Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - Christmas Newsletter 2002

2002 has been good to us.  One highlight was reading your responses to our queries.  Although so many of us faced serious challenges this year, it was inspiring to read about the everyday (and sometimes not so every day) joys and triumphs.   

For us, a joy was the outstanding accomplishments of our seven grandchildren:  Sara Lyon is a college senior and gets rave reviews for her theater productions. Our college student grandson Rory Larkin had a great line. My year, he wrote, has been “riddled with routine and normality.” Stephen Martinez scored at the 99 percentile on PSATs – but then noted (with typical Larkin modesty) that everyone gets that. Shane Larkin blows our mind by camping in sub zero weather, starring at football and getting all A’s. Erica Larkin scored at the 99th percentile on the Iowa Tests, loves horseback riding, and has so many interests we can’t list them all. Hillary Larkin is a marvelous swimmer and daring diver and Connor Larkin is a beautiful child who loves playing with his cousins. Two biggies were the first unaccompanied airplane flight and visit by Shane Larkin (April) and visit by Stephen Martinez (August). Both won grandmother’s heart when they asked to visit history museums and 12-year-old Shane wanted a history book as a souvenir.  Three wonderful trips included some spectacular experiences -- especially seeing Bryce National Park in the snow, Zion National Park in the rain, and Puerto Rico in the sun. The death of Brian’s brother Francis in February was a major loss to him and Maureen, his children (Tracy, Lori, Ron, Michael and Stephen), his grandchildren, and all of us. As Tracy wrote, “The loss of my father is tremendous.” Nephew Ron wrote, “Of course, the number one event that touched my life was the passing of my father in February.”  

The Larkin Family Convocation (LFC) in August was a highlight for many. For Maureen, “The LFC was the most important event of my year. Sr. Therese crossed the Atlantic to join us meeting a large number of her American family.  Her excitement was contagious. Seeing all my nieces and nephews, some I'd not seen in years and their children, and many I'd never met was a wonderful experience.” Elizabeth thinks that introducing Dick & Peggy & Jean & Bob to our grandchildren was a real delight.  She loved the Bash Bish walk, especially with sister-in-law Peggy and Sister Therese sharing Irish stories while they held on to each other for dear life. Nephew Ron wrote, “Discovering all our new Larkin family and finding our grandfather Charles and our Irish connection was an incredible highlight. The family gathering in was wonderful.” Niece Gail said, “I would have to say it was meeting all of you. It was wonderful.” Dan Larkin said the LFC was a top event of 2002; ditto niece Tracy Larkin-Thomason. 

Lori Larkin Andresen wrote about family. “I was grateful for this year, for family gatherings, my health, the health of my family, the smiles and energy that radiates from my children.” Rachael (nee Louise) wrote about her children Shana, Justin and Emily, as did niece Paige about her children, Adrianna, Alex & Katie. Clay Cummins glows about granddaughter Abbey writing her 5th grade class play. Allen and Margaret delighted in visiting granddaughter Hannah. Adrienne French wrote, “My daughter Ellie turned 1 in June - she's an absolute delight!”   

Babies in our extended family include newborns Anthony Urbancik (Dorothy and John’ son), Matthew VanderPutten (Richard and Meg’s son), and Peter Ryan Vander Rhodes (son of Christine and Greg and 1st grandson of Tom and Joan VanderPutten). Elizabeth’s brother Dick wrote, “Highlights are our two new grandsons, and of course our other grandkids, Kyler and Victoria.” For Christine, No. 1 is “a no brainer -- Peter Ryan!” And cousin Gary’s top event: “We are now a great Aunt and Uncle,” Childhood friend Elizabeth Zapp concludes, “I think the best things that have happened to me has been holding the new babies, especially the VP children.” 

Health was a dominant theme. Maureen wrote of Caitlin recuperating after cancer surgery.  “She became the new Gold Standard by which all courage henceforth will be measured.” Dan wrote, “Certainly Caitlin's recovery was my highlight.” Nancy Straight, whose husband began 2002 just out of CCU, says, “Bob [is] out of the hospitals/nursing facilities and home again. With Crystal's extraordinary skills, he was able to vacation in Michigan this past fall.” Niece Crystal adds that her No. 1 event was her step-dad “being well enough -- and strong enough -- to take a vacation with my Mom.” Sr. Therese in Ireland is now recuperating from cancer surgery. Niece Jill wrote today about Carole-Anne, her 13-year-old daughter who has for several years waged an inspiring battle against lupus and who was hospitalized again a week ago. “She is home! She is still very weak, tired and achy, but at least she is home. She will have to be in bed on Christmas, but lucky for her, Santa delivers right to her bed!” Clay wrote that wife Eve will be home from the hospital for Christmas Day. Friend Susanna’s No. 1 was watching her husband Timmy “run the US Army 10 miler at the Pentagon.” She added significantly, “It was on the 2nd anniversary of when he gave up smoking.” Aunt Doris writes, “The highlight of our year was that after over a year of extreme pain and inability to walk I had my [hip replacement] operation and can walk perfectly without any pain.” We are grateful for Dad’s good health.  Elizabeth thinks it’s neat that at 91, he got a driver’s license renewal for 8 years (she assumes he’ll renew it in 2010). Aunt Annette has the final word here. At 88, the highlight of my year, she said, is being healthy enough so that once a week, I can go to the bank, then to the beauty parlor, then around the corner to the supermarket, and then back home where, an hour later, $70 worth of groceries appear at my door. 

Changing homes was a highlight for several of us. For cousin Christine and Robert, it was “building of our new home.” For niece Paige, it was moving into the first home of her own. For Elizabeth’s father, it was “moving into my new apartment in a senior housing setup.” Long time friend Jeanne Hills wrote, “The highlight of my year was leaving my 9 room home of 26 years and moving to a new apartment...it was the hardest and the easiest move of my life.” For Jim Aldrich and Anne Blackburn, it was moving into a retirement community, while for Clay Cummins it was celebrating the first anniversary of moving to a retirement community. And for newly retired friends Barbara Butler and Glenn Porter it was, “crossing the border to New Mexico knowing that we were now residents of ‘The Land of Enchantment’."

 Education and jobs were biggies. Paige started a doctoral program, Adrienne got a “doctoral internship at AU,” and Cousin Martha Moss went back to college full-time. Tracy Thomason got a promotion. For grandniece Christiana Larkin, starting at the elite N.C. School for Science & Math 3 hours from home (and a new boy friend) won top marks. Son Ruane: “First public school teaching job at Hudson high School, upon earning NY State certification, Social Studies 7-12.” Friend Allen Schmieder stayed as Sr. Veep at JDL. Nephew Adam Hills finished his 2nd year of corporate “lawyering,” wife Sara her 2nd year of teaching. Friend Deh-I Hsiung: “The highlight was extending my 3 month detail at the U. S. Embassy in Beijing to 6 months.” 

            One-(or two)-of-a-kind high points: Pat Moore’s biggie was a trip to “South Africa in October; five nights in Jo'burg, with visits to cultural village, diamond mine, Pretoria, and Soweto (75% unemployment, no water, no sewers, no electricity...it haunts me).” Ellen Baker’s was “completing my book on therapist self care.” Ditto Allen Schmieder’s Nowhere in Technology: All Children Left Behind. Jean Pollack’s highlight was becoming a mentor to “a graduate student in connection with the fungus Sporothrix Schenkii." And for friend Nancy Jane it was “taking over the opera club.” Elizabeth’s former fellow teachers Dave and wife Irma, and Bobby and Don Keller (who hosted our wedding reception) celebrated their 50th anniversaries (the latter was hosted by their daughter Jane Keller Gordon). Cousin Barbara VanderPutten’s was her quartet’s TV gig on a local bay area magazine show (Evening Magazine). Friend Barbara Richardson got turned on with “landscaping my garden in Wedgwood blue and white flowers.” And last, our friend Gina Machorro Espinosa in Puerto Escondido, Mexico wrote that the getting a new pair of eye glasses and a fan for her office were high points of 2002.

Love  to you.

Brian J. Larkin and Elizabeth VanderPutten
December 22, 2002, Washington DC