By Marshall Vandruff
I am Jean's 2nd-born son, writing in the year 2003. I am forty-four years old, remembering many childhood events, and I will recall a few.
When I was four years old, I heard "Puff, The Magic Dragon" on the radio and fell in love with it. Dad sought out the record and brought it home. He did the same with a song called "Dry Bones" that he didn't find easily, but eventually presented it to me with the pride of a hunter presenting his kill. I listened to it over and over and over. I loved those records and still love the memory of them.
It was also around that age that he punished me when he shouldn't have. When I later awakened from a nap, I saw his face at my level, apologizing. I remember seeing and smelling my dad's face close to mine, and I remember his spirit of repentance vividly. I remember the punishment, too, but not as vividly.
When I had to go into the first grade, I was scared. Dad took me to the classroom early to meet the teacher before any other students and stayed there with me, not willing to leave until I was comfortable enough to stay. He may have been there five minutes or twenty, but he finally asked if it was okay to leave and I said yes. Then he left.
The most significant of all was the Military School incident. JV, a military man, decided to provide a dose of military training for his sons to strengthen their character. I was not yet five, Mark was seven, and I was excited about my first real adventure away from home with my big brother as we rode the bus together from Anaheim to Long Beach. When we got there I was immediately separated from Mark and I don't remember whether I was there for a day or a week, but the images of unvarnished emotional brutality are shocking to me forty years later. I came home crying, pleading with my parents not to send me back.
When my dad heard this, he paced the living room floor in conflict, wrestling with whether he should allow feelings to override principles, whether he should "give in" to a crying child or force me to learn military discipline. His wide-eyed, tense pacing has always been a picture to me of a man in crisis.
Much to his credit, he heeded the crying child. One morning, the bus took Mark away and left me. It was now Mark's problem. I got to stay home and watch Eleanor exercise to Jack LaLanne, which was much more enjoyable than military school and helped me become the sensitive lover of human form that I am today. But this is about my dad, not me.
A common theme of these incidents is that Jean, a dominant male, was willing to submit to higher values than dominating.
I want to tell of another theme that took place thirty years later, when I was thirty-five. My son Rembrandt was about two. I needed to move my studio into an adjacent apartment so that I could get work done. It was a big job for which I'm ill-equipped. Dad was there every day, not only helping me move my studio, but make it better.
I once fantasized having an expert follow me around all day and assess how I could do better. My dad fulfilled this. He spent countless hours analyzing my studio design, wall space, supply placement, shelves, wiring, air flow, wiring, light positions... everything that could be considered - big and small. He built a drawing table that solved my ergonomic problems, even to the point of customizing measurements to the length of my arms.
All during these months, my son saw his grandpa coming over every day, assessing problems, improvising solutions, critiquing them, refining them, trying them, running into new problems, and carrying through until everything worked. Rembrandt, in his earliest years, observed Jean's generosity and skill, poured out tirelessly to my advantage.
Thank you dad. I know that many of my gifts as a creative craftsman come from you, not only from the genetic inheritance that is out of your control, but from the inheritance that you have freely given: your financial support and patience with me to get a difficult career started, the generosity of your time, and your example of attending to detail that touched me like a flame to fuel. I hope to do good work that even if it is beyond your taste or approval, will reflect God's glory and your own, and will bless others as you have blessed me.
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