A Working Man's Hands

At the request of my aging parents, I left my sweet “empty nest” home  in Colorado and  returned to Juneau in 2007.  I know I made the right decision; no doubt about it.  My parents never asked me to come home before until then, so I knew they were feeling their age, their vulnerability to getting real old.     I’ve had an innate knowing that  significant others may come and go but not your parents, and nor your children.  I am glad I made this time to spend with my mother and father.    My parents were 78 and 83 years old then; my  father was still gardening and my mother was still walking 3 miles a day.

They felt too old to travel alone  like they used to every Summer.  So, I took them on a couple of trips, a drive to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and the other to Hoonah (my mother’s hometown, and my father said he hadn’t been there since the passing of his mother-in-law, my grandmother, who passed away in 1976).  At least twice a week I took my parents on walks and picnics around Juneau:  Lena Loop, Eagle Beach and Sandy Beach.  I was surprised to discover that my father hadn’t ever been on many of the trails:  Treadwell Mine, Mendenhall River walk, Basin Road’s flume, Perseverance Trail, Twin Lakes.  I felt privileged to introduce him to these new experiences.

William B. Lampe in his (what he called, Big Bear) mutton fur parka - Winter 2007

My father’s passing two years ago December 18th was the beginning of many major tumultuous turns in my life..  I am currently temporarily settled down; enough to  finally mourn his passing.  Outside of doing my art and being with a friend now and then, and hanging out with my grand-daughter or mother, I’ve been experiencing melancholia.  I am not at all motivated to put up any Christmas decorations whatsoever.  I haven’t even bought any Christmas lights; this is the first time in my entire life I have not put up not even a strand of lights, and if it hasn’t happened now, it ain’t gonna happen.   Thank goodness my brother Rick is setting up the tree.  He does these tasks not for himself, but for our Mother.   Out of the back shed, he’s also pulled out the big container of lights and…the famous Bill Lampe globe lamps.

My father was an avid Christmas decorator.  By Thanksgiving, his 30 ft. trees in the front yard were heavily adorned with lights.   He trimmed all the windows AND the ceiling trim with fake evergreen – and this was throughout the entire house.  As if he didn’t have enough lights, he roamed Fred Meyer’s aisles for sport…”Let’s see,…now where are those Italian lights, they are the best…”  Now I know where I get this behavior, this focus, this intensity.  Gawd.  Ask my kids, they’ll tell you.  However, I was never this extravagant.

Once he created his first globe lamp, what 10 years ago(?), he was a fanatic - he spent many nights creating just one lamp. He gave most away - even McDonald's in downtown Juneau had one smack dab in the center of it's ceiling when you walked in the front doors...!

The past couple of weeks, while driving through some Juneau neighborhoods, we have noticed a few homes displaying  his plastic cup globe lamps hanging outside just above their front doorway.  It’s a comforting thought to see a part of our father in each one of these lamps being shared with folks who were probably friends of his.

I have many photos to share, yet do not have time right now to post them – will do later – stay tuned!