Archives For July 2010

On July 26th, my mother, Barrett Martin Schroeder turns 65.  She may or may not want me mentioning this milestone in a blog but I am proud of her and thankful for those many years she has been in my life and impacted it.  She represents a living legacy to both my sister Sarah and I.  We are readers because of her.  We try to be forgiving to others because she is of us.  We have traveled so much because of her leading the way.  We are educated because of her (and Dad).  We are a close family because of her example.  Yep, we even look a lot like her too.  Both my sister and I have kids now so we feel that it’s our responsibility to continue on a living legacy and always tell her story.  We love you mom and have a Happy Birthday.  Here’s to many more ahead.

And yes, I’m sorry I threw a plastic chair at you when I was 5.

Me, Mom, Sarah, and Dad

Last year when my father turned 65, he sent out this letter to everyone and I hope you will enjoy it.  He is the definition of “nostalgic” and loves looking back to figure out what “today” means.  It’s no shock about why I love history as do they do too. I hope you enjoy as it is quite humorous.  He is the “real” Dave Schroeder.

Some Thoughts on Turning 65

Sunday I celebrated my 65th birthday in Chicago with Barrett and our daughter Sarah.  While I did not say anything to them, I kept on thinking “What was it like in 1944 and how can I explain it to my children and grandchildren?”

For the first 14 months of my existence, I live with my mother in the second floor apartment in South St. Louis.  The apartment had a kitchen, bedroom and living room.  The total square footage was about as big as most people’s family rooms today.  We had a radio and a phone for communications.  The phone was a “Party Line” which meant we shared the line with two or three other households.  Today if you said Party Line your probably meant 1-800-GOT-SEXX.

We did not have a television for almost seven more years and that was a big box with a round black and white screen.  No HI DEF.  There was no Internet (I am a few years older than Al Gore), nor e-mail, Twitter or Facebook.  We communicated by writing letters.  I still have the one from my dad when he found out I was born.  The reason he was not in my life for those 14 months was that he was in England waiting to be shipped to the Ardennes in Belgium to fight in the Battle of the Bulge that December where he was wounded just a month later.  I recently asked a young man checking me out at an office supply store if he had heard of the Battle?  He replied, “No, but I am going to study it next semester as I am taking “Ancient and Medieval History.”

I finally met my father in January of 1946.  Instead of flying home from Europe in six or eight hours, he came home on a “Troop Ship” which took six to eight days and then had to take a train from New York to St. Louis which took another couple of days.  Legend has it that I leaked all over his uniform.  Those old diapers just don’t measure up to today’s Pampers.

When dad got home, we did not have a car and it took another year or two before they were available because of rationing.  My Grandfather Moberg had a car.  I figured he was rich.  Dad took something called a trolley to work or we walked to shop at the neighborhood store right around the corner or took the trolley to Tower Grove Park.

We finally got a house in Webster in 1951.  Three bedrooms, all brick for the whopping price of $15,000.  We had to build on a garage a few years later with the help of my parent’s friends.  It is amazing what you can get for a few cases of beer.  But life was good and we were happy.

I was not happy when I had to repeat 1st grade.  Since I started in the city school at midterm, when we moved to the county, I was a semester behind and could not read.  Best thing that ever happened to me!  I went form being the youngest kid in the class to the oldest and I learned how the read, write and do math.  Little did we know at that time that our principal, Mr. Rose, was doing the dirty deed with Miss Bright my third grade teacher.  It was a big scandal years later.

No need to cover the high school or college years or the forty-one years since then.  Today I am married to my college sweetheart, Barrett, and we have been blessed with two wonderful and productive children, Sarah and David.  They have continued blessing us with two grandchildren and another one on the way.  Yesterday, we actually saw a Sonogram of the soon to come grandchild.  Did we have those in 1944? (since then, she was born and doing well)

And to top things off, our children and their spouses gave me a Garman GPS for my birthday.  Without it, I never could have found my way back from Chicago.

God bless all our relatives and many friends.  It is amazing how fast 65 years can fly by.  But I feel like I did thirty years ago other than a few aches and pains.  I can live with that, as I have been blessed.

Age 65 is a lifetime away for Sarah and I but a lifetime of memories to build and share.  We are already started.

Where do you see yourself at 65?

What do you see yourself doing?

Who is with you?

What do you see as your living legacy?

Recently I watched the movie Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, and Eddie Izzard.  If you don’t know much about the story, there have been detailed and exciting documentaries on the subject but it short, it is about the plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944 by Germans.  Tom Cruise plays the lead character Claus Von Stauffenberg who led the failed assassination.  Brilliantly directed by Bryan Singer (Superman Returns, The Usual Suspects), the story comes to life in Hollywood style.  The movie is quite underrated primarily because it was written off by viewers because it featured Tom Cruise during the period of his freak out in the media.  I was intrigued by the story.

The movie got me thinking about the tremendous sacrifice in the story led by these brave Germans in the face of evil.  Americans in particular tend to think of all Germans living in 1930s and 1940s Germany as “Nazis” but it is so far from the truth.   There was brave people throughout all of Germany who who fought openly behind the scenes against the Nazis. One of them was the great German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I have been reading a biography on him, Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxes.  Metaxes previously had wrote the story Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce fighting to end the British slave trade.  Metaxes understands great sacrifice in his stories and with Bonhoeffer, it was about the role of the church in the face of evil.  I am of German descent so my passion is to learn more about these people and honor their lives.

I can’t believe I am m quoting Braveheart but this line is so powerful and to the point: “Every man dies, it’s just a question of how and why.”

The question kept popping up in my head, what am I dying for?

I began to think about those before me who have made such immense sacrifice. Some that came to mind: Martin Luther King, Jr. died for the injustice and suffering of the African American people, Claus Von Stauffenberg and others in the Valkyrie conspiracy died to save Germany, Bonhoeffer died to save his country and the message of his King, Jesus, Lt. Mike Murphy died “for the men next to him” in Afghanistan, Nelson Mandela stood up to fight the injustice of apartheid while forgiving those in it, and Jesus died for all of us and all of it.

Then there are those close to me that have been tremendous examples.

In high school, my cousin Carolyn overheard some other kids talking about “blowing and shooting up the school.”  This was in years following Columbine so things like this was not to be played around with at schools especially then.  She risked her reputation to make sure kids are protected.

When I was 18, my father took a week off work to join me and friends hiking in Colorado.  His boss could not reach him by phone during that period and he was let go a couple months later because his boss didn’t feel that he was “committed” enough. My father sacrificed for me and our relationship.

For justice.  For country.  For a friend.  For a son.  To just “do the right thing.” All in the name of love.


I need to die for something?

Well, it may not mean you actually dying but what in this short life are you “risking”?  I’m challenged to figure out what this means to me.  I may never encounter a situation of having to stand up to a “Hitler” or a “Terrorist.”  But I know I need to “risk” in order to “live.”

Okay back to Braveheart: “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”

For me, this has been a time to engage with my two little girls and my wife and play less golf.  I used to play everyday until my early twenties.  I know that I need to take more out of my leisure time and devote it to helping others, I’m just not sure what exactly.  It may also mean that I need to break away from the “traditional” elements of life and embark on the unknown of a career.  Lots to pray about as I clearly don’t have all the answers.

What about you?

-Is your business doing something “on the fringe”?  You can go about your business as well but you can change the way things are done.

-Do you defend the reputation of someone being misrepresented at work?

-Do you stand up for the kid being bullied in the hall?

-Does your church needs people to work the night of your favorite TV show?  God gave us DVR, use it.

-When you drive down the street when you see someone who is genuinely homeless what will you do next time?

Everyday you are approached with a situation involving potential sacrifice. You may not have to die for it but you will have to make the tough decision.  It takes courage.  It takes faith.

Don’t just “let it be.”

Life is worth sacrifice, always.

PS.  I am blessed to work with a tremendous man and author, Max Lucado.  In his upcoming book Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference, Max shares this in the opening chapter:

“A few years back, three questions rocked my world.  They came from different people in the span of a month. Question 1: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?  Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?  Question 3: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?

I didn’t mind the first two questions.  They were hypothetical.  I’d like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism. But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine.  But the third question has kept me awake at night.  I do live today; so do you.  We are given a choice…and opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time.  What if we did?  What if we rocked the world with hope?  Infiltrated all corners of God’s love and life?  What if we followed the example of the Jerusalem church?  This tiny sect expanded into a world-changing force.  We still drink from their wells and eat from their trees of faith.  How did they do it?  What can we learn from their priorities and passion?”

It is incredible that it has been 21 years since A River Runs Through It released.  I was a mere 14 years of age and trying to figure out what the world was about then.  To be honest, I have not ceased that pursuit. The tears still run down my face when I watch this beautiful film.

The movie is timeless and I’ve always thought it as one of my top 10 favorite movies. Robert Redford beautifully narrates the film.  You can sense his voice connecting with the author as one looking back at life reflecting on the journey and what one has learned. To add, Mark Isham’s score completes the emotions on-screen. I listened to the soundtrack when writing this.

The story is from the perspective of Norman Maclean played by Craig Sheffer and his interactions with his family after he comes home from college in the 1920s. His brother Paul played by Brad Pitt in particular is wild and rebellious but the connection between them remains deep as does their heritage as Macleans living in the beautiful state of Montana. I don’t have a brother but I’ve come to appreciate what it means to care for someone no matter where they are or how rebellious they may be. My uncle is one whom I love and now could be near meeting his maker (since writing this post, he passed on July 2nd, 2010, his birthday). My mother has been like the character Norman and my uncle in his later life has been the character Paul. It has not been easy and in many ways the whole family has wanted to give up on him. But we have not. There is a conversation between Paul and Norman that illustrates my mother and uncle’s situation.

Paul: Couldn’t you find him?
Norman: The hell with him.
Paul: Well, I thought we were supposed to help him.
Norman: How the hell do you help that son of a bitch?
Paul: By taking him fishing.
Norman: He doesn’t like fishing. He doesn’t like Montana and he sure as hell doesn’t like me.
Paul: Well, maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him.

Anyone who struggles to help a loved one might understand this line from Paul, “Maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him.” Paul is speaking of himself if you follow the story and Norman immediately understands. I pray that it doesn’t get this way for my daughters as they grow older but I would never give up as my mother (nor their 93-year old mother) never gave up on my uncle.

There is another important line in the movie spoken by Norman’s father in one of his last sermon: “And so it those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”

I feel as if I’ve been rescued many times by my friends.  And I have even tried to rescue a few.  My mother has been such a great example of how to love completely without complete understanding.

This is why it is so important to love and forgive.  We live in a broken world.  Lower your expectations but remain hopeful.

A fish may rise.

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”