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Fall 2007: The Grunge Report

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Our daughter’s name would have been Heather Elise Runge. Carol and I liked the name Heather, and Elise came from a desire, I think, for something a little out of "Hoosier ordinary"—something that wouldn’t "interfere" with the first name. Her birth date was July 5, 1971. That date came less than a month after my Wabash graduation and less than a month before I reported for duty with the US Air Force.

Unfortunately, our little girl never took a breath. Carol toiled in labor for 15 hours as I sat helplessly by. When it came time to go to delivery, I was told I could not go and instead headed to the hospital chapel. Our little girl went straight to being our second Guardian Angel.

Three strapping boys followed—Chris (Wabash Class of 94), Court, and Jeremy. We often kid Jer, all 6’5" of him, that he was supposed to be the girl. He takes it well. These young men have brought a couple of challenges, to be sure, but they have also brought immense joy and pride. They are now all great young men, and Carol and I are so very proud of them.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a hole in our hearts. After all, only a daughter can cuddle with a teddy bear and not use it for karate practice. Only a daughter can wink at her Dad and he’ll drop everything in a New York minute. Only a daughter can lay her head on your chest and make the rest of the world, and its troubles, disappear. Only a daughter brings the creative genius of God right to your family. And only a daughter will keep you up late at night—much later than any sons!

Carol and I now have six grandchildren. We think the world of each and every one. They are all healthy and happy and our children, and their spouses, are exceptional parents. Five grandsons—Coley, Owen, Karston, Max, and Jeremiah.

…and one little girl.

In August of 2004, Madelynn Carol Runge was born to Jeremy and Stacey. Madelynn arrived three weeks early. As luck would have it, Jeremy and Stacey were living with us as they were right in the middle of relocating from North Carolina to Indiana. Carol and I got to see Maddy grow from infancy. Maddy had to overcome a few minor health challenges but, as she approaches three years of age, she’s raring to go.

Maddy has become our little girl. She and her brother couldn’t quite pronounce my new call sign "Grandpa Grunge," so I have now officially become "Ga’Bunge." I wear that name tag proudly. When she looks at me and says "I hunge, Ga’Bunge," my next move is to find whatever she is hungry for and provide it, parental approval or not. I will not let her starve. When she sits down with me to read a book, it doesn’t matter if she brings one book or ten—we’ll read them all. When she goes through every single excuse under the sun as to why she should not go to bed quite yet, I listen to her until she’s so tired she can’t talk. Somehow I just can’t turn out the light and close the door.

I worry about the world Maddy will inherit and I worry about all the things that will influence her life.

I am only half kidding when I suggest to her Mom and Dad that the convent at 10 years of age is about right. In fact, that might even be a year too late. I don’t worry in the same way about the world for the grandsons. Why? I do not know. There may be some kind of mechanism in me that says I hacked it and they will as well. For a little girl, it’s just different.

I plan to be around as Maddy grows. I’ll be there for her—as long as I can. And, I am pretty sure, in the grand scheme of things, that she, too, has anextra Guardian Angel.

—Tom Runge ’71, Director of Alumni Affairs;