Every little kid needs that person, that someone who makes them feel like the center of the universe. I was lucky enough to have that person in my life since my birth. The one who was always proud of me, always listened to my stories — my grandfather.
Any time my parents dropped me off at my grandparents’ home, I went straight for his lap. I knew it was my safe place. Eventually, I got too big to climb on his lap, but I knew I had a safe place in his heart.
When I was about 7 or 8, I got to go on a day trip with him — just the two of us. He had some business to do in a nearby town. It was a sunny day on the traffic-free back roads as he drove with his knees and read to me. I loved to read, and when I was little and still struggling with those bigger words, it was a special treat to be read to. That he would figure out how to read to me, even when he was busy, meant the world to me.
I also loved games. (Still do.) But my mom was too busy cooking and taking care of the house to play very much, my dad was usually at work, and my brother really only liked games he knew he could win. After I beat my whole family in Memory when I was 5, no one really wanted to play with me any more.
So my grandfather taught me how to play Solitaire. And whenever I was at their house, he’d let me take his yellow, plastic, sailor-pig bank and dump out all the change on the dining room table. I was playing bank, of course. And he’d come to make deposits with funny names like “I. B. Rich” and “U. B. Smart.”
I can’t recall a single important event in my life my grandfather was not a witness to — talent shows, public speaking contests, band concerts, graduations, my wedding.
So I was honored to be there for his special event, a surprise 80th birthday party on Sunday. Yesterday was his official birthday. So here’s a big happy birthday to one of my favorite people in the world — the cowboy turned sailor who eventually became my grandfather and blessed me with his sense of humor.
(Please note: I do actually have eyes. Just not when I’m laughing. And yep, I chopped off my hair. Got tired of it. Donated it to Beautiful Lengths.)