On this day, 88 years ago, Arthur Thomas Schmidt was born in Jersey City, NJ to Adolf and Johanna, who immigrated to this country from Germany. Sixty-one years later, I finally got to meet this wonderful man when I was born into this world by his oldest daughter, Joanne.
Arthur Thomas Schmidt was my grandfather and I cannot explain the depth of emotion that I hold inside of me for this amazing man. So, instead, let me share with you some of who he was and why he means so much to me.
My grandfather grew up in Jersey City and met my grandmother, Gertrude, through his buddy Charlie. At the time, Charlie and my grandfather were enlisted in the Army and were just home on leave. My grandparents decided to write back and forth to each other and from there their relationship budded and grew. Long story short, my grandparents were married in November 1943 and remained so until the day he died.
My grandfather was stationed both in the Yukon and across the Atlantic in Europe during World War II. After the war was over, he came home and worked in places like Kellogg's and the U.S. Postal Service to support his growing family. But no matter how busy he was with work, he always found time to be a father.
My grandparents had and raised five wonderful children, two boys and three girls. My mother is the oldest girl, like myself. When my mother learned she was pregnant with me, my grandparents were very loving and supportive of her. Both she and I were very blessed to have them in our lives, especially when my mother was transferred from New Jersey to Florida with her job. They were retired and decided to come to Florida with my mother and I ...so I was privileged enough to grow up in a house with my grandparents and my mother.
My grandfather was my first male role model. I credit him for nurturing my sense of humor among many other things. He was always patient and loving with me, and let me do things he probably would not have let anyone else do (like be his hairstylist [see below]). We would watch baseball together and he would always help me understand what was going on in the game. Whenever we would watch National Geographic, he would joke that "There you are, Jess," when the monkeys would be on ...so I would point him out when the baboon was shown. I would help him put together his 1000 piece puzzles (well, I tried, at least! lol) and he taught me how to play Gin Rummy (not to mention 52-card pick-up! ^.^). When needed, my grandfather could be strict with me, but he was always loving and kind.
In him, I learned about the characteristics of the man I wanted to be with one day. I truly feel in my heart that he left me a path that led me here to Nebraska and to Jaimie. After my grandfather died in February 1997, my grandmother, mother, and I know that he watches over us. Whenever we see a butterfly, it is our way of knowing that he is with us. When I met Jaimie, he told me he lived in a small town south of Omaha. The name of that town: Papillion, which means 'butterfly' in French.
Since the start of this pregnancy, I have worn a small butterfly necklace as a way of reminding me that Grandpa is with me and is looking out for me and the great-grandchild he will never get to meet in person. I do wish that he was still here and could see this little baby for himself ... and that my children could grow up knowing this wonderful man who played such a special role in my life. But, instead, he will watch over and protect us all ...and I will get the privilege of telling our children about who he was and what he did for me.