Halloween? My Grandfather Richter? Little Debbie…

Visiting my mother this weekend, we stopped for dinner at McDs.  The local gathering point for everyone in Oakwood.  While there we noticed two of my cousins having dinner – from my grandfather RIchter’s twin brother Lesley.

Getting a chance to talk to family is always high on my list!  I let them know how dad was doing – not great, he wasn’t even speaking during our visit. I’m pretty sure my dad had no clue who I was.  That’s never easy… I had just listened to a podcast (to get off topic) about how dementia patients can be retaught things at each stage.  Talking to dad and telling him about what is going on around him, what’s happening with everyone from his life and the area should help keep some part of his mind available for a little while.  I try so hard to remember while there that he may not react and may not know me or speak to me, but some part of his mind may have a spark of understanding of who I am and what I am telling him.  Something to keep a little more grey cells alive a little longer in his brain….  Anyway back to cousins.  My cousins were at dinner and we were talking about dad and the topic came up about DNA tests, family history and what our future looks like.

Family History:

We have a lot of family members with a history of stroke.  My dad also has damage from a car accident when he was in his teens, and several farm accidents… My cousin’s (at dinner) mother was the one that held my dad while he was bleeding after the accident.  Their father was the twin to my grandfather…  Strokes are something to keep in mind as we move forward.  I know I don’t have the gene tested for late onset Alzheimer’s, but that’s totally different from Vascular Dementia.

DNA Tests

Now with DNA tests you can be tested for all sorts of things that can be passed down.  Luckily I found that everything that is currently in the companies list is not in my DNA, but as I mentioned to my family… I think if it had been I would then be very careful about who I told that I had been tested.  My assumption is that sooner or later that data will make it out.  Will it count against some people for insurance?  I  was lucky to be negative on everything.  I can see a time though where kids who haven’t even been tested get denied for insurance because their parents were carriers for the — fill in the blank — gene.  If the data is out there you have to assume that sooner or later it will be accessed.  With the  current climate my assumption is that it is even more likely.  Your medical records already contain the answers to the questions – do you have a family history of?  How long until it’s expanded to include do you know anyone that has a gene for? A company now is even offering free DNA testing to expand their database and research….  How long until the group that doesn’t know their full DNA make up is a minority?

Grandpa Richter

While talking the topic of what happened to my grandfather came up.  I was in grade school (2nd grade I think)  It was Oct 30, 1974 and my grandfather had a stroke walking into his house. He was half in and half out.  My parents didn’t let us come see and they took care of everything.  My grandfather had a housekeeper that had been taking care of him as a live in.  As he passed away each of the brothers and sisters had to be tracked down to let them know… of course no cell phones.   My Aunt Linda was teaching and her principle drove her over, my Aunt Dorothy had her phone off the hook and a neighbor had to be asked to run over and let her know, and my Aunt Norma was just leaving for a tractor pull in a semi.  Aunt Norma and Uncle Lloyd owned a trucking company, big purple trucks, and an employee was able to reach them by CB. His passing away had been a complete surprise…

I remember going down and having the Little Debbie Oatmeal pies and the crust off his pot pies.  Those two things still remind me of him.  I don’t remember much about him, except those two things and pictures, but I do remember those things.  He would take the crust off his pot pie and give it to me at a formica table in the kitchen.  The oatmeal pies I remember being in the living room.   I do remember one other thing, but it could be from years later as my aunt Linda was living in the house…. Concord grapes growing on the vine in the front yard. To this day I still love concord grapes!  I can distinguish the taste from all the other grapes, I have no clue any other type of grape.


My mom has stories about us going to my cousins (Harold and Olives) for Halloween that year while they planned everything.  I don’t really remember that part, which is probably a good thing since I still enjoy Halloween.  Living in the country it was rare for us to get to go trick or treating except to relatives houses.  A couple years we got to go in to town and go door to door with friends.     My mother tells stories about me answering peoples questions about whether we lived in Oakwood with ‘Nos’ since we lived out of town….  I now am faced with the same feeling I’m sure she felt when I take my youngest in to the parade in Oakwood.  We have a place right outside town, we have been in the area forever, but anyone that asks if we live there and I know my son’s answer will be nope!

And It’s a Girl!

Yes we have added one more member to our family!  A girl this time.  Actually she’s an exchange student, but for this year we are a mixed family.  3 boys and a girl!

We are learning a lot this year, besides the experience of spending about 3 hours a day driving the kids one place or another in the car each day.  As crazy as this year has been and will be – I wouldn’t trade it.  I do have to wonder what Konnor thinks of the situation – one day we just suddenly added another teenager. I’m not sure what he will think also when she goes home.

Having an extra family member has definitely inspired us to do more fun things as a family this year.  Last weekend we ventured out to Jackson’s Orchard to try out the pumpkin patch and corn maze!  It brought back memories of my cousin Don’s pumpkins (though these were super small in comparison!) and his apples.  Konnor is hoping to ask dad to make him a corn maze.  I don’t think it will happen anytime soon (dad’s not really up to it anymore), but it does make me think I should talk to mom about if they have a patch of unused field that might work for next year.  Apparently Kentucky has a law protecting farms from being sued if they are engaged in agritourism – I really need to check if that’s true in Illinois too!  They are just now combining by the house at home so the timing could be perfect.

While at the orchard we got to take a hay wagon out to the patch.  I think my last hayride was in grade school with the cub scouts and the Flessners.  At least that’s the last one I really remember.  I DO remember though helping drive the tractor by the house while dad and company through hay onto the wagon.  I also remember being banned from participating after accidentally running over dad’s foot with the wagon and stopping the wagon ON his foot when he hollered at me to stop.  – My allergies were so bad that I was always delegated a task that involved me being in air conditioning (yep, they make International Harvester Tractors with cabs that are air conditioned and my dad had a big one!)

I really wish my kids would get a chance to know a little more about farming.

Kevin's First Pumpkin

Kevin’s First Pumpkin

Konnor at the Pumpkin Patch - Jackson's Orchard

Konnor at the Pumpkin Patch – Jackson’s Orchard










At the Pumpkin Patch

At the Pumpkin Patch





Growing up on a farm for Halloween is completely different though.  There isn’t trick or treating quite the way there is in a neighborhood.   Normally parents drive kids around to friends and family to show off costumes and collect some candy.  My parents probably won’t even bother to buy candy this year.   When we were kids I do remember my mother driving us in to trick or treat with the Peak family in Oakwood once or twice.  I don’t remember the trick or treating itself as much as just that we did it at least once.

Living in a neighborhood the kids will probably get enough candy this year to go into a sugar coma if they eat it all.  Would I change it?  No, not really – all in all I’m glad my kids get the chance to have both worlds. It would be nice if they were a little more ‘farm savvy’ but it’s great that they have a chance to experience some of both parts of life.