Having my daughter, Amy Royce live so far away, is something that will take a lot of getting used to. I am used to seeing her every day, and now that is not possible. I’m sure that I can count on one hand the number of times I have missed being with her on her birthday in her 39 years. In fact, I if I had to guess, it would be maybe two times. Even then, I saw her within a day or so of her birthday. We have always been a close family, and so this degree of distance between us seems very foreign to me.
Of course, my dear Amy, you have been on my mind a great degree lately, and when I think of you, I find my mind flooded with visions of you at every stage of your life. You were my teeny little girl who always felt the need to defend yourself from the other little kids who thought you were a baby doll to be played with. Wow, did they have a shock when they tried to pick you up. You could make it very clear with your ability to scream at the top of your lungs, that carrying you around, would not be tolerated. When you where still very small, with your small amount of blond hair, and your great big eyes, we called you Tweety Bird, because you reminded us so much of the bird in the cartoon. And you were Strawberry Shortcake, because at that time, the currently back in the popular zone toy, first came out, and the term fit you so very well. Of course to your dad, you will always be Squirt. You were such a sweet little girl, and yet you had a stubborn streak that came out when you didn’t get your way or you felt like someone didn’t give you the proper degree of respect in any given situation. Then your little face would set in anger and determination to win, and pretty much everyone knew to give you some space. You had a funny way of pronouncing some of your words, and somehow, my little Wyoming Girl, sounded just like a Texan…which we always found pretty funny, unless you were trying to explain that you had “dirt” in your eye by saying the you had “dot” in your eye. Boy you could sure get irritated whenever you were misunderstood.
As you grew up, at least in every way but in height, you learned to have a sense of humor about things, especially when it came to reaching things in high places. I remember the time you bought a t-shirt at school that was marked in such a way as to explain to a blond, the proper way to get dressed, because of the blond jokes that have persisted over the years. I found myself shocked, because as a blond, who was almost always not a blond in the intellectual sense of the word, you had decided to embrace that joke. You used to get so angry about being called a blond, so I couldn’t believe that you would buy such a shirt. I guess that you decided that if you couldn’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em. Because of your small stature, no one could ever really believe your age either. Upon receiving your first traffic ticket, the officer first questioned not if you had you license, but rather if you were old enough to have one at all. And I often wondered if you would need a booster chair to see over the steering wheel in your first car, a Camaro, because back when they were a pretty big car. In fact, I went so far as to give you one that I came across, only to find that you did not agree with my logic concerning this matter. Go figure!!
While you have always seemed younger than your years in looks and size, you have proven yourself to be a wise and very talented girl when it comes to most things in your life. You are a very capable insurance agent, and one that I have been not only proud and happy to work with, but upon your move, an agent that I have been proud to send to your new agency, because they have received a great asset to their company. Your ability to learn the nuances of insurance is amazing. Sadly, our loss is their gain, and we miss you every day…especially your mom. Today in Amy’s birthday. Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!! And ET, don’t forget to call home often. We really need that.
There is a country music song by Brad Paisley, called “He Didn’t Have To Be” about a step-dad who was more of a dad than a real dad ever was. After talking with my cousin, JeanAnn, I am convinced that those words describe my cousin Elmer, JeanAnn’s uncle very well too. JeanAnn was a little girl with a need, and Elmer became the dad to JeanAnn, that he didn’t have to be…he chose to be. JeanAnn tells me that Elmer raised her, like she was his own daughter, stepping in to fill a void that desperately needed filling, and not only helped a little girl who needed it, but filled her heart with so much joy and pride, that when she speaks of him, it all comes flowing out like a beautiful waterfall.
When JeanAnn was a very little girl, Elmer bought her a Tweety Bird that said “Hello Buddy!” He and JeanAnn always used to say that to each other, but JeanAnn was to little to say it right, so it came out “Hello Bud!” The name stuck, and Elmer became forever Uncle Bud, and I have a feeling he didn’t mind that, because his very special little niece gave that name to him. Rewards just don’t come sweeter than that!
Some of her fondest memories happened in the month of July. She tells me that she can’t remember one year, except the few that she didn’t live in Casper, that she didn’t spend July 4th with her uncle. Back when you could set off fireworks on your own, they shot off fireworks in Glenrock, along with the occasional hillside fire, of course. Sometimes, they watched the fireworks displays from Elmer’s shop, where she got to play with the various gadgets he had made or bought. Later, when he got a boat, they often spent July 4th at the lake, watching the displays, boating and playing in the water. JeanAnn never had to worry about missing out on the festivities, because she had an uncle who was so good to her, even though he didn’t have to be. When the fair rolled around, JeanAnn always got to go. At the fair, she and her Uncle Bud would ride all the rides. One year he had hurt his back, so JeanAnn was worried that he might not be able to go, but he still took her, and rode the rides with her. She was a teenager by then, and his giving nature meant so much to her. Elmer was always there when she needed him.
Now JeanAnn is grown, with children of her own, who need a man in their lives too. Uncle Bud stepped right in, without ever being asked, and did the same things for Mykenzie and Ethan. He took Kenzie to her first father/daughter dance, and was there for Ethan’s first play. He spent 2 hours last Christmas putting a Lego toy together for Ethan. He has done so many things for JeanAnn, Kenzie, and Ethan, that there simply isn’t enough room here. Just suffice it to say that when other men wouldn’t do for their children, Uncle Bud came to the rescue for at least 3 of them, and became the surrogate dad…he didn’t have to be.