My Uncle Jack McDaniels was always a great guy…very pleasant and always ready with a joke of some other funny remark. All my life, I enjoyed being around him and my Aunt Bonnie. Uncle Jack went home to Heaven on July 14, 2012, and he has been greatly missed by his family ever since. As I was getting ready to write his birthday story, I wanted to capture his personality in a way that maybe many people did not know him, so I contacted his daughter-in-law, Deena for assistance. I like to think that my inquiry gave Deena and Michael a prime opportunity to remember his dad on his birthday, because what better way to remember a parent than happy memories discussed on their birthday.
If you have ever been a part of a family on the larger side of size, you know that when they all get together, especially when there are little children in the mix, it is not a quiet event. Michael remembered a large family gathering that was quite loud, as you can imagine. Suddenly, everything went still…how that many people would all get quiet at the same time is shocking enough in and of itself. Nevertheless, for a few moments all was quiet before someone finally spoke. Uncle Jack said, in relief, “Thank goodness, I thought I had gone deaf!” I can absolutely see my Uncle Jack saying just that, with a twinkle in his eye, because that is how he was. He always saw the humor in life.
Uncle Jack and Aunt Bonnie’s son, Michael married his wife, Deena in 2006, so Deena got to know Uncle Jack for a little over six years. Deena told me about her first real interaction with Uncle Jack. Michael, having grown up with his dad’s influence, made the joke that he found Deena by the side of the road. So, when Uncle Jack met Deena for the first time, he said “So, you must be the hitchhiker!!!” The nickname stuck, and she is the hitchhiker to this day. It was all part of his teasing nature.
One thing I didn’t know, but wished I did, is that Uncle Jack loved local history. It is something he shared with Michael and Deena. Conversations between the three of them often centered around Casper and Natrona County history. They all collect books on local history too. Uncle Jack would share his collection of books with us, and their love of history grew. Books on local history became popular gifts for birthdays and Christmas, and I’m sure they are extra special treasures, now that Uncle Jack is in Heaven, as are the wonderful conversations they had over the years. Today would have been Uncle Jack’s 81st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Jack. We all love and miss you very much.
There are people out there, who are just always happy. My niece Kellie is like that. Things just don’t get under her skin, like they do for most of us. I guess there just isn’t room for bothersome things with Kellie, because silliness and giggles live there. Don’t get me wrong, Kellie is a hard worker, and she can be serious if the situation warrants it, but she much prefers to be funny. She loves to make people laugh, and what better trait to have than that. Of course, Kellie comes by it honestly. Her whole family is like that. The girls have nicknames for each other, like Jeff for Jessi, and Lance for Lindsay. And their mom, my sister has nicknames for the kids too, like Baby Jessi (which she still is called today) Squirrel (which Lindsay is also still called), the boy (for Ryan, of course), and Pretty, Teeny, Sweet, and Little (which definitely doesn’t fit Kellie now, as the tallest girl). And Kellie also has a nickname from her sister-in-law, Chelsea…Keeker, which I think is quite cute too. And Kellie makes sure she gets in on the nicknames too, because since several of us are on the short side, and she is tall, we have been dubbed the wee ones.
As I have said, Kellie is tall. She is actually 5’11” tall. When she was in high school, and playing basketball, her coach used to say that she was 6 feet tall, as a way of intimidation for the other team. Well, as I said, Kellie likes to laugh, and that always struck her as very funny, so she would be out on the court, playing, and she couldn’t stop laughing. Of course, the coach had a different plan in mind for Kellie. When he said that she was 6 feet tall, he was envisioning a mean looking player that would scare the socks off the other team. Kellie was a good player, but she didn’t have a mean or intimidating bone in her body, so he tried to help make that happen…by yelling out to her, “Kellie! Stop smiling!” Now telling Kellie to stop laughing or smiling, is like telling her to stop breathing. It just wasn’t going to happen.
And Kellie had the same problems in her gym class. She just can’t stop laughing. One time in gym class, the teacher heard the normal bout of laughter, and of course, knew exactly who was doing the laughing. The teacher yelled out, “Kellie! Shut up!” Suddenly, there was silence in the room…pretty unexpected I’m sure. Then, out of the silence, someone said, “Kellie isn’t here today.” Now I don’t know about you, but I would have totally lost it right about then…as I’m quite sure the rest of the class did. I would have loved to see the teacher’s face right then too. Hahahahahaha!! Classic!!! Today is Kellie’s birthday!! And just as soon as I stop laughing, I’m going to tell her happy birthday. Love you Kellie!! Happy birthday, and have a great day!! And…don’t be so serious…smile sometimes!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!