Reminiscing

Every year as their birthdays approach I am reminded of how quickly the years go by. Today my grandson Caalab turns 15 years old. He will go and get his driving permit in a little while, and before I know it, he will be driving on his own like his sister, Shai, and their cousin, Chris. I sometimes wish I could turn back the hands of time to when they were little kids again. It seemed like we had so many years before they would be grown then, but that belief was deceiving, and now the years are gone.

Looking back on Caalab’s childhood, I am reminded of what a comedian he was and still is. He was just about 2 years old, when his dad, my son-in-law, Travis taught him to make little fists, and say, “You want some of this!” No, Caalab wasn’t being taught to fight. It was all a joke, because Caalab was and still is a very loving boy. When asked to say, “Do you want some of this”, he did it with a huge grin on his face, and immediately after saying it, Caalab would disolve into delighted giggles. He would never choose to be a fighter, because he didn’t have that kind of a personality…he loves people. It always struck him as the funniest thing…that thought of putting up his dukes and fighting with someone. His eyes shone with delight to see just how funny we all found his little drama.

Caalab was always a jokster. He loved making people laugh, and if something he say got him a good laugh from people, he would go for it again. I’m sure you all remember “The Dukes of Hazard”. And I’m sure you remember Rosco P Coltrane and his famous saying, “It was a Horrendous Crash.” When Amy tried to teach Caalab to say that, but it just wouldn’t come out right. Caalab always said, “It was a Horrendous Dash.” When we all laughed, so did he, and then he would do a repeat performance. It was so funny to hear him say it that we asked over and over again.

The cute little kid things that our children and grandchildren say are so precious that we really do wish that those years could go on forever…that they would never grow up…but then, right before our very eyes, they do grow up, and one day you just sort of wake up to find that they are 15 years old and getting their learner’s permit. Where did the time go? Caalab, you can’t be so grown up yet. Happy Birthday Buddy!! We love you very much!!

When I think of my grandparents now, I always think of their latter years. They seemed more serious during that time, and now that I have experienced aging parents and in-laws, I can understand how that can be. People get more tired as they age, and the aches ad pains that can come with it often makes them forget the days of youth and the stamina that went with it. I’m not saying that they never had any fun, it’s just that life was harder and since it was a lot more work, they just didn’t have the same stamina that I remembered from before. The nice thing about pictures is that they are a reminder of days from the past, and sometimes, they can take you by surprise, because they portray events or personalities from the past.

My grandfather was smitten by my grandmother from the day he first met her. He simply delighted in everything she did. And my grandmother was a bit of a teaser, so when she would get that urge to be a little goofy, he was always thrilled with the whole thing. They were both always happy people. They always reminded me of that old song, “Side By Side”. They were just traveling along singing a son, side by side. Circumstances didn’t really matter so much, because they always knew that tomorrow was another day and nothing was all that bad anyway. They had their family, their health, and the smiles on their faces, and everything was going to be just fine.

My grandparents survived the Great Depression years, and like many other people, money was scarce and families were big, but somehow they always found a way to have enough food on the table, a smile on their lips, and a song in their hearts. They helped their neighbors and even the strangers that always seemed to find their way to their table, hungry and in need of warmth. They never turned anyone away. I suppose that is why their always had enough. Somehow, God always finds a way for those who will give to those in need. He makes a way for them to always have enough, and that is what was always the case for them.

My grandparents were married on Christmas Eve, so Christmas always a special time of year for them, filled with lots of celebration, and much gladness. As I said, my grandfather was smitten with my grandmother from day one, in fact you could say that he thought she hung the moon. He always got such a kick out of her antics, and when she decided to dance a little jig, he would look on with delight…unless he just decided to join right in. My grandparents have been living in Heaven for a long time, now, and I miss them very much, but when I see pictures like these, I find myself smiling at the memory of those happy days.

It is a dilemma that every mother of a baby girl has had at one time or another. That statement that was intended as sweet, that came out as insulting…at least to the mom. You know the one, “Oh, he is just adorable and so handsome!” Your first thought is, “Really, you think my little girl looks like a boy…Seriously!! I mean she is wearing pink, for Pete’s sake!!” Deep down you know that it is very hard to tell a girl baby from a boy baby, but you secretly hoped your little princess would be the exception to the rule…you know, the one that was so beautiful, even as an infant that it was obvious that she was a girl. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and you try to control your tongue as you stand there seething for the third time this shopping trip. You grit your teeth, and say,”She’s a girl!” Of course, the person in front of you, who now knows very well that they have insulted you and your little princess, meant nothing by it, and really wishes they could become invisible…or better yet that they had kept their comment generic, so they would not find themselves in the position they now find themselves in, but it is too late. They apologize and quickly move away, but you are left with the knowledge that you have to do something to protect your darling little daughter from such abusive remarks in the future.

So, since you are already in the store, you set out to solve this problem, once and for all. Obviously, pink isn’t the answer, so what is next. I mean, she doesn’t have enough hair for ribbons or bows yet. Well, when my daughters were babies, there were no baby headbands, but I’m sure many of you are starting to see where the idea for a baby headband came from. My mother’s generation tried many things to girlify their daughters. Even dresses weren’t totally helpful, because many people back when my parents were little put both boys and girls in a long baby gown. And even when my girls were babies, there was the pajama sack…a night gown that had the bottom sewed up to keep their little feet inside and warm.

My mother told me to tape a bow to their heads, or use corn syrup to make it stick. I never really liked the mess that made, so I determined to find another way. I suppose many people would think I was trying to go back to the Old West, but I never really thought of it that way when put their little bonnets on my girls heads. All I knew is that they looked so cute, and no one would think they were boys again!

Long before there was such a thing as a Diva, my niece Chantel was one. That little girl posed for every shot of the camera, and even if no one was taking a picture. It was just second nature to her. She was posing before she could walk. Chantel was a teeny little girl, who still only stands 4’10” and she is a mom. So those days she was just the cutest little Diva there ever was.

It’s funny how some people are just born with style, and they really don’t worry about the current trends, they just wear what they like. That was and always has been how Chantel is, and since she is a fashionista, she need not worry about it anyway. I must admit, however, that when she was younger, her idea of fashion was a little different than what I would have worn, but that is probably pretty normal, considering that I am her aunt, and not the same age or even close.

There was also the whole game of dress up, which we all know little girls love to play, and those outfits, like this one, can be pretty comical…especially the wearing of the adults glasses or sunglasses. They look for funny on those little teeny faces, but as we all know, they are the finishing touch to the whole ensemble!! And what outfit is complete without the heels. I mean really, a girl has to look amazing for her adoring fans…right!! And if you are liked Chantel, who is very short, those heels help put you in the height category of the big kids…very important, you know!!

Chantel will always be one of those people who doesn’t even have to try to take a great picture. It all just comes naturally to her. She is very photogenic, and enjoys having her picture taken too. Yes, Chantel always was and always will be a fashion diva, and that’s ok with us.

Kids have always loved playing in boxes and most of us can attest, and some kids can really get carried away with boxes. When the box becomes more important that the item in the box, you know that your kid is one of those kids. Of course, this is something kids just do when they are little, and it doesn’t last very long, so it is something you should smile about while you still can.

Sometimes, they are so infatuated with the box that you start to wonder if you should just wrap that up instead, because they would have more fun with it. Of course, clothes are always a good option, because they can get rid of those pretty quickly and then they are left with the box. Cool, in their opinion…and maybe in yours too.

My youngest daughter, Amy was one of those kids who really loved to play in boxes and with boxes. For whatever reason, it fascinated her. She liked to put things in the boxes just to see if they would fit, or get in the boxes and play. Seriously, who needed toys. Just give Amy a box. Birthdays and Christmas were great fun for her…even if it wasn’t her birthday or her present. And nobody had to fight with her over their gift, just hand her the box.

It is kind of sad these days, at least while children are little, that most gifts come in bags, because you can’t really play with a bag in the same way. In fact, it ends up looking just like wrapping paper, which oddly, doesn’t hold much interest for the kids. I would think they would love to rip it up and make noise with it, but they just don’t.

One of the funniest times concerning a child in a box however, was the Christmas that Amy was 1 1/2. She was really into the whole playing with boxes thing, but have no idea how big a box needed to be to hold a kid. Someone had opened a gift, and given Amy the box, and after playing with it for a while, she decided to sit in it. Well, as most of you know, Amy was and is a pretty small girl, and at 1 1/2, she was about the size of a 6 month old baby. That didn’t really help matters very much, however, when she decided that she could fit in a shoe box. It was a fact that simply escaped Amy, and I’m not sure she would have cared anyway, because, what mattered is that even if she did overflow a little, she found a way to sit in that shoe box. I mean, that is what boxes are for…right!!

When I was a kid, one of the fun things to do was the stare down. Two people stare at each other until one blinks. The one who stares the longest without blinking is the winner. There was never any real purpose for this little game except to outlast your opponent, and that seemed to be the thing to do. And the funny thing was that it wasn’t just little kids that did it. Teenagers did it too. Maybe it was a silly kids game, and maybe it was a way to test ourselves…to see how long we might be able to endure. I don’t know for sure, but it was the contest of choice when we were goofing around…especially when we had cousins in town.

Of course, some of us were better at it than others. I would love to say that I was one of the best, but I think I probably fell somewhere in the middle. As I recall, Alena and Allyn were pretty good at it, and my cousin Terry was good too. Whenever he was in town, you could bet that there would be a few competitions that included the stare down that would end up in the mix of events.

It’s funny how quite often it is that you and your cousins are the most competitive. Sometimes it goes to the point of not getting along at all, but that was never the case with our family. The stare down and other competitions were always done in good clean fun, and were very much enjoyed by all of us. We left the fighting to other things…things that were more important, like who was a tattletale, or who hit who. Thankfully none of that happened so very much.

We always enjoyed the times when our cousins would come to visit, which became less and less as we all got older, and started working or got married. Those were some of the greatest times, and I miss them very much. Sometimes I wish things didn’t have to change so much…because in the stare down of life, time is always the winner.

Father’s Day is always bittersweet for me because my dad lives in Heaven now, but I still have my father-in-law. I miss my dad so much. The great times we had. Dad was such a wonderful dad. He had five daughters and no sons. He was so patient and he knew better than to expect to be on time for anything, because when five daughters were trying to get ready for anything, it would take hours.

My father-in-law is also no stranger to the time daughters can take. He has 4 daughters and 2 sons. I think fathers of daughters have to be a patient breed. Daughters are not only slow to get ready for the day but they are quite often drama queens as we all know. So these men are both very special men.

I can say without hesitation that I have been blessed with two of the most amazing dads that ever lived. And I can also say that I wish I could always have both of them here. That is not to be though because my dad is in Heaven and my father-in-law is getting older too. I know the day will come when they both live in Heaven, but I will try to hold that day off as long as I can.

A dad is someone we seem to take for granted when we are little and then when we are older, we wish we had those days back. Sometimes I wish I could be a kid again, so that I could have all the years back. As you get older and start losing parents, you realize how precious they are. I guess that if we knew how quickly that can happen, we would count each moment as precious.

Sometimes you look at a picture and it hits you. This is a face you have seen somewhere else. Sometimes it is hard to figure out just who this person reminds you of, but sometimes it is so clear that it is shocking. As I was looking through some old pictures last night, I came upon this one of my sister Allyn. It was so surprising to me. I had never seen the resemblance before, but my sister’s grandson Ethan looks so much like his grandma that it was uncanny.

I knew that Ethan looks like his daddy, my nephew Ryan, and I knew that Ryan took after our side of the family more than his dad’s side, but seeing that picture of Allyn that is so amazingly like Ethan somehow surprised me. Maybe other people in the family had seen the similarities too, but now one had mentioned it as far as I know. So maybe I wasn’t the only one who had somehow missed it. Whatever the case may be, here I was staring at the the picture of my sister that was so clearly also the face of her grandson.

In researching the family history, I have looked at many pictures old and new, and no matter how often I find a face that belongs to more than one person, I always find my self…stunned. I don’t know why really, but I guess somehow I just don’t think people can often be reproduced so exactly…but I seem to be wrong on that, because clearly, that is exactly what I was looking at…again.

I don’t think I will be able to look at Allyn, Ryan, or Ethan again without looking for similarities. I know that they all look very much alike now, and the only reason it isn’t easy to see, is the differences in their ages. But with the benefit if pictures from different ages on each person, you can clearly see just how much they look alike.

Our family is no stranger to miracles. Sometimes things happen that change lives in an instant. In the blink of an eye you are faced with a situation that is so serious that you have no time to think, and it is just as well, because you can’t wrap your mind around what you are seeing anyway. You find yourself running on autopilot, because it is the only thing that keeps you going. It is at that moment that your faith in God to take care of your child is the most important thing in your life…and theirs.

When my grand nephew, James was six, his dad brought him home after a visitation, and he and my niece, Toni were talking in her back yard while James played. Boys being who boys are, James decided to jump off the deck and swing on the clothes line wire. Unfortunately, the clothes line pole was not very solidly in the ground. When James hit that wire, the pole came down and hit him squarely across the back of the head, cracking his skull. Blood went everywhere, and Toni and Jim couldn’t believe their eyes. Here was their precious little boy injured and bleeding in front of them, and their minds were struggling to come to grips with what they were seeing. They sprang into action, grabbing a towel for his head and rushed him to the hospital.

James began to ask for his grandma, my sister Cheryl, because he wanted her to reassure him that he was going to be ok. Cheryl was called to the hospital, and when she arrived they all prayed over James, and the doctors took him into surgery. James was in surgery for 4 hours, during which time a Titanium plate was placed inside his skull. That plate will be there for the rest of his life.

So many things could have happened that would have brought this situation to a very different ending…but they didn’t. James came through the surgery with flying colors, and the doctors were amazed. He couldn’t have visitors, for a time, because too much movement and stimulation makes it hard for the brain to heal, and there was much healing that needed to happen.

James did remarkably well in the healing process…miraculously so. No other explanation works. He was back to himself very fast for having had a serious head and brain injury, and there were no ill effects from it. It was a miracle. Today that walking miracle is turning 15. James is a sweet, loving young man who is a joy to his parents. His has grown tall, strong and handsome. I don’t know if he knows what a miracle his life is, but we, his family know. We can never forget what God has done for James. His life was repaired and given back to him by a loving and miraculous God. Happy birthday James!! We love you!!

My nephew, Garrett is a man who loves his family. No, he is not married, but he loves his parents, sisters, and in a very special way, his young cousins. Garrett will make a great dad some day, because he loves children. They just click. He doesn’t mind playing their games, and they love being around this grown up who has a little bit of kid in him too. He rough houses with them and chases them around. All the things that little kids like to do. Maybe Garrett forgot to grow up or something.

Garrett is a family kind of a guy, but with a bit of a wild side…or should I say a crazy side. Garrett is a man who is really all kid. He likes to joke around with everyone. And his sisters are two of his prime targets. If he isn’t attacking them, he is hugging them. And since he would never hurt them, either prospect isn’t a bad deal. It’s just that you never know quite what to expect from a brother like that. And if I were those girls, I wouldn’t turn my back on him too often.

Nevertheless, Garrett is a great guy. He is helpful to those who need his help, and kind to those needing kindness. He is a friend to everyone he meets, and is loved by all who know him. He is a guy that doesn’t mind helping he grandmother. And we all know that a lot of kids are too busy for things like that, but not Garrett. He comes to help at her house when she asks him to, and helps her get into church on Sundays. He is just like that.

I know that whatever Garrett decides to do with his life, he will succeed at it, because he has the perfect mix of ingredients…love, kindness, playfulness, craziness, wildness, goofiness…all tings that make him the great guy that he is. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! We love you.

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