Sunday, November 3, 2013

(Probably Not All) The Things I Wish I'd Said About My Grandma

My Grandma passed away a few days ago and I spoke briefly at a graveside service. Too briefly. Here are some things I remembered after the fact that I should have said about her.

I'd give anything to have a piece of my Grandma's homemade chocolate pie. Other people have made them using her recipe, but they didn't taste as good.

She spoiled her dogs and grandchildren. A lot!

She watched "When a Man Loves a Woman" and "The Shawshank Redemption" every time it was on. No one really knew why.
For a person who only went to school through eighth grade, she could do the crossword puzzle pretty damn fast.

We'd spend the night with Grandma just to get some of her pancakes, which were thin like crepes, although I didn't know back then what a crepe was. And she made her own syrup which she served with a ladle and was roughly the same temperature as molten lava.

She loved to read newspapers. The best gift you could get her if you were traveling was a community paper from wherever you'd been. Although she may not have known the people the stories were written about, she'd read them cover to cover.

At Halloween, Grandma always made her grandkids a little package of candy. If you weren't going to make it by the house, she'd save it until the next time she saw you. This was something she did even after we outgrew trick-or-treating. I'm not quite sure how long she did it, but I got my last one when I was 38, usually when I came to visit for Thanksgiving.

My Grandma only cared about two things: The St. Louis Cardinals and anyone who walked through her door. If you needed someone to talk to, she lent an ear.If you needed a place to stay, there was room.

Although I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have left my Grandpa for them, I'm pretty sure she had full on crushes on Elvis Presley and Ted Simmons.

She was funny, but she never tried to be. She was our family's answer to Yogi Berra. On the tail end of a family gathering, we were talking about how her grandkids were so tall, with the exception of one. My cousin, Kip is several inches shorter than all of us, even his sister. Grandma said, "You know... Kippy would be a lot taller if his legs weren't so short." Yes, Grandma, everyone knows that.

When I was younger, my very favorite thing to do while visiting my Grandma was to scare the hell out of her. Favorite place to hide was the space between the wall and the refrigerator, but I'd use any corner or door to hide behind and jump out at her. Every time, same reaction: "Godblessit, Joel! You wanna give me a heart attack?"

She was scared to death of snakes - all species - from rattlesnakes to garter snakes and hoop snakes (which don't exist but she told me she had nightmares about) to plastic snakes that I bought with my own money when I found out she was scared to death of snakes.

There's nothing more embarrassing than walking from the on-deck circle to the plate and hearing your Grandma say for everyone in the dugout to hear, "Get a hit, Joely!" except getting a hit and her yelling "WAY TO GO, JOELY!!" so loud that even the opposing team could hear it. Joely is a girl's name, after all, something Grandma never quite grasped.

Grandma blamed her forgetfulness on Alzheimer's, which I changed to "old timer's disease" when she first used as it an excuse when she was in her early 40s.

Grandma never lost her Missouri Bootheel drawl, which meant that the way she said things different than most folks. Amongst the grandkids, one of the favorite Grandma expressions was unanimous, and my cousin, Kendirley does a really good impression of it. When she was calling out my Grandpa for something he said or did, she'd say "Oh Lawton, that's just awful." The way she said "awful" was the clincher; not quite three syllables, but definitely not two. "AW-uh-ful."

I'll miss the way she hugged me -  just on the neck, and almost strangling me - when we were getting ready to leave after a visit. I'll miss the way she talked and the way she said my name, which also got elongated into two-and-a-half syllables. I think most of all, I'll my Grandma's laugh and how she'd snort sometimes when she really got tickled.

Those are all the things I wish I'd said about her.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What I know after 12 years of marriage

On our anniversary I wanted to share some facts about my lovely bride and what I know about making a relationship work.

Ashley works harder than anyone I know, even though everyone already thinks she's amazing at her job.

She dances in the grocery store aisles: I give her a dollar to stop. This happens so often that I think it's really what's causing the economy to stall.

Our biggest fight was six years ago over how to load the dishwasher. It was a doozie. And it was the only fight I ever won. So now, I load the dishwasher 100% of the time. #Winner (Update: she loaded the dishwasher this morning while I was dozing and did a damn fine job.)

She's a better parent than I am.

If I could turn back time, I'd propose in some fantastically creative way that required tons of planning, prep time, props and people. Like a flash mob, but you know... cool.

She is WAY more forgiving than I am. WAAAAAAAAYYYYY more forgiving.

A lot of people don't know this, but Ashley and I broke up for a while when we were dating. I call it "being on a break" (a la "Friends"). Ash calls it "the six months I came to my senses."

She doesn't give herself enough credit. Ever.

I would do anything just to make her laugh.

Her taste and mine in music and movies don't really jive because she likes stuff that came out after 1997 and "Twilight."

Ashley makes great meatloaf, the best pumpkin pie and really good-looking babies.

She doesn't realize that she could have done SO much better than me. But don't tell her.

I can't think of a single time that she's ever said "No" when someone asked her for help.

I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. Choosing to be with her was not one of them.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

TSA Lifts Ban on Wiffle Ball Bats

The TSA lifted the ban on Wiffle ball bats, which surprised the hell out of me because I didn't know they ever outlawed them.

Why they would ever think to ban them is beyond me. Maybe all the people thinking about the stuff they could ban were sitting around a table and everyone had to come up with one. Knives, guns, nail files, golf clubs, weed-eaters (yes, weed-eaters) were all taken as everyone went around and said an object they thought could be banned. Steve sat there and watched as all of his suggestions were named by someone else. When it got to him, he panicked and blurted out, "Weed eaters!" and like the teammates on "Family Feud," everyone just said "Good answer!" and clapped to show their support for Steve because he brings donuts every Thursday.

I have no idea why they would ever ban them, but it's only a matter of time before I can take my Slip n' Slide on a plane. Maybe they thought it was a gateway to other lawn games breaking out on an airplane. Today, Wiffle ball bats... tomorrow, LAWN DARTS!

How did Wiffle ball bats make the list of things banned on airplanes by the TSA but crying, screaming two-year-olds were never even considered?

There are many things you can't take into Canada - fresh fruit and vegetables, handguns, mace, stun guns, pet food and firewood (yes, firewood... don't get me started). Wiffle ball bats have never made the list. That should have told the TSA something.

I want to take a bat with me next time I fly just to see how people react. And if someone has the stones to ask me why I'm carrying on a Wiffle ball bat, I'm just going to tell them I've been drafted and am heading off to pursue my boyhood dream of making it to The Show.

If there is a silver lining to this, it is this: Now that they're cleared to fly, I can use my Wiffle ball bat to smuggle more than three ounces of saline solution onto a plane.