Today would have been my grandfather Stocky’s 90th birthday. I keep thinking about all the valuable things I learned from him, and some of the things I’m still trying to learn.
1. I learned what it means to be loved unconditionally.
2. I learned that I only ever needed one spanking.
3. I learned that by not speaking to him for several days, I only ever got one spanking from him.
4. Milkshakes are okay at 10 p.m. as long as they are bought by Stocky.
5. Old lawn mowers make awesome go carts.
6. Little girls can make step stools too.
7. Tree house grand openings are all the sweeter when a fried shrimp dinner is served in them.
8. I often think my kids have strong Chisolm genes (they do), but when we perused photos of Stocky and his brother Lightning, I’ll be darned if it wasn’t like looking at a picture of Joe and Chet.
9. Pound cake is best made on the kitchen floor.
10. So are dinner rolls.
11. Both are completely acceptable breakfast foods.
12. When your grandfather pulls out a hundred dollar bill on vacation, you will be impressed.
13. Sometimes, it’s good not to have a plan on vacation.
14. Sometimes, you stay in a dive because you don’t have a plan on vacation.
15. You should always leave on vacation at midnight so you can get through the Texas panhandle in the dark.
16. Easter dresses are even more beautiful when Stocky buys them for you.
17. The Gingham Dog and Calico Cat is not a sweet poem.
18. Foot rubs can cure a little kids migraine.
19. Sometimes, the nicknames you are given define you. Take for instance “Stocky.” That wasn’t his given name. But it was who he was. I was pretty old when I realized neither of my grandparents names were their “real” ones.
20. Sometimes, the nicknames you give define how someone sees you. Bell. For my whole life, I heard, “hello, Bell!” I can still hear it. I miss it. I probably always will.
21. We should do things not because it is what is expected of us, but because it’s what is right for us.
22. Gimme caps are cool.
23. Fur fedoras with ear flaps are cool.
24. Strawn, Texas is kinda neat.
25. Value education. Even if you don’t have a degree from a college or university, never stop having a thirst for knowledge.
26. When I was about seven, I learned my grandfather could seriously jump rope. Like, he was really, really good at it.
27. Boxing might not be the best sport when you are five foot something or another, but it makes you a badass.
28. Leather helmets while playing football were crazy.
29. Sometimes staying married means that neither of you wants the kids. 😉
30. Marriage is work.
31. You don’t have to raise your voice to get your point across.
32. Value your family.
33. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.
34. Sometimes, silence doesn’t mean you don’t have anything nice to say other than it’s nice to be quiet with you.
35. Humming and whistling at 5:00 in the morning really do make you happier.
36. When you visit someone for a week, it’s really awesome when you cook supper for them and clean their house.
37. It’s special when you travel 250 miles to watch your grandkids track meet or basketball game or one act play.
38. You should always hold hands with your spouse.
39. Sometimes, your grandparents house becomes home.
40. History can be interesting.
41. Life ain’t fair.
42. Anything that ugly ought to hurt.
43. If you don’t know you’re short, you aren’t.
44. I am tiny but tough.
45. Butterfly kisses stop snoring.
46. Sometimes you are punished when you shouldn’t be and sometimes you aren’t punished when you should be.
47. It’s never okay to use the “N word”
48. Sometimes, men are the better cooks and that’s great!
49. Pancakes are a great breakfast.
50. Pancakes are an even better supper.
51. Sandwiches made on homemade dinner rolls taste better.
52. Little cans of orange juice and little bottles of sprite make vacation fun.
53. Listen more, talk less.
54. Wicked senses of humor are where it’s at!
55. Take care of what’s inside your car, you never know when Stocky’s going to take it for an oil change.
56. Love someone when they are at their most unlovable.
57. Take care of your spouse when they need you.
58. Eating a meal together is of utmost importance.
59. I will endure a John Wayne movie because he liked them.
60. Watching Golden Girls with your grandparents will make you want to watch it forever.
61. The Cosby Show is still funny when you can’t remember who is sitting next to you.
62. Dominos is not a game to be taken lightly.
63. 5 card draw will not be won unless you win it legitimately.
64. Solitaire is not boring.
65. Wind suits are cute on old men.
66. So are shorts with black socks and sandals.
67. It’s great when men help with housework.
68. I might have to trim my husband’s toenails when he gets old.
69. Grandkids are special.
70. Great-grandkids are even more special.
71. Your spouses family IS your family.
72. Mount Rushmore isn’t that impressive at 12.
73. I want to visit Washington D.C.
74. My grandfather was one of the smartest men I’d ever known.
75. God loves you and believes in you.
76. An old man loosing his memory will still walk down a steep hill to watch his great-grandsons fish.
77. Great-grandsons will make you nervous.
78. Love the life you have.
79. Getting old means you can be a little eccentric.
80. I want to rust out not wear out.
These last few are hard for me…
81. Alzheimer’s and dementia are unfair.
82. Moments of clarity are a blessing and a curse.
83. I will always look for Brian…even when he’s right here.
84. I want to maintain my dignity until my dying day.
84. I want to remember my loved ones until my dying day.
85. I want to look back on my life and be proud of the choices I made.
86. I want my kids to be with me when I leave this world.
87. I want my husband to love me the way my Stocky loved my Teda.
88. My life was better because I had Stocky in it.
89. This world would be a better place if everyone had a Stocky in their life.
And a bonus:
90. My most cherished memory of his final year…I went to visit him at the “home” before taking my children for what I knew would be their final goodbyes. I knew I had to grasp this before I took the children to visit him. He was unresponsive and sleeping. I stayed for a bit with Teda. He never acknowledge either of us. He wouldn’t take his medicine or even a drink. He wouldn’t open his eyes. Later when I went to pick up Teda with the boys, we sat and visited and talked to him. When the boys went to give them his hugs and kisses, goodbyes and I love yous…he turned his head, opened his eyes and smiled.