Mad for…Christine

Jeff, Christine, Jennifer, Jeffrey and George Utzinger

I have a lot of respect for genuine people. They might not be perfect, but at least they’re not pretending to be. (A. Gucciardi)

When their children and ours were little, we were neighbors. It was just impossible not to find the whole family likable, and even more improbable to not fall in love with their three absolutely adorable children— Jennifer, Jeffrey and George. This explains why it really was a crisis for the entire neighborhood when their young son went missing (briefly) many years back. Christine was frantic. The Carmel police department was called. All of us were searching the nooks and crannies of the area…until he was found…inside his toy box! It makes me laugh all these years later and honestly I never even asked Christine if that is actually where he was or just the very funny story I heard secondhand.

For me, this little tale illustrates what I have always loved about the Utzinger family, and especially Christine. She’s just so real, so utterly relatable. For me, nothing beats an unpretentious person. It’s often what connects me with others. I mean, one would have to be heartless to refuse to help a mom whose toddler has wandered off, but that’s not the point here. The fact is, Christine is beloved by all who know her because she is joyful, sunny and completely genuine!

We did some grade school carpooling together for a time, and she was the most generous and thoughtful partner in crime. Christine goes out of her way for others everyday. It’s just who she is. Her laughter, sense of fun, terrific smile and compassionate heart make the world just a much warmer place to inhabit! Also, (sidebar) the woman can bake and the results are delicious works of art. Seriously, the woman is gifted.

Christine Utzinger is as bright and articulate as she is beautiful— and she really is stunning. She is truly a charming and faith-filled woman of God! When I had a scary health diagnosis early in the year, her kindness reaching out was more meaningful than she knows.

So, this week (if my calendar is accurate) Christine celebrates her birthday. Tomorrow (12/18) is her day, I believe! I wanted to take a moment and give her a little shout out to let her know that I am overdue to let her know that she is a giant scoop of awesome sauce! Love you Christine! Happy Birthday!!! I miss you, my friend. ❤️

Mad for…Rich

When all the dust is settled and all the crowds are gone, the things that matter are faith, family and friends. (Barbara Bush)

I think I’ve mentioned before in this little blog that my husband, Tom Thieme, is the son of parents who were both twins. His mom, Jane, was an identical twin. She passed away a few years ago, but her twin sister, Lynn, survives. Meanwhile, his Dad, Tom, just celebrated his 80th birthday with his twin sister, Josephine. Today, I want to tell you a little about Josephine’s son, Rich.

Rich is the only son of Josephine and the late Dick Deible. His sister is a terrific human named Christine. He’s also the uncle to three great young people named Molly, Grace, and Sean Wehner. Rich is a Purdue engineer who I think earned his master’s degree at the University of South Carolina? If I have that wrong, Rich, I apologize. Anyway, he’s a Gamecock fan and a Boilermaker fan….and I can live with that combination!

I’m told as a child that Rich was kind of finicky. His cousins mention that when they talk about him as a little guy. I didn’t know him then, and all I can tell you is that he drinks beer like he’s a Thieme…and the adjective I would choose there certainly isn’t “finicky”, ha? He strikes me now as amiable, gentle, and witty.

Here’s what I really admire about Rich. He’s a single guy and his home is in South Carolina. The distance that he lives from the bulk of his family is significant. Rich does not seem to let that hinder him from doing an exceptional job fostering his family relationships. Whenever there’s a family event of significance, Rich travels and is present. It would be extremely easy to excuse oneself from weddings, funerals, big birthday parties, etc in his situation. That’s not who he is though.

Just a few weeks ago, I saw him at the big 80th birthday bash that was held for his mom and his Uncle Tom (my father-in-law) at the Thieme and Wagner Brewing Company in downtown Lafayette, Indiana. That’s a long haul from Aiken, South Carolina. What struck me about his smile and his presence wasn’t the extraordinary lengths he went to getting himself there, it was the fact that I assumed he would be present. That’s Rich. He’s a guy whose life has taken him in a different direction than the rest of his family, but his roots are important to him and so he remains attached. He’s got a great laugh and a genuine smile that I always enjoy. Rich Deible is in my eyes a friendly, compassionate man of integrity. This world can sure use as many of those guys as we can get!

So, today, I just wanted to give Rich a little shout out and let him know that by his witness he has helped remind me that being part of a family means you are part of something worth preserving, something kind of wonderful. I love the way he loves his family, and although I am merely an in-law cousin, I strongly suspect his mom, sister, nieces, nephew, aunts, uncles and cousins feel the very same way! I pray his roots will remain interminably tangled with all those he loves. Merry Christmas to you, Rich! I hope your holiday season is full of smiles and the new year brings you lots of joy!

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. (Jane Howard)