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GrandDad’s Buddy

Granddad and Jerry

My First-Born child also has the honored position of being the First Grandchild for my parents, as well as for my Step-Mom. He loves this distinction! However, my Step-Dad already had 2 grandkids by this time but they live in South Carolina so he only saw them a couple of times annually. He had lotsa fun being GrandDad too. My son never got to know his ‘other’ biological grandparents….the grandfather had been killed by a tornado more than a decade before and the grandmother had been extremely ‘broken’ by this same tornado so she wouldn’t have known him anyway. But since both of my parents had remarried and lived in the same small town, which was approximately 40 miles from where my baby boy and I lived, he still had two sets of grandparents and a set of great-grandparents to dote on him! I had to live in a larger town, near Purdue University, for my travel agency job but every Friday after work we drove to either my Mama’s or my Daddy’s house for the weekend and had a grand time! All of my children have/had special relationships with each grandparent/great-grandparent. For nearly the first couple years of his life, my son turned into his GRANDDAD’S BUDDY. Whenever we were at Mama’s ‘little round house out in the woods‘, every time I’d turn around, my Step-Dad had that baby laying on his tummy watching TV or reading to him or even taking naps with him!

My parents divorced when I was in my early twenties. Don’t ever believe the old adage about divorce hurting the children less if the parents wait until those kids are grown-ups. It’s just not true. My world turned totally upside-down even tho I was in college. I ran away, literally, to finish my college studies as far away from my small Hoosier hometown as I could get. My parents informed me of their decision in July and less than a month later I was attending a small Catholic college in Honolulu. That was as far away as I could get and still be on American soil. After college I returned to Indiana but not to the same small hometown. Instead I moved to the larger town 40 miles away where I could obtain work.

As it turned out, I married an Air Force Officer and we had assignments in Texas, Hawaii, and Florida before my husband decided that he didn’t want to be married anymore. So it was back to this small Hoosier hometown that I took my 3 children and our broken hearts so that we could feel the love of family surrounding and comforting us once again. My parents, even tho married to others, cooperated together to pave the way by finding a suitable house for us to rent and basically made the decisions for me at a time when my distraught mind was unable to function. My Daddy and my brother brought a moving truck to Florida and literally picked us up and got us and took us HOME, while Mama was busily getting things ready in Indiana. I do not even recall registering the kids in school and doctors and many other things that needed to be taken care of so I’m sure that my wonderful parents must have had a hand in taking care of a lot of the things that I didn’t even notice but am totally grateful for. It was a good move and a good idea. Sometimes in life a person has to trust in the wisdom of those who have lived life and already made mistakes because they are able to give advice, should anybody care to listen. My parents are a perfect example of this. I may not have always agreed with them but they wanted what ultimately was best for their grandbabies. Of course I’m sure that it was wonderful for them to be able to finally attend the various schooling and scouting and church functions with their grandkids too that they’d been missing out upon because we lived in other states! They certainly did! It worked out fine.

My Daddy and Step-Mom lived out in the country so that was fun for the kiddies. Daddy enjoyed coming into town and taking the 3 of them, or sometimes each one at a time, to do things or to go places. He even took my boys to his own barber and filled in when my daughter needed him for ‘Daddy Date Night‘. My Step-Mom always knows exactly which foods are the favorites of each family member and makes it a point to prepare everybody’s favorite. She’s kinda like ‘the cheerleader‘ of the grandbabies! Mama and my Step-Dad had moved a couple of blocks from the Elementary School so it was fun for the kids to be able to ask if they could walk to Grandma’s after school a few nights each week, where they knew that she’d have home-baked goodies awaiting! Their Great-Grandparents lived across town near the shopping area and we visited with them a few times weekly. It was a very good 4 years that we lived in that area, having all those grandparents nearby gave my kids the love and stability that had been lacking when we’d been moving around the country going from Air Force base to Air Force base!

For some reason, probably just because he’s the oldest, my Step-Dad seemed to like to teach my first-born kid lotsa stuff. Perhaps it was because he missed his own grandkids, which by now he had 4. Or perhaps it was because he reminded him of his own son at that age….they both are stubborn loveable blondes with really big eyes! My Step-Dad was a ‘tinkerer‘, always fixing or improving something, often to my Mama’s frustration. That’s how my son became his GRANDDAD’S BUDDY….my Stepdad and my boy took apart 3 junk mowers and built 1 mower rather than buying a new one. They built a model airplane and worked on other projects that always kept my Step-Dad busy. I think that sometimes he was just looking for an excuse to ‘borrow’ my kid even tho he said that he wanted to teach him something! My Mama and my Step-Dad also invited my son to watch EVERY Chicago Bulls basketball game on TV at their house, complete with carefully planned favorite snacks. My other two kids showed no interest in sports so this was a special memory for my son. He still watches basketball and is a big fan of the Chicago Bulls. He also has turned out to be a ‘tinkerer‘ too, always finding projects to work on! Yep, that’s my boy! I’m sure that my Step-Dad is watching this young man, GRANDDAD’S BUDDY, from heaven with a twinkle in his eye!

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Silly Boy

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My baby boy is coming for a visit in exactly ONE WEEK!! HOORAY!!! This youngest child of mine is the one that has oddest sense of humor and always keeps me laughing. He comes up with hilarious ‘off the cuff’ remarks that somehow seem to flow effortlessly and so quickly that I’m constantly wondering how he thinks up spontaneous retorts immediately. Daily I’m saying to him, “Joey, you’re a SILLY BOY!” He has been doing this for a couple of decades, beginning as the CLASS CLOWN in elementary school. He’s never outgrown it so I reckon that it’s just a part of his personality. He’s well-liked wherever he goes, so maybe that’s the reason.

I’ve not seen my baby boy in nearly 8 months this time. Or to be more ‘family correct’, I reckon I oughta say that my BABBY BOY is visiting. I don’t even remember when or why I started calling him that but the name has stuck. Just for me though. Nobody but his Mama calls him that, but then I suppose that mothers have cutesy names for each of their children (I surely do). Come to think of it, he’s had the most nick-names throughout the years out of the 3 of my kids. I honestly don’t think that there’s been any that he’s disliked. I often call him JoeRicky, which I think is a rather cute combo of his first & middle names that I’ve never heard anywhere else. He started out as JoeJoe as a baby and had that name for several years. I accidentally called him that, I don’t why it slipped outa my mouth, last year one time while we were with plenty of other folks. I was appalled, but he didn’t even flinch! I’ve never ever even heard him say “Mama, don’t call me that in front of my friends.” I certainly CAN remember asking my own mother NOT to do so at her many ‘pet names’ for me! Imagine my dismay when my mother came 4,350 miles from her small Hoosier home to visit me at college in Honolulu and managed to get my entire coed dormitory calling me ‘Jean Bean’! Oh, the horrors! But Joey has always liked his name. When he was young, he enjoyed the fact that his name meant the same as a baby kangaroo. I used to tease him that it was probably the reason that I had to carry him everywhere! That BABBY BOY wouldn’t walk till 3 months later than his brother and sister had. In retrospect, it was probably because I DID carry him so often that he didn’t feel the need to. With his sister less than a year older than him and his brother 2 years older than her, more often than not it was just much easier to grab the young’un and go!

My family and friends have all heard me lament over the fact that it’s really very hard when the youngest child is the first to move far away. Well, it’s true nonetheless. He’s 29 and engaged to a young lady that he’s been dating for several years. But I still miss him tremendously just the same. A thousand miles from Mama is tooooo far indeed! I’m sure he’s looking forward to some of my chicken & noodles; that’s the meal that he always asks for first! We’ll go to some of the theme parks, of course. The beach is a definite MUST; everyone wants to go to the beaches. Joey usually likes to go to a beach on both coasts: the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s one of the positives of living in the middle of a long peninsular state. We’re a bit more than an hour from either coast plus we have passes to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. Naturally we’ll go to DisneyWorld since those are free for us. He and his sister and a friend are wanting to go to Universal Studios annual ‘Halloween Horror Nights‘ but they can definitely leave this old Mama out of that one!

I’m looking forward to taking photos. My other 2 children live here in this area within 5 miles so maybe I’ll get a few great group shots of ‘my little family’. But as for my SILLY BOY, as seen in the photo above….we just never know what kinda mischief he’ll get into when I get ready to take his picture! Another example: last year at Magic Kingdom, an instant before I was to snap his photo in front of Belle’s fireplace, he quickly curled himself up INTO Belle’s fireplace! Aaahhh, JoeJoe my BABBY BOY always likes to keep us guessing….and laughing….and smiling. He IS my SILLY BOY before, still, and probably always!

Getting Pincurls

Getting pincurls like Mommy-age 3

I find that it’s certainly true that we want the opposite of what we have. Myself, well, I have rather crazy hair that has never been stylish nor have I been able to tame it into whatever hairdo seemed to be popular at the current time. Nowadays I’m not particularly concerned with the way my hair looks, but according to the photo above this must have began at approximately age 3. I’d imagine that my Mama was probably placating me at the time and I was probably excited to be GETTING PINCURLS just like Mommy had, but maybe this began several decades of unsuccessfully attempting to make my hair do things that it wasn’t meant to do!

According to early photos, I had very straight hair as a preschooler! Mama was thrilled that I even had some hair because I had quite the lack of it as a baby. She and Daddy had curly hair so it made no sense to either of them that mine was straight. If only she’d have left it alone then I probably would’ve been very happy with long straight hair, as that was the norm in the 60s and 70s. But I blame my Mama for that early perm that she gave me because after that my hair would never go back to being straight again! Luckily it was very thick, so that was the only thing that I DID LIKE about my hair. I could not use a hair dryer because it would frizz terribly; in fact, a dryer hasn’t touched my hair in more than half-a-century! I took great care in cutting off tiny split-ends, as soon as I noticed them, little-by-little in such a way so as to not cut any of the length of my hair. I’ve had short hair, long hair, and shoulder-length hair throughout the years. In the Hoosier summer sunshine, I’d squeeze lemon juice onto my hair before sitting poolside after getting out of the backyard pool. Somebody had mentioned that this would keep away that greenish sheen that the chlorination from the pool’s chemicals would tint my hair. It must’ve worked because my hair didn’t have that ugly color. I remember when I wanted bangs or short ‘sideburns’ and having to wear the pink tape at night. The next morning I’d be happy with the reflection in the mirror from my temporarily-straight bangs….however, my disappointment would return along with my curls by the time I got to school! I just had no luck with straightening my hair. I thought that it was so unfair that I could not have the popular hairstyles! I got into very big trouble one Saturday afternoon when my Daddy came home early and walked in on me and a friend ironing my long hair on the ironing board, with a pillowcase between my hair and the iron. He sent my galpal home and I promptly got a paddling, even though I was already a teenager!

My Mama has always put a lot of effort and emphasis into her hairdo and makeup. Whenever she went out the door of our house, she does so looking beautiful. I was of the generation that didn’t like makeup, and even though I experimented a bit, mostly I only wore makeup for special occasions or when Mama told me that I HAD TO! Anyway, Mama had a LOT of hair….verrryyy thick. She’s mostly kept it short, but has gone to the beautician to have it styled for as long as I can remember. When my brothers and I were young, we used to tease that we couldn’t even put a finger into her hair for fear that it’d get stuck! I am NOT kidding! Mama always knew everything that was happening too….we could never be sneaky and get away with things like we could with our Daddy or grandparents. Mama always told us that it was because that mothers have ‘eyes in the back of their heads‘ that children cannot see, but that we’d better believe that those secret eyes were there, nonetheless. Well, the night before Mama would have her weekly hair appointment, she’d give one of us kids a coin to brush out her hair. It took a long time since it was really thick plus had several layers of hairspray. Besides, she liked the feel of the scratching of the Avon brush upon her scalp. The oldest of my brothers almost always insisted upon doing this, and he performed the task ardently. It wasn’t until we were all grown up that he explained that he’d been looking for those ‘eyes in the back of Mama’s head‘ all those years and he never did find them! Tooooo funny!

When I went away to college in Hawaii, I found that my long wavy strawberry-blonde hair was suddenly very popular, especially with the Pacific Islanders. Of course, I had to forget about the frizz because August in Hawaii is a bit humid and I just got used to it anyway. But I soon found that the Polynesian boys would hurry to sit beside me in classes. After a couple of weeks of feeling like a Midwestern Oddball, my Indonesian and Samoan roomies told me that the guys hadn’t seen red hair before! Several times I’d catch someone touching my hair just to see if they were gonna get burned! I even got mad at a boy from Palau that cut a long strand of my hair without my permission; when I turned around and glared at him, his excuse was that he wanted to send it home to his grandmother because she’d never believe it! I didn’t know whether to laugh or smack his face! In my mind I was having these thoughts of a little voodoo doll of myself in a dark room someplace awaiting these strands of golden hair but I remembered that these were South Pacific Islanders and not Creoles. Instead I told them that they could’ve asked and I’d have given them some strands from my hairbrush. About that time I started wearing my hair in elaborate braids and buns in order to avoid and solve these situations. It didn’t take too many months for the warm Hawaiian sun to bleach the red outa my hair anyway. As my skin darkened into a golden brown, my hair lightened and lost the red. I looked like any beachgoing blonde!

Now I’m in my late 50s and my hair is totally white in the front. The back part is whitening. My hair is partially curly and partially straight. It cannot make up it’s mind. It’s nothing at all like when I was younger. The straight portion is as I had always hoped and envisioned but then there are these unruly curls that pop up here and there all over the place. They’re curlier than ever before. The curly-hair gene must have totally skipped my daughter. I’d always imagined that my daughter would have thick, blonde, curly hair. Well, it’s blonde, Period. Not thick. Not a tiny bit of curl or wave in sight. But she’s as blonde as can be. She got a perm once when she was a little girl and it was a mess to keep up with so we never did that again! She prefers a long ponytail and it suits her. Since my hair doesn’t do anything worthy of a style, I’ve been keeping it kinda short for the last few years. So I don’t think that either one of us will be GETTING PINCURLS anytime soon!! Maybe we’re finally accepting what we have.