couple of days to see Henry #1 and his family, the Försters and other friends and to spend time with Ronny's siblings, and also down to the Homburg area (SE of Frankfurt) to see student #6 Jan Pfeiffer. And then near Frankfurt to spend time with Sebastian and his wife and new son (thanks for the bed!) and to see Fabian #7 and spend time with his family, all of my German friends...whom I really think of as MY extended family! Because of bad weather across Europe, it took me 3 days to finally get a Biz Class flight home. Was cool, flew home with the Gov. of ND (and wife) who now will be a state senator!

Feb, mostly stayed in and watched the Olympics.

March, Ronny and I went to Jackson MN and then Tennessee and then back through Chicago...Took Ronny to the Medieval Times (it's one of those things you must do, but only once), then back home in the new car...I had bought a Cadillac DTS in the winter and for traveling, it sure is a nicer ride than the Explorer or past vans!

Ronny's brother and sister came for a couple of weeks over the opening of fishing, so we went on an SOS tour (see our state!). First to Duluth and stayed near the big lake, then up to Ely and staying right on the water, looked just like a Hamm's Beer commercial, then to the Wolf enclosure. We stopped a couple of days at Gull Lake north of Bemidji and stayed at a resort that my folks had stayed at when they were newly married back in 1941 or so. Rented a pontoon and had much fun fishing and circling the lake and remembering all the years that we had stayed there in my youth! Then on to Itasca and walking across the Mississippi, or at least watching the Germans slip and slide across the rocks!

Life here at the farm had been so great and family oriented as Casey and wife Kaitlin and  my God Daughter Sophia (with Alex visiting every other weekend) were living in the mobile home that's connected to the house. It was so great in Dad's last years here as he was able to interact with so many different people and age groups. He really loved when Sophia would come over to visit (almost every day) and also when Paul and Leah's daughter Halle would come from across the road. But the space just got smaller and smaller for them, so in June they moved to a wonderful 2 story old solid house in Crookston.

Casey and Kaitlin got married in our church in July! And we learned this fall that another baby...Sidney is on the way. We sure miss them all here on the farm but are happy they have a big house for the growing family and love every minute that Sophia comes to visit.

Now it's just Ronny and me here at the farm, but with the helpdesk staff coming and going 7 days a week, it's never quiet. Ronny is doing so very well at UMC in Crookston. He is studying crop production and with the INS's permission is working for Cousin Paul and learning how to farm by getting his hands dirty. So far he hasn't broke to many least not of value! I'm very proud of him!

Also in the early summer, Chris Loch (Lorie's son) brought his wife Jen and 2 young children from Provo Utah for a week or so and we did the camping and Itasca thing all over again...Lots of fun and what a great little family he has. We understand that there's another baby coming there also some time in March or so, also a little girl.

This fall after much haggling back and forth, we purchased a small lake cabin on a back lot at Maple Lake. It has a wonderful view of a different unnamed lake, and will be a nice place to get away to now and then. We (well Ronny and Casey's Dad Leigh mostly) are remodeling the bathroom, and it will need a new roof next year. It's not a fancy place at all, (think hunting shack) but a great place to escape to (only 22 minutes to get there) so we can use it a lot. It's available to anyone...the key is under the mat.

Again this year and I don't even know for how many times, Ronny and I went to the Jackson County Fair in Jackson MN. There was a lull in the grain harvest, so Ronny got to go along and see his friends down there. It is always a wonderful time in Southern Minnesota and great to catch up with all my listeners on the radio stations down there! It will be 35 years that I've been on the radio up here in Grand Forks, and I still start the morning with Jim Bollman from the same studio that I first was on the air in those many decades ago. Amazing that he still puts up with me!

Ronny worked hard with the help of Cousin David Myklejord and we felled several of the oldest trees on the farm. Ones that Dad planted when he was just a child. As of today they are all hauled away and piled down by the grainary

Not like I've run out of things to do, but Ronny and I have started yet another project.  We are officially in business as  REITMEIER & SON Specialty Foods.  Our First product?  Harvest Sausage, much like the Octoberfest Sausage that's so popular at the Winnipeg Octoberfest celebrations!  It's become a big hit in the bars around the area.  Fortunately we have a strategic partnership with a meat market in town, so I never have to get up to my elbows in ground meat.  It's a lot of fun and we might just be on to something.

Ronny flew to California with Casey in a big concert/festival, their main goal was to see a band called Blink 182, but KISS was also performing so they can add that band(?) to their list of concerts. They even tried surfing but I think it was a little cold.

After much practice and several attempts Ronny got a drivers license, AND he got a car so he's much more independent now and comes and goes as he likes.

We had a surprise in September. A pickup truck slowly drove into the yard and an Hispanic man got out. Slowly walked to the house and rang the doorbell. Here it was one of the migrants that had worked on the farm doing the sugar beet thinning and hoeing all the way back to the 60's. What a great time we had catching up about all the different Garcia family members, where they are now, and even who's still alive. Too bad he hadn't come one year earlier and Dad could have spent time with him. Also this year I finally found and caught up with a friend from back in 1992, and learned that another friend from my radio days in Las Vegas in the 80's had passed away as a still "young man" back in 1997. So -  glad to have found David Long and sad to hear about David Towery!

I did a real crazy thing last June. I and a group of 9 others invested in a restaurant. It turned out to be a bad choice of things for me to do, and so after 85 years in business, and a world war, and several floods, the time has come to make some tough decisions.  Can you believe it, I got in and out of the restaurant business all within the year. Modern food chains and new energy efficient buildings win every time. But it was a good lesson in business management and at least we made an attempt to be part of keeping the tradition alive.

I'm going to be 60 this next summer and each day I thank GOD for letting me experience life this long and on so many levels. I have so many friends, and now a son who will soon carry my name. I have 2 God Daughters, one in her 20's (where has the time gone) and one turning 2 this weekend. My businesses so far seem to be economically safe even in these crazy times, and the farm moves along with acceptable prices and good crops. All of these things I consider blessings beyond compare. My extended family now goes all around the world, with Henry thriving and working for MTV in Berlin, Andreas on an oil rig in the North Sea, Steffan a physical therapist in Freilassing (across the river from Salzburg) Note from Thailand is in England going for his masters in Logistics, Frank in Vienna becoming a psychiatrist, Jan in Saarland making his mark in Real Estate, and Fabian just finishing school in Manheim and planning on a business career! Then, other friends, including Christian Stubener who is in Erfurt, and Carsten Pohlman who is going for a Doctorate in metallurgy in Dresden. Andas Kraft, studying philosophy in Budapest.  Johan Ma who was here on an H-1 Visa and then lived in China for a while is back in his home country of Indonesia, in the family snack food industry,  with a handsome son who, except for size you can't tell from his father. Must be the haircut!

I enjoy being asked to deliver the sermon, or do the liturgy at church on a kind of regular basis. (I'll be doing both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year)   It's a joy to use my broadcast training in sharing the message of faith and forgiveness!   Our Minister Bill, who had lost his wife to Alzheimer's. met a woman on an airplane and after much courting and the blessing of all their children they were married this fall, so there's still hope for me that some where and some time and with the right smile, my soul mate will appear!

In the mean time, each day is exciting, and future planning continues.  No thoughts of retirement yet.   I'm going on a cruise the end of January, I have a ticket to any where in the world available to me on United and another one on Delta, so who knows where I might get to this year. I am blessed to be able to provide income for several families through my different business ventures, and now for my own family. Please consider stopping by here - or the lake and pause with me and try to count the stars in the sky.  May the joy of the Christmas season stay with you throughout the year.

With much Love and Happiness,

Your friend, and family member,

John, 59   Ronny, 22   Mama Kitty, 20 and dog Mocha 4

Other links:    Dad's Obituary
My daily Radio program
Ronny's Facebook



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