December 3 – Thirty years ago last month, our first grandchild was born in Missouri. Unfortunately, since we lived about 900 miles away in Pennsylvania, we didn’t feel we could drive out to see the little guy. Since Dale worked in an office, and I was still teaching, we would have to wait till summer or Christmas vacation, I can’t remember which. Our daughter Biz and husband Harvey couldn’t have been more proud if they had tried! Of course, we spread word all through our relatives and friends.When the pictures began to arrive, we kept them handy in purse or pocket, so we could be sure everyone we knew would be subjected to, “Look at this little guy! He’s only a week old, and look at that big smile! Wait a minute, and I’ll show you more! Isn’t he the cutest and smartest looking little kid you’ve ever seen!” Well, probably not, but our friends or mere acquaintances were trapped, and couldn’t move on till they had seen the three or four first pictures.
As the days went by, Biz, who had always enjoyed photography, sent us more and more pics that she had taken. Some were inside, with a bright lamp to show off Robbie’s smiling face. Some were taken outside under the trees as he lay in the baby buggy (not many modern baby carriers in those days), watching the leaves blowing around in the wind. Later there were some of Harvey holding Robbie and showing him the cows and chickens on the farm. Several shots included the pet dog Pumpkin that Robbie soon learned to love.
Each year after that, we drove our truck those many miles, the truck being packed fuller than full with various items for the house, but mostly stuffed animals, farm toys, building blocks, a gardening tool set, a fire truck with an “Ooooah, Ooooah, noise that pleased Robbie just about forever. Or so it seemed to Biz, who finally removed the battery so it couldn’t make a sound. Bright baby blankets, handmade, gave way to bedspreads of hand embroidered pictures of animals or famous people, as Robbie learned how to help in the big garden, how to shuck corn, and pick berries.But no matter how many years passed by, he was still full of mischief, as bright as a new penny. He so much enjoyed books that we always tried to take new ones when we made the trip at Christmastime or during the summer. His pleasure was so evident, as he paged through those books one at a time, savoring every new bit of information that he found.
Robbie was a shy little boy, but close enough to the action to take in all that was said. His mind was so full of knowledge and interests in so many things that it was hard to believe that he was still far from being eight or ten years old.
I will never forget what he was like as a little boy, but I do remember how comical he was one evening when we first arrived at his home. Clad in their pajamas, Robbie and his little brother Kevin were so excited to see us that they did something I had never seen before. Robbie, of course, was the leader, and Kevin was more than content to follow after his big brother. As we sat on the long couch, Robbie jumped up and continued on walking across the top, then down the other side, back up to the first side, and on and on for so many rounds that I was getting worried that one or the other of the boys might fall off! No, not those two! I couldn’t figure out why neither one was dizzy, because I certainly was!
Sad to say, those days with Robbie as a little one, then as a teenager, and on till his thirtieth birthday, are gone forever. We have seen him do well in school, learning about so many subjects, and accomplishing so much, but always letting someone else be the one who received the accolades.After high school and college graduation, Robbie came back to the family farm, following in the steps of his dad Harvey, and grandpa, Bob. He can do anything that needs to be done: plowing, disking, spreading fertilizer, planting, harvesting, storing grain in the bins, and helping to take it to the co-op.
Yes, he is now a thirty-year-old man, but still a kid at heart. To help him celebrate this special birthday this week, we took him to an “All You Can Eat,” section of a local grocery store. No need to explain to him where he would find his favorites! It was a real joy for Dale and me to be there with Robbie as we helped him celebrate his special day. Just as we were ready to leave, a middle-aged lady put her purse down on the other side of the bench where Dale and I were sitting. As I took a couple pictures of Robbie and Dale, I could tell that some of the other patrons were wondering why I would do that.The lady who sat down next to us actually asked why we were together. “Oh, we’re celebrating our grandson’s 30th birthday,” I told her. “Well, that is so nice!” she answered. “And it’s so nice for you to have a son like that!” After one or two big gulps, I answered, “Well, no. He’s my grandson, not my son! I’m pretty old to be his mother. I’m eighty-eight.”
After pondering that bit of information, she said quite loudly, “Well, you really don’t look that old!” Trying not to chuckle a bit, I thanked her, and left before I just about choked with laughter. Now I can remind Dale from time to time that he really does have a very young wife! Happy birthday, Robbie! – CHRIS