• Katherine Dudley Hoehn

Happy Birthday!




Yesterday was my youngest grandchild's first birthday. Because of Corona, we had a Zoom party with participants from as far away as Australia. I made this sign for her.


Although they were born ninety-nine years apart, she will hear the stories of her great Grandfather, Harry, a member of the Greatest Generation. In 2011 The Washington Post published a blog I wrote about him. It is reproduced here, with a few extra thoughts.


He was born in 1920, to loving parents who doted on him and treated him like a little prince. His mother died of complications of asthma when he was six and he was left in the care of his father and a loving aunt, who moved into their home to care for him. It was from her that he learned to be a perfect gentleman, generous in every way.


Dad was a public servant, a county hospital administrator in the sleepy Florida town where I grew up with my siblings and our Mother.


He wasn’t an athlete and had no interest in sports. I grew up in a house where we watched news and police action shows if we were allowed to watch TV. We watched the Rose Bowl Parade, not the game.



Dad was an impatient gardener who loved flowers and landscapes and a beautiful garden setting. Plants needed to bloom or they were replaced and he had a tendency to over-water and over-feed, a habit that extended to child rearing.


As an only child, he spent much of his time with adults. But he learned valuable lessons about the importance of communication, taking care of others and giving. He was a generous person and taught us that it is more important to give.


Dad was a very proud grandparent and loved the boys so much. He bought them special gifts, took them on outings and followed all of their activities with interest. We spoke by phone often and Dad ended every call with “we love you sweetheart.” How I miss that.


Important lessons with grandson #1

I am grateful that Dad encouraged me to write. I remember the first year I got to help address the Christmas cards and the fountain pen I received for the task. It felt very important and most of all I loved the encouragement and the time with just the two of us. It was special and all ours.


Words of wisdom for baby Robert

Dad was also an inspiration with his faith in God. It is fitting that he’s watching over us from heaven now, knowing, in the end, it will only really matter that we were faithful and loving and caring to those around us.


Since it's your day and a centennial celebration of you, I will add a short list of some of the lessons you taught me in the nearly half century I got to spend with you:


  • Time is precious.

  • If you say nothing else, make it a word of encouragement.

  • Parting with “I love you” means your last words will always be the most important.

  • Others deserve your generosity and will remember you for it.

  • Writing is a gift and you must practice it.

  • Your faith is something no one can take from you and that you mustn’t ignore.

  • Living things must be tended to and appreciated.

  • When you receive a gift, make sure you give thanks in return.

  • Parenting is a hard but rewarding job; your children are your greatest gifts.


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