Caution this one is a little long, I apologize
Shortly after Rylie’s fourth birthday she asked Lori if she could play in the front yard. It was late afternoon and they lived on a main neighborhood thoroughfare so Lori asked Cale if he would go out with her. Rylie said “Hello! I’m four I can take care of myself!” she had trouble with her Ls and Rs so it was really Hew’woo I’m fouw.
Rylie has probably always been the most independent or self reliant of my grandkids. She grew up following her brothers to the ballpark. Those of you who have spent time at the ball fields know that kids learn about baseball inside the fences but they learn more about life and make lasting friendships behind the concession stand or under the bleachers; Ry didn’t spend much time inside the fences (I think she played one year) she learned about life. Surprisingly, she still enjoys and appreciates the game on her terms and schedule of course.
She played Soccer for a couple years. She didn’t take it as serious as Sharyl thought she should. She was pretty good when she wanted to be; usually for two or three five minute stretches during a match. Sharyl would pay her for goals and other hustle plays to encourage her to go hard all the time; it didn’t work. After a rare occasion when we couldn’t attend her match, Sharyl called to see how it went she said “Maw Maw I played like a woman on a mission today.” That statement probably cost Maw Maw five bucks. If you don’t know what a “woman on a mission” looks like please see the picture.
When she gave up Soccer for good she told her mom she just didn’t like the cleats she was more of a flip-flop kind of girl.
As Ry got older she became more dedicated and focused. By the time she was in high school she was mature beyond her years, very responsible and was active in the right school activities and her church, on her terms of course. She is almost 18 and will leave in a few days with her church youth group on a mission trip to Haiti. I guess once again she will be “a woman on a mission”. Am I worried about the trip? Not at all what she said fourteen years ago still stands. She can take care of herself.
Lori is concerned that with her big heart and can do attitude she may figure a way to bring a couple Haitians home with her.
One Friday when Braxton was a toddler I picked him up at daycare to go to Tecumseh with me. I don’t remember his age but he was at the stage where he spoke in words or broken sentences. Dava put a small sucker in his bag to help make the trip more comfortable for both of us. I gave it to him then I got in the front. He couldn’t get the wrapper off; I volunteered to help. I removed the wrapper and handed him the sucker; he said, “Was sucker good?” My response “I don’t know” Brax: “Sucker ticky” Me: “some suckers are just sticky” Brax: “others in package not ticky” Me: it probably got wet in your bag, Brax: “clothes not wet”. He was convinced I had licked his sucker and he was going to force me to admit it. I said, “Do you understand condensation?” he said no, I said that is how it got wet. He probably still thinks I licked his sucker and I still have no clue as to how it got wet.
As he has gotten older he has continued to be analytical and quiet. The sucker discussion may be the longest continuous conversation we have had.
Braxton participates in a variety of activities; his favorite sports are football snow skiing and water sports especially riding a wake board. The two things that occupy most of his time right now are Boy Scouts and music. He is also involved with his church youth group and he recently disassembled and repaired his laptop computer successfully and unassisted.
He plays guitar in a rock band; I have seen them perform several times and yes I know grandparents are always a little prejudice but they are pretty good. Braxton doesn’t show any emotion on stage he just stands there and does what he thinks a guitar picker is supposed to do; he picks the guitar. The first time I saw him play I told him he reminded me of Luther Perkins, I don’t think he knows that is the highest compliment I could pay him. Luther played lead guitar for my man Johnny Cash until his death in 1968; in my opinion without him, Johnny’s career would have been limited to a Thursday gig at the “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon”. Luther showed absolutely no emotion he just stood there and picked the guitar.
Brax just returned from Boy Scout camp and is preparing to go with his church youth group on a mission trip to Chicago. That should help take my mind off some of the troubling things in my life; one grandkid in Haiti and one in Chicago.
I’m driving through a Wally World parking lot; Luke is strapped firmly in his car seat. The sound coming from the back is: Ford, Honda, Dodge, I not know, Nissan, Chevy, Jeep I not know, Pontiac and it continues with very few I not knows; I checked to see if I had any duct tape. He has always had a keen interest in cars; he knew about V8s, V6s and 4 cylinders and why there was no V in front of the 4 before most kids knew cars had this thing called an engine.
He has always been very curious and reads a lot to gain knowledge; Conner always had an enormous thirst for knowledge and read a lot. The difference is Conner primarily focused on sports, human rights, and social issues and the history of those subjects; Luke has been more of a subject of the week or month kind of guy. He moved from Geography (states & capitals) to alligators to hurricanes and is still moving. I think he passed his first grade teacher with his knowledge of hurricanes and had questions she couldn’t answer. She brought him a book.
He tried team sports; he wasn’t the best player but he certainly wasn’t the worst; he just didn’t like to play and gave it up, I was happy with the decision, too many kids continue to play because everyone else does. He loves to snow ski and enjoys water sports. His MawMaw was very disappointed because she didn’t get to ski with Rylie, Braxton or Luke.
Like his brother he is a musician; he plays the keyboard, unlike his brother he has no desire to perform in public. I think and hope that will change when he gets a little older. He also shows some signs of being able to sing.
He is making his first solo jaunt; he is spending the week with a friend in Houston. I don’t think I’m ready for Maw Maw’s baby boy to venture out alone.
Cale and Conner were almost three; Lori was about 7 months pregnant. They returned home from somewhere and Lori let Cale have the key to unlock the house; I think the guys took turns. He opened the door, stepped inside and quickly locked it. He had the key, Lori tried to talk him through the unlock process but the door was more difficult to unlock than it was to lock. He soon became bored with the door. He turned on the TV and curled up on the sofa to watch the latest episode of Barney. Life was good until Lori, all 5”1” and 7 months pregnant of her scaled a 6’ stockade fence and entered the house through an unlocked patio door. He was exposed to one of life’s lessons “Things sometimes get real bad real quick”.
Cale’s early wings testing days are behind him. He has “been around the block” a couple times to use an old cliché. He is a baseball player, a left-handed pitcher to be more specific. I know about the grandparent bias thing but he really is pretty good; he has played two years of college ball and plans to play a few more years. To succeed on the mound takes a combination of the right physical tools and mindset; I like the term “pitcher’s mentality”.
Life on the mound is a little like life in general. You don’t bring your “A” game every day, some days whatever you throw they manage to hit it hard, and some days they can’t get a bat on anything; most days are somewhere in between. On those days you keep the same expression if it’s a strike out or a hard hit double in the gap and get ready for the next guy. When the game is over you shower, celebrate a little or gripe a little and get ready to do it again.
Life hit Cale pretty hard the last year or so. He applied the “pitcher’s mentality” he didn’t change expression and just got ready to face the next obstacle. I am confident that the strike outs or groundballs to the infield will return soon and I am just as confident that you won’t see much expression change, maybe a little smile and a little celebration at the end of the day and get ready for tomorrow.
I spent some time with him last weekend; he seems to be doing well and is enjoying his time with the Liberal Bee Jays. I think he and I share an appreciation for the west Kansas people and lifestyle.
Sharyl was a die-hard baseball fan, and I think God may have taken Conner from us so she can sit and visit with someone she loves during Cale’s games.
I can picture the two of them, Sharyl knows the center fielder is from Lawton, Oklahoma and that one of his high school coaches is the son of a rodeo clown that I worked with many years ago. Conner knows the kid has good speed is a switch hitter and probably knows his batting averages from both sides of the plate.
Cale is having a good day, it is the bottom of the 9th the Bee Jays are one run ahead two outs the count is 2 balls 2 strikes. The batter drives Cale’s fastball over the fleet footed centerfielders head for a standup double; Conner looks at his MawMaw and says, “He should have thrown a changeup. The count goes to 2-2 on the next guy the batter is way out in front on the next pitch, he strikes out, Bee Jays win; Conner and Sharyl look at each other smile and say almost in unison “got him with a changeup”.
I love you guys and miss you every day.
My prayer tonight is for Cale, Luke, Braxton and Rylie to have the opportunity to enjoy senior citizen discounts for many years; please join me in that prayer.
Good Night and God Bless.