Louie was a great guy. I think I can say that nearly everybody loved him. Jim Reeves sang a song, "A Stranger's Just a Friend you do not Know" I'm not sure, but I think maybe whoever wrote that song knew my dad and had been inspired by him.
Dad was born in 1920. He was one of eight children, second to the youngest-- the youngest son. He grew up on a farm where the fiddle and guitar were played on the front porch on summer evenings, and an organ played in the front room on winter evenings.
They lived by their hands, surviving on what they grew on the farm. He grew up during the depression, drove a horse and buggy to town, and to church every Sunday. He wore mended clothes and knew that not a single tree in their orchard grew money.
And dad lived through mechanizing the farm--the great change from horse-drawn to gas powered. It was a change he initiated and saw through after his dad passed away.
He was brilliant; one of his greatest sorrows--perhaps it was more shame, was that he was forced out of school at the end of his eighth grade. His teacher begged my grandma to allow him to remain in school, but grandma refused. She needed him on the farm. Everyone else was working, in school, or gone.
When WWII started, he went to the enlistment office in Pittsburgh and signed up to go defend his country. When he told grandma, she found a ride to Pgh and "un-enlisted" him, explaining that her husband was gone, her three older sons were all marrried and gone, and she needed my dad to help her with the farm.
When the railyards in Pgh hired him, and he planned to stay in Pgh through the week, she went to the railyards and got him "un-hired".
No matter how he tried, he could never slip the yoke of that old farm out in the "hollow" as he called it.
So, he married my mom--a young RN from a tiny company town in a neighboring county, a "city gal with an education" as grandma referred to her, and set out to have eight children of his own.
Like in all lives, he had good times and bad. Mom and he stood beside each other through all of them--well, except for when she gave birth to each of us, and he dropped her off at the Emergency Room entrance and told her, "Call me when you're ready to come home."
He loved people, loved life, and was grateful for the small things.
He openly adored my mother, and loved his children and grandchildren.
Didn't matter the time of year. He'd step outside and
look around, then say, "I love to see the changing seasons." He'd step outside on the coldest day of winter and with a twinkle in his eye, say, "Brrrrr." And when it started to snow, he'd come in from outside and tell us "It'll be Christmas by morning." He yearned
for the peepers when winter was making its last gasps, marveled at trilliums and trailing arbutus when they bloomed. And autumn? He was in his glory. We all knew that Louie Cypher lived in the prettiest place ever--especially when autumn colored the leaves like Joseph's coat.
Hershey's fudge, cinnamon hardtack, molasses taffy, and homemade black walnut ice cream. Chopping the ice from the "crick" with an axe--to make the icecream. Rescued baby pigs squealing on the hearth in the middle of a bitterly cold January night. ~sigh~ A few of the things I'd never have experienced if he hadn't been my dad.
He taught us about love, about appreciation, about seeing the joy.
He was a character. He was a wounded child and a tough adult at the same time.
Most of all, he
taught an amazing lesson. For all the things that
could have made him a horribly bitter person, he wasn't.
All of the stonewalls built in front of him during his youth were bygones. He had taken lemons and made beautiful lemonade out of them. And it wasn't bitter at all.
Remembering you today... Happy 92nd birthday, dad. <3