The Glerums and the Faulstichs go way back. Dad and Jim were in the Army together, in the mid fifties, in Germany. They were spies! Actually, a bit less exciting, they were interpreters. Dad had learned Romanian, courtesy of the US Army Language School, and Jim German. As surely there was ten times more German stuff to be translated, I always picture Dad doing the daily crossword – hopefully the Romanian one, at least – while Jim actually worked.
A few years pass, they – Gretchen, Jim, Nancy, Rolf – come back to the states, to Seattle, Bellevue, Portland, Salem, Mercer Island. We had many family outings, Easters, birthdays, and such, with Rob, Julie, and Clairann. The Faulstichs are my god parents! Being a child of the seventies, I had a bit of trouble figuring this out, insofar as ‘godfather' had been completely subsumed by Mario Puzo. You can be sure that over the years – the decades – Jim would make certain that my moral upbringing was on track. No godson of his would stray.
I studied at the University of Washington, affording me a few more opportunities to see Jim and Gretchen. I don't remember the first time, driving down West Mercer Way, that I missed the turn into their driveway, but I can probably remember a dozen other times I missed it. It's just perched right up on that rolling corner, you can see it in your mind's eye, but maybe we've gone too far? Did we miss it? I think over 30 years, I'm probably at about 50/50.
I have an anecdote, which everyone here will see as pure Jim Faulstich. In college, I drove an MGB, a British two-seater, about as unreliable as you can imagine. It had an idiosyncrasy: you could unbolt a retaining bracket around the gearshift lever, and it would just pop right out. I used this as a security measure: even if you hotwired the car, well you couldn't put it in gear. So one time I'm out the Faulstichs, on Mercer Island – having found the driveway – and at the end of the evening, I say my thank-yous, and head out to my car. The gearshift is missing, so I reflexively reach under the seat for it. It's not there, so I get out to access the alternate security location, the trunk. In these couple of seconds I'm thinking it's a bit odd I had stashed it as such, insofar as Mercer Island not being a hotbed of crime. It's then, of course, that I see Jim over in the shadows, holding the gearshift, giggling like an eight-year-old.
I have one more anecdote, a longstanding piece of Glerum/Faulstich lore. For this one, we have to jump, some 50+ years, back to Germany. They're in town, Dad is driving, Jim is in the passenger seat. Somebody cuts Dad off, so he says, “quick, give me a German swear word”. German, of course, being renowned for its obscenities, and Jim being – unsurprisingly – a connoisseur, he immediately recites a mouthful of syllables. Dad leans his head out the window, and – being a linguist after all – dutifully and loudly recites them. Whoosh, everything ceases. Traffic stops, frauleins faint, birds fall from the sky. All heads turn, mouths wide, to stare at this impudent American serviceman. Because of my impeccable moral upbringing – due in no small part to my godfather – I never asked for a recollected translation, which of course I wouldn't have gotten anyway. Perhaps St. Peter remembered, and brought it up at the Pearly Gates.
Jim Faulstich was one of the greatest men I've ever known. Always good spirited, unflaggingly optimistic, ready willing and capable to engage on any topic, any time. Thank you Jim, for all you did for me, for my family.