Father’s Day is always bittersweet for me, as my dad, Frank Triemer, passed away over 20 years ago. He took our family to Ethiopia in the mid 1950’s, when I was two, on what was supposed to be a 3-year contract. He went with the State Department on a mission to help the Ethiopians to build their airline, and after the first 3-year contract he remained there under contract to TWA for an additional 6 years. I was 2 years old when I arrived there, so I spent the majority of my “Wonder Years” living in Addis Ababa.
Growing up there was, in retrospect, a true adventure, and completely unlike living would be in the US. We went to American schools, first the Army Dependents school and then a missionary school, and my mother taught at both schools. We had servants, not because we thought we needed them but because we were assured by fellow American ex patriots that it was the “right” thing to do — good for the people, good for the economy, and good for us. My father, a man of sensible Kansas roots, made sure that we didn’t grow up being spoiled and “over-privileged”, that we would treat the household staff with respect and appreciate the work they did. His efforts to make sure we didn’t grow up as whiny brats once led him, when I was whining that I didn’t have the “right” shoes for some occasion, to put me in the car and take me to the Mercato (the shopping area), to show me a beggar with no feet. He always wanted to make sure we understood how lucky we really were.
My sister and I played with the children of the staff and the little Italian kids from across the street, speaking an amalgamation of three languages. My father exposed us to cultures other than our own, taking us to countries on four continents to see the sights, hear the languages, taste the foods and experience the differences. But he was always a proud American, a WW2 Marine who had fought at Iwo Jima, and while he was very proud of our travels and the world view we developed, he made sure we always understood our American heritage and that as Americans we had been born lucky, “the most fortunate people on earth.”
He took great pride and joy in the work he did at Ethiopian Airlines, really loved it and his American, European and Ethiopian co-workers. His goal was to make sure it became a world-class airline, and I believe he and his coworkers were successful at that endeavor. I very much look forward to flying on that airline when I return to Addis Ababa in November. After 9 years in Ethiopia, when our family left there to move back to the States, the flight we took was entirely staffed by Ethiopians, from the maintenance, to the flight attendants, to the pilots. This was the very first entirely Ethiopian-staffed flight, and it was a great tribute to my father and the work he did for Ethiopian Airlines.
Let’s take this Father’s day to appreciate the men in our lives, our fathers and our husbands. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of quilters’ husbands with them at shows and shops. Some of these fellows seem to attend to carry the bags, others are involved in picking out fabrics, and there are even a few who proudly wear the mantle “Quilter” — like the fellow I saw wearing a shirt that proclaimed, “No, I’m not a lost husband! I’m a Quilter, too!
One of the male quilters I’d like to honor today is Richard Miller. You’ve seen on past blog posts some of the tops that Richard has made for us. I honestly don’t know how many he’s made, but I suspect it’s at least 30 in the last year or so. Richards tops are always beautifully made, cheerful, colorful, and fun for both boys and girls. He’s assisted in these endeavors by his wife, Martha, who has recently been making some tops herself. Thanks to both of you!
I got the quilting gene from my father’s mother, and my husband, Cliff, was quite supportive of my picking up what he thought was a “nice cheap hobby.” Yeah, right! Thousands of dollars have been spent over the last 10 years, as my first quilt eventually turned into a voluminous stash, several sewing machines, a mid-arm and a long-arm, and the construction to have the basement re-done as a quilting studio! After the first year of my hobby, as it was becoming an obsession, Cliff started saying, “but how many quilts do we need?” As he became concerned that we might run out of family members, I discovered Quilts Beyond Borders, which brought together my love of Ethiopia and Quilting. How much better can it be than to be able to do something you really love, for children who need and will treasure the results of your work? And the opportunity for me to do this for Ethiopian children is such a bonus. I greatly appreciate my husband’s somewhat bemused support of my “nice cheap hobby”, and he appreciates that I have an outlet for all these quilts!
Another quilters’ husband and father that I’d like to honor today is Rodger Fling. His wife, Noreen, and daughter, Holly, are two of the founders (along with June Colburn) of Quilts Beyond Borders. I suspect that Rodger initially thought, like Cliff did, that this charity would be a nice activity for his wife and daughter to be involved in. While Cliff has the good fortune that I’ve only expanded my hobby to every square inch of the basement, Rodger’s entire life and house has been taken over by quilts. At last count I believe Noreen had about 400 in various stages being prepared for transporting to Ethiopia, transporting to long armers, being kitted up for sewing at shows, being bound, etc., etc., etc. Rodger recently completed building of shelves for holding and organizing some of these many quilts — which will probably free up many of the flat surfaces so they can be used. For still MORE quilts! I suspect when Rodger is finally transported to the pearly gates, on clouds of quilts, there will be a very BIG halo waiting for him.
I asked Noreen to tell me a few things about Rodger’s activities with QBB. She replied, “Rodger is a big part of QBB. He has been involved with nearly all phases of QBB. He started in 2007, cutting fabric, helping to sandwich fabric, batting and backs, and going to Houston International Quilt Show for two weeks. Rodger spent hours adding volunteer names to our the QBB data bank and he keeps our bank accounting. Together we package quilts for shipping, he gets to move everything.”
So, today on Father’s day, let me give a big “THANK YOU!” to Richard, Rodger, the fathers who made us who we are, and the husbands who put up with and support this magnificent creative obsession!
Now, let’s all go quilt! Regards,