Little boys want nothing more than to be just like their daddies, and my nephew, Ryan Hadlock was no exception. When Ryan was about two years old, he loved to watch his daddy, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock play the guitar. To Ryan, playing the guitar was the epitome of his daddy. Ryan almost saw them as one and the same. As we all know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Ryan wanted nothing more than to imitate his daddy when he was playing the guitar. The only problem was that Ryan didn’t have a guitar, and his daddy’s guitar was too big for him. Enter the imagination of a little boy.
Ryan began to improvise. If it resembled a guitar in Ryan’s mind, he used it like a guitar. Some of his favorite “guitars” were things like a fly swatter, broom, sticks, and even cardboard. And if nothing was readily available, Ryan would simply play the air guitar. Ryan knew all the moves too. As he played, he would twist himself in all different ways, like a rock star does. Never mind if his sisters though he was just a little bit unhinged! Ryan didn’t care, because they couldn’t possibly understand anyway. It was a guy thing…and something he got to share with his daddy, just them…no girls allowed. You see, being the only boy in a family of four children, meant that Ryan was outnumbered by girls. He needed something that was just for the guys, and it didn’t hurt that he and his daddy loved to play the guitar. Of course, there were also a few other Ryan/Daddy moments too, like horsing around, knuckle rubs, or wrestling matches…the normal daddy/son things. Still, these never really held a candle to playing the guitar, just like his daddy, as far as Ryan was concerned. He has simply loved it all his life.
When Ryan was about 16 or 17, his parents bought him and electric guitar. He was in Seventh Heaven to have a real guitar of his own. It was like a right of passage. He was now a man…just like his dad was. He was entrusted with a wonderful instrument that was one that a responsible person got to have, and he absolutely treasured it. Recently, his dad gave him a 12 string guitar, and Ryan loves playing that one too. I don’t suppose that he still does all the rock star moves, but then I could be wrong about that. Some things you outgrow, and others you don’t. It doesn’t really matter anyway, because most of us who know him, and especially his family, can still vividly see that sweet little two year old boy playing the flyswatter, the broom, cardboard…or even just the air. Today is Ryan’s birthday. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Several of my cousins were talking a couple of days ago on Facebook, about our grandmother, Hattie Byer, and how she kept her numerous grandchildren in line when they were at her house. Now, in reality, I pretty much mean Greg Hushman, Elmer Johnson, and Forest Beadle, because most of the rest of us would never have done anything to provoke the Wrath of Grandma!! It’s funny, but I can almost hear the skepticism from every reader. Ok, I’ll admit that I was no less likely to get into trouble with Grandma than Greg, Elmer or Forest, but I truly don’t recall having her coming after me with the broom, although my cousin Shirley Cameron, who is from the other side of my family remembers it once or twice, when she was over there with us.
One thing I do remember, and that I know every one of Grandma’s grandchildren will agree on, Grandma was the boss when you were at her house. You see, those were the days when it didn’t matter if the adult in the vicinity was your parent, grandparent, or the parent of the friend you were visiting, they all disciplined the kids who got out of line. And if some adult caught you doing something in the public arena that you shouldn’t be, such as graffiti or some other such mischief, they weren’t afraid to tell you to “knock it off” either. That was just the way things were back then. From what I am told of this barely five foot tall, broom wielding grandma of mine, she was able to make that broom go around corners, so if you thought you were going to get away from her, you might just as well think again.
I certainly remember that when you found yourself in trouble with Grandma, you were about to get a very clear understanding of what the word “trouble” meant. Yes, I too, had my share of times in my childhood where I found myself on the wrong side of Grandma Byer. Oh boy, believe me, it was not a place you wanted to be. And don’t think she was going to threaten to tell your mom just how bad you were, and then conveniently forget to do it when the time actually came for your parents to come home. Grandma wasn’t about to be the helpless little babysitter who had to wait for your parents to make you behave…oh no!! Whether she used a broom, her hand, or some other punishment, believe me when I say the punishment was swift, and it fit the crime. You see, Grandma was old school, before there was a new school form of discipline. People weren’t afraid of some well meaning, but not too bright passerby telling them they shouldn’t spank that kid…those people didn’t exist then. People knew that most situations required a little whack on the seat to get through to the brain. For many of us those lessons made it crystal clear, who was in charge, who was acting up, who would refrain from such activities in the future, and who would apologize for their elders for acting such a horrible fashion in the first place.
For most of us, the discipline Grandma dished out, is looked back on with a smile, because we all knew how much she loved us. People who have never had any discipline simply don’t understand that discipline is a form of love. Does it hurt…yes, because it is tough love, but are you better for it…oh yeah, because they love you very much. If your parents or grandparents didn’t care about you, they would have no need to want you to behave. They just wouldn’t care, but since they do, they want you to know how to act in public, because then people are happy to have you around. And for any of you, who have ever been around an out of control kid, can you honestly tell me that you did not wish their parents would just give them a spanking? Of course you did. So to my grandma, to her broom, and to our parents, aunts, uncles, and teachers…I say thank you. Whether we felt the broom on our backside, or some other form of discipline, I can say that we all turned out pretty good. And people don’t seem to mind having us around.
As we travel to Newport, Washington to attend my Uncle Jim’s funeral, we had the opportunity to get together with my cousins, George and Greg. We all had such a great time. We laughed about old times, especially times with our grandparents. Greg told us about the time he told Grandma that he had outgrown her ability to swat him, Elmer, and Forest with the broom. Of course, Grandma proved just how wrong he was, by promptly chasing him down and swatting him again. Grandma was 5 feet tall…in her tall days…so in all of Greg’s 6 feet plus, I’m sure he was quite shocked at her ability to handle him in his all grown up and tough teen aged years. We all had the opportunity to find out just how feisty our grandmother was, because like any kid, we all got into a certain amount of mischief and back talked with the best of them. I have never forgotten my own run ins with Grandma, and often look back and smile about them. Of course, it’s easy to smile about those days now that I’m not getting that spanking.
George told us about the time that Grandpa took him deer hunting, and his disappointment that it was not the all day trip he had hoped. George was surprised that Grandpa knew exactly where to find the deer, and unfortunately, that place was not in the mountains, which is where George loves to be, and Grandpa simply didn’t. In the end, they went to the plains and had their deer before noon. I’m sure George had pictured an all day adventure, hiking through the trees on a quest for the perfect buck. When it ended up being a simple matter of point and shoot, and the drive took longer than the actual hunting part of the trip, his boyhood dreams of adventure and the thrill of the hunt, were dashed. I could picture this little boy, with a picture in his head of being almost on safari, and then the disappointment of the whole thing being very boring and simple, and I felt sad for that little boy who was now my grown up cousin, because I could tell that the adventure had been very important to him at that time in his life, and Grandpa just didn’t realize it, and for his part, I believe George found himself in awe of the fact that Grandpa knew exactly what he was doing…even though in George’s mind, he was old and couldn’t possibly know what was going on in these modern days.
Our visit ended far too soon for all of us and I found myself wishing that we lived closer together so we could re-live those old memories more often. I love my cousins, and I don’t like the way we have all drifted apart. Time changes so many things, and in many ways it makes me sad that so much time has past. Once again, I find myself thankful for Facebook and the ability we now have to stay in touch over the miles. It has brought several branches of my family closer together.