Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “Dad”

Gramma’s Favorite

There was a time in my life when I could do no wrong.  Actually, I could do wrong many times, but not in the eyes of my Gramma.  She told me that I was the best boy in the world.  Often.

My sister was, coincidentally, the best girl in the world.  Each of my cousins was either the best girl or best boy in the world.  When my cousin Bob got married, his new wife became the luckiest girl in the world.  I have over the years reminded Lynn that she holds that title.  Bob reminds her too.

It might seem to you that Gramma was inconsistent by having more than one grandchild be the best in the world.  But to her, who was without guile, she meant it every time.  She believed it.  We all could simultaneously be the best.  She often was scared by how awesome we were.  She would say, “________ (fill in the blank with the name of ANY of her amazing grandchildren) is so smart it scares me.”

Our respective parents did not always share in Gramma’s opinions.  My own mother recklessly endangered my self esteem by pointing out my failings, such as when I broke Gramma’s garage window.  Return with me now to the thrilling days of yesteryear.  I was around four or five years old at the time.  I was not yet in school.

Gramma scolded Mom for being a tattletale.  “Betty, he did not mean to break it.  He is such a good boy.”  (You will recall that I was the best boy in the world or at least tied with Cousin Bob).

Mom persisted, “He did it on purpose.  I saw him hit the window with his gun.”  Our house was next door to Gramma’s house, which put Mom in an excellent position to spy on The King of the Cowboys.

I had indeed done it on purpose, for a good and noble purpose.  My friends and I were playing cowboys, as usual, and I had seen Roy Rogers or the Lone Ranger or one of those good guys use the butt of his pistol to break a window to get into the outlaws’ hideout.  It is, clearly, the accepted procedure when capturing outlaws.  The next step would have been to crawl through the window, despite the shards of glass, and get the drop on those badmen.  Mom was obstructing justice by interrupting what I was doing to keep the world safe.

Mom did not understand, but Gramma did.  “He was just playing.  What an imagination.”  Gramma automatically turned what I did into a compliment to me.  She admired my imagination.

I was remorseful after Mom pointed out that now Gramma, not the outlaws, had a broken window.  In my imagination, as Gramma recognized, it was not Gramma’s window but merely a window in the outlaw hideout.  Gramma knew that.  She did not view herself as the victim of vandalism.  I was still the best boy in the world and I had the best imagination in the world.  Gramma saw the situation so clearly for what it was.  It was her sacred privilege to have the best boy in the world break that window due to a superior imagination.  She was the most fortunate of grandmothers.  I believe that she actually felt sorry for all the less fortunate grandmothers whose dull grandsons lacked the imagination to break their garage windows in pursuit of justice.

“I’m sorry, Gramma,” I told her with all sincerity.  I might have even cried.  This was not going right.  The Lone Ranger’s mother never interfered like this.

Mom wanted immediate measures taken.  “We are going to call your father at work and tell him what you did.”  She was not one to wait until Dad came home for the news to be delivered.

Mom lifted me up and sat me on the kitchen counter so I could reach the phone.  She dialed, then handed the phone to me.  I asked the receptionist if my Dad was in.  He was.

“Dad, I’m in big trouble.”  I got right to the point.  No sense asking him about his day.

I had to explain about breaking Gramma’s window with the butt of my gun in order to climb in.

Dad told me, the best boy in the world, that what I did was wrong and that I needed to tell Gramma I was sorry (which I already had done) and then he came up with some penance for punishment.  Dad said that we would fix Gramma’s window when he got home.  I needed to fix it, but he would show me how.

So Dad and I fixed Gramma’s garage window.  It was the right thing to do.  After all, Superman and I both stood for “Truth, Justice, and The American Way.”  So did Dad.

Gramma was happy.  She told me I was the best boy in the world.

I miss Gramma.

I miss Dad too.  He was one of the good guys like Superman, Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger.  I miss them all.

I wish that I had gotten Gramma one of those tee shirts that one frequently sees.  You know, “World’s Best Gramma” tee shirts.  She deserved it.

In Remembrance

Today is my father’s birthday.  He was born in 1924.  In a previous post, Something for Dad, I mentioned that he epitomized The Greatest Generation that Tom Brokaw wrote about.  I also proudly quoted the therapist who told me, “They don’t make guys like that anymore.”  They don’t.

Dad was born at home, in a house by the park in Craig, Nebraska, the youngest of four.  He had one brother and two sisters.  In his family, he was called Johnny.  Craig was a very small town, maybe 300 people.  Johnny’s graduating class was very small, less than 20 as I recall.  He graduated at age 16 because they did not have kindergarten.

He went to college for one year, then worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for a few months until he was old enough to join the Army in WWII.  In 1945, at age 21, he had served in England when it was being bombed, then France after D Day, and Belgium for Battle of the Bulge.  After Germany surrendered that year, he was in California on his way to the Pacific theatre when Japan surrendered, so he got to go home instead.

He went to college at Omaha University on the G.I. Bill.  He graduated in 2  years.  He went to school more than full-time, worked part-time, and even fit in varsity tennis and lettered.  He met my mother at O.U. and they married in March 1948, before he turned 24. 

The yearbook in 1948 included the goals of each senior.  Most wrote about career plans.  Johnny wrote something about being a good husband and father.  He fulfilled both.  Actually, he exceeded his goals.  He was great, not just good.  He was the best.

His first job out of college he stuck with for 35 years.  He worked at a bank, starting as a teller and rising to V.P. and Trust Officer.

He was married to my mother for the rest of his life, from 1948 until 2003.  They got to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Without describing the many events during those many years, I ask you to use your imagination.  What you imagine about a devoted family man is likely true of my Dad.

It was a privilege to be his son.  

Happy Birthday, Dad!  I love you — always!

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