Friday, June 3, 2011

Father's Day Month of June- Blog 1: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie Belly,

So the other amazing father that I wanted to tell you about is your Poppy.  You can say Poppy so clearly and he loves to hear it over Skype.  Sometimes, we call him Crazy Ed too.  It's hard for me to find the right words to describe your grandfather because I've never met anyone quite like him.  So I'll try to do justice of describing a man I completely admire and love by making a list of his very quirky and endearing personality: 

1.  He has biggest heart of anyone I know (he buys you anything you touch at Babies-R-Us)
He bought you your first rocking horse on his last visit...
2.  He is obsessed with Disney (he turns into the biggest kid there, he literally runs for the Magic Kingdom!)
3.  He is extremely protective of his family (your Poppy came with me on my first date, it was awful!)
4.  He is a problem-solver (call him anytime day or night with a problem and he will figure out a solution)
5.  He is very sentimental (Kyle is always close to his heart)
6.  He is a perfectionist (I always have my car detailed before he comes to visit so as not to hear him complain...)
7.  He is a little bit anal (He never sets his watch backward when he comes to Denver, he leaves it on "real time" and tends to follow meal and sleeping times of the east coast)
8.  Name brands do matter to him (which is good for you because he only buys the best and usually the most expensive!)
9.  He really likes to shop (whenever he comes out, suggest a mall outing and he will be thrilled!)
10.  He is super shy (which many people mistake for snobbery)
11.  He can tell a funny story better than anyone and make you pee your pants laughing so hard
12.  He is extremely cynical and political (unless you want an earful or a million forwards in your email inbox, don't ask him about the government)
13.  He is still working on technology (he is the only person I know with a dial-up connection and an IPhone at the same time)
14.  He can be cool (he started a monogrammed trend with you Ellie and it all began with this hat he had made before you were born.  We gave it to the nurses in the delivery room for you to wear as soon as you arrived and you wore it for quite some time!)
You (in that trendy monogrammed hat) and Pop-pop on the day you were born.
15.  He is a city boy that moved to the country (and still fights with the wildlife... yes, I had to bring friends over and explain why we had rat traps going up our front steps... my Dad thought he was onto something new on how to get rid of chipmunks eating his flowers).   Mimi, please tell Ellie the skunk story and Dad's ongoing war with the gophers!

My Dad is the epitome of juxtaposition if I ever saw one.  But Ellie, he would give you his right arm if you needed it, which he would do for anyone he loves.  When Kyle was sick, it just about killed him that he couldn't fix it, or find someone who could not matter how much money would be involved.  My Dad would whisper into Kyle's ears during those 11 days to get better and if he did, he would take him to Disney World.  To give Kyle a glimpse of Disney, my Dad brought a giant (well giant compared to Kyle's 4 pound body) stuffed animal of Mickey Mouse.  I'm sure if Kyle did live to see Disney World, he would have been so scared of that mouse!  

In the end, because your Poppy was so sad over Kyle's death and saw how upset your Daddy and I were, he set up the scholarship in your brother's name to have his memory live on.  Kyle also is literally with your Poppy everyday too (he got Kyle's picture tattooed on his arm).     

Besides Kyle, he loves you more than anyone.  Family is my Dad's life.  Every day, you and I call him on the way to daycare and we Skype with him when we get home.  You, Ellie, bring out a side of him that I never saw.  My Dad worked very hard when I was little, often working many hours in overtime.  So to watch him sing to you, read to you, and play on the floor with you when he visits (and he is a big guy) makes my heart melt.
This chair was another Babies-R-Us purchase from your Poppy... we had to make two trips home that day to get all of the toys he bought you back to the house!
For my Dad's birthday, we celebrated when he came to visit in December.  Like I've said before, in our family the birthday person gets to choose the restaurant of their choice to spend the evening.  My Dad enjoys good food and he picked a fancy steakhouse, Shanahan's, to go to.  You were only 9 months old and I offered to get you a babysitter but he wouldn't have it (he said his birthday was meant to be with the people he cares most about).  You came with us, and although he walked you around to keep you busy while we waited for the food to come, you were a good girl and your Poppy was so happy that you spent the evening with him on his special night.   

I will save Disney World for a later blog but just know that I never saw your Poppy so excited than having him show you the Magic Kingdom.  It was him and your Mimi that took you on Winnie the Pooh and the Teacups.  

Take advantage of the fact that your Poppy is a kid at heart.  That's why we go to the zoo, the aquarium, and the park when he comes out to play with you.

Never underestimate how much he loves you.  You have taken up a huge chunk of his heart.

Like I keep saying, you are one loved child girlfriend!

Love you Ellie Girl!
And now from your Mimi…

Good Morning Ellie!

I love to start my blog to you on Sunday mornings as I am an early riser, and with my teacup in hand, the peacefulness of the outdoors brings to me fresh ideas!  As I stepped outside this morning to retrieve the paper, the warmth of the day has already seeped into the air I am breathing.  With a slow inhale and exhale I could smell the freshness of the colorful green bushes still moist from the layer of dewdrops blanketing them.  I could feel the oncoming humidity slowly edging its way into the day.  I could also see a chipper blue jay dancing from branch to branch on the neighboring evergreen tree.  I could tell this was a perfect mix for a daydreaming opportunity but my first thought settled on the temperature.  It was rising quickly (the time is not yet 7:00 am) and as the minutes passed while I stood looking out over the land, I had a split second thought that maybe I should switch my teacup of steaming tea to a tall glass of freshly brewed ice-tea!  NOT!  Better to go back into the house where Poppy keeps it cool enough that I will be retrieving a sweater soon, which surely will compliment the socks I wear with my sandals so frostbite doesn't take over my toes!

So this month our topic theme is Father's Day and Then Some!  Well Ellie, here is its definition:

Father's Day: Father’s Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in June.  This day is a day for children to honor their fathers.  Father's Day began in Spokane Washington by Sonora Dodd who thought of the idea while listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909.  Since her father raised her solely, she wanted him to know how special he was to her. She chose to hold the First Father's Day on June 19th, 1910 (her father's birth month.)  In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the 3rd Sunday in June as Father's Day and President Nixon established it as a permanent national observance day in 1972.  It is a day to express the love and gratitude you have for your father.  It is also said that red is worn for a living father and white is worn for a deceased father.  

Now the definition for Then Some:  Being of the unknown followed next after.   Hmmmmmmm.  Interesting group of words, don't you think Ellie?  Let's see what surprises this interesting jumble of words brings to us in this beautiful month of bustling activity!  After all, June is the month when summer officially begins.  June is the month where schools across the nation close and children toss aside textbooks opting for swimming pools, barbeques and outdoor activities!  June is tank-tops, shorts, flip-flops and sunscreen! So let's get started by honoring our dad's! 

So Ellie, there are two dads that I would like to honor this first week of June.  One being my own father and the other being Poppy's dad.

My dad was a good man Ellie, both kind and gentle.  And he was a great judge of character.  I remember he always said that you could tell an honest man by his handshake.  Since he passed away 12 years ago from lung cancer, my description and story of him shall be from years gone by.  I will start at his beginning.  Your great Grandpa Jones was born and raised in Green Bay Wisconsin.  Along with his parents there were two younger siblings, Uncle Don and Aunt Snuffy.  
When he graduated from high school he joined the navy for 4 years.  I believe I already told you that that is when he met your Great Gram Jones.  They married and after his service time, they settled back in his hometown of Green Bay to raise a family.  He worked full-time as a lineman at the city's utility company and also dabbled in part-time electrical jobs with his dearest friend.  My dad was of the mindset that his job was first priority to make sure that there was always food on our table, clothes on our backs and bills paid on time.  He pretty much left the disciplining to your Great Gram Jones, but when her discipline tactics fell upon our six deaf ears, she would then play the "Just Wait Till Your Father Gets Home" card!  I don't know why that scared the daylights out of us Ellie, as nothing could be worse than how that darned wooden spoon she owned magically appeared in her right hand before you blinked, but it did!  Looking back now, I don't recall my dad even raising his voice at us kids.  What I do remember though is how much he loved to take us to the lake-house of his best friend Kenny for weekend get-a-ways. Because our families were so close, they happened often. Karen, Kenny's oldest daughter, was my best friend and through the years we spent much of our waking hours in and on the water.  Since we loved to water-ski, many times my dad would haul us around the lake in their boat while we showed off our expert skiing!  Your Great-Grandpa also loved the holidays.  When we 3 children were young, Santa Claus always decorated our tree on Christmas Eve.  When your Aunt Sheri and I became teenagers (your Uncle Stevie was still a few years behind) my parents decided that we three children would relieve Santa and take over his duties of decorating our tree, so that he may add another family to his list.  So on Christmas Eve my dad would string the lights throughout the tree, then take a seat in his recliner and direct your Aunt Sheri, Uncle Stevie and I to where we should carefully place the Christmas ornaments.  (That part was fun.)   Then your Great Grandma would hand us a packet of tinsel to place on each branch and I remember your Great Grandpa saying over and over again, "One tinsel at a time kids!"  Ellie, do you know how long that takes?  Ugh!  How about forever!  (Doing it his way did not gel well with my short attention span.)  I thought I would die of old age before Santa had the opportunity to deliver our presents under the tree, so every once in awhile I would throw a fistful of that silvery stuff on a branch hoping he wouldn't catch me! Sometimes it worked, most times it didn't!  I also remember how he loved to grill on the Weber, and also bake and cook on the weekends.  Once in awhile the deep-fat fryer would come out on a Saturday morning.  That meant your Great Grandfather was going to make homemade donuts for us and Ellie were they ever delicious, both the donut holes and the donut rings, as he would leave some plain and powder-sugar the rest!  We could devour them as fast as he made them!  I think he always had a shot of brandy and a bottle of beer while sifting through this great breakfast undertaking, hmmmmm... I wonder if that was a staple ingredient handwritten in the margin of his recipe card!  Fried Chicken was another of his incredible tasting and favorite dishes to make.  Since the prep work involved a few hours... your Great Grandfather enjoyed a drink or two or three while preparing this great dinner.  Let's just say that he was a happy cook with his Brandy Manhattan at his side but didn't always join us for the actual feast when it was ready to be served as he was as the saying goes "Three Sheets to the Wind" or in simpler terms, drunk!  I always thought he was a happy "drinker", but my siblings might beg to differ.  I honestly thought this way of life was normal Ellie, it wasn't until I was much older that I realized it wasn't.  At the age of 19 I moved away from home and relocated to Philadelphia. 
This is your Pop-Pop Bud and Gram Bubbles on Mimi's wedding day Ellie. 

It was difficult leaving my parents, sister and brother, as we were a close-knit family, but my dad and mom always found a way to surprise me with unexpected visits!  When your mommy and Uncle Ryan were born your Great Grandpa loved them very much.  His eyes would light up when they were near.  He wasn't much for holding them in his arms Ellie... his enjoyment came from sitting close by and watching them play.  And he could do this for hours on end and be quite content.  He seemed to have nicknames for all the children, whether it be "curtain climber", "rugrat", or "ankle biter", everyone got a name.  I remember he used to call your Uncle Ryan "Ryrick" all the time and when your Uncle Ryan was old enough to answer, he would do so by calling your Great Grandpa, "Budrick!"  As the years went on your Great Grandfather's drinking became a serious health issue.  He was kind of like a cat with 9 lives using his up though way too quickly!  After one incident, his closest brush with death, we the family banned together and set up an intervention.  Ellie, from that day on your Great Grandfather was alcohol free and a somewhat changed man.  He was still gentle and kind but seemed to smile more and really appreciate his family, his friends and the love that surrounded him.  Since he was always fascinated with gadgets and technology your Poppy and I gave him our computer since we were planning on upgrading models. Ellie it was the best gift ever.  I particularly loved it, as it was a quick way for him and I to communicate.  The long distance between us didn't seem so long any more.  E-mails were frequent just to say all was well and he loved forwarding me new recipes that he was always experimenting with in the kitchen.  I so enjoyed this connection with him.  Then came that dreadful April day when I received a phone call that my father had terminal cancer and most likely no more than three months to live.  Ellie, as sad as I was, I took that time to write him a letter.  I wanted him to take my thoughts to heaven with him.  I wanted him to know how much I loved him, how grateful I was that he was my dad, how I admired him and his courage, what a wonderful grandfather he was and that he always knew how to make me smile.  Oh, I forgot to tell you Ellie that he had another nickname for me too.  He called me "Smiley" throughout my childhood when he wasn't calling me "Mickey Mouse”!  I am not sure why he dubbed me with that name... maybe it was because I kind of walked through life a bit clueless at times, always smiling though, hoping that no one would catch on, but they did Ellie, and then I would get teased for it.  But back to your Great Grandfather… God came and took him home 3 days shy of his 70th birthday, July 9th 1999.   But before he peacefully passed away, God blessed me with the chance to make it home to Green Bay in time to say goodbye to him.  He awoke briefly, long enough for me to tell him I loved him, to kiss him and smile for him one last time.  My father was a great man Ellie, a good man, and I believe he fulfilled his purpose while here.

Another "Dad" that I would like to honor Ellie is your Great Pop-pop Russell.  He is Poppy's dad.  Let me begin here with his story. Your Great Pop-pop Russell was born and raised in Philadelphia.  He was the second youngest of seven children.  He and your Great Gram Russell grew up in the same neighborhood.  They knew each other since they were both 7 years old, and eventually became high school sweethearts.  Your Great Pop-pop Russell joined the Marines and eventually married your Great Gram in 1955. They had two beautiful children, your Poppy and your Great Aunt Joanne.  Great Pop-pop Russell was of the same mindset as my father.... he worked hard to provide for his family working at Abbott's Laboratory with continual side jobs.  Within a few years he joined the Philadelphia Fire Department and worked as a firefighter for 28 years while also taking on plumbing work with his brother, your Great-great Uncle Jack, on the side.  I asked Poppy which of his parents was the stronger disciplinarian and with a slight hesitation he let your Great Gram off the hook and said it was his father.  Your Great Pop-pop Russell may have had a stern voice, but he also was fiercely protective of those he loved.  When your Poppy and I married we were blessed with the opportunity to buy a row house on the same street as your Great Pop-pop and Great Gram Russell.  We were only 10 houses away and whenever we needed them, they were there.  When your mommy and Uncle Ryan were born Ellie, I believe that they were truly your Great Pop-pop Russell's greatest joy.  He was and still is a wonderful and loving grandfather.  I remember your mommy could do no wrong in his eyes!  Where his own children were barely allowed to sit on their plastic covered couch, your mommy could jump on it, do somersaults on it and stand on it with her shoes on to look in the big mirror that hung on the wall behind it!  Sometimes your Great Gram invited us to dinner on a night your Great Pop-pop would have to work the night shift.   Before he left for work your mommy would always ask him to play with her.  So while dressed in his uniform he would sit down on the living-room floor and let your mommy put curlers in his hair and blue eye shadow on his eyes! Then he would have to go back upstairs and wash it all off before he left for work!  With your Uncle Ryan I remember your Great Pop-pop coming down to our house everyday to take him for a walk around the block, and not in a stroller Ellie but in his arms.  He also loved getting down on the floor to play with whatever toy or figurine your Uncle Ryan handed him.  I think he was your Uncle Ryan's favorite playmate! When your uncle was old enough to walk down to their house by himself to see if your Great Pop-pop was home, he tried to by-pass your Great Gram Russell by peeking through the mail slot, which was located in the middle of their front screen-door.  If Poppy's dad was home, he would be sitting on the couch where your uncle could spy him... if not, your Uncle Ryan would just high-tail it home never letting Great Gram know he was there!  Poppy's dad also helped Poppy coach your mommy's little league team and he never missed your Uncle Ryan's baseball and football games.  Now you, Ellie, bring him great joy by the pictures your mommy posts on facebook and e-mail.  He also loves to skype with you. Your Great Pop-pop Russell is truly devoted to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and loves you all very much.
And here is your Pop Russell loving you!

So next week Kimberly we should continue our Father's Day tribute.  Justin should be the priority.  And I would love to share with Ellie some of Poppy's crazy rodent stories too.... "City boy gone rural!"   
Ellie, I shall now leave you with this thought on grandfathers, fathers and their children.  It comes from Proverbs 17:6. - Children's children are the crown of old men: and the glory of children are their fathers. -   Learn from your father, respect your father and love your father.  Great admiration is an honor.  

Till next week Sunshine.
Love Mimi

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