As I grow older it occurs to me that my life span in this world is limited. I have had many friends and family members who are no longer with us.
Like other people I had four grandparents. One grandmother died two years before I was born. Emilie Moltzan Domke was my paternal grandmother, born in Warsaw, but—like my grandfather—ethnic German. I never got to meet her.
My paternal grandpa, Rudolph Domke, lived to age 89, with surviving family members and memories to keep him company. Tragically, he outlived both of his sons.
My ethnic Polish maternal grandparents, Jesse Stossel and Mary Pytel Stossel, lived long enough that I remember them both. Jesse passed away when I was eight years old. Mary lived 19 more years, also with memories and her family to keep her company.
By high school several of my friends and relatives had passed on, but the illness and death of my father—Elmer Domke—years later led me to reflect more on what life and lives truly should mean to us.
My father worked hard all his life and I am grateful for who he was and what he stood for. I learned to celebrate lives of those we love, even as we mourn them. My parents were good people, from families who learned their values in the Old Country and brought them to America. They taught Christian values to their children.
In military service people I knew died, some of natural causes, some in combat, and a few from accidents. I honor them by remembering how they lived and what they stood for. We rightly should remember and honor the lives of people who have given so much to make our lives better.
Each friend, relative, comrade in arms, co-worker or acquaintance, living or dead, is part of my experience and lives as a part of me. And I celebrate what they have meant to me. Their lives still mean something, and I am grateful they touched my life. In so doing they made me a better man. I wish I had thanked more of them when I could have done so, and I pray God has granted them their welldeserved rest. They live on in my memory and in who I am today.
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.