Archive for the ‘Gram’s Family’ Category

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Go-to Gram

August 1, 2009

During their first year of marriage, when Gram and Grandpa were finishing their junior and starting their senior year at Asbury College, Grandpa was responsible for three churches every weekend. Saturday and Sunday would involve trips to each of these churches in turn to deliver the weekly sermon. Fortunately, Grandpa was able to preach the same sermon at each location, and suffice it to say, by the time he reached the third church the congregation received a real humdinger of a message. He practically had it memorized by that point.

However, as any public speaker knows, there are days when no matter how well you have practiced or how dear the material is to you, it simply does not flow. Grandpa experienced one such Sunday while preaching at church number two. He had conveyed the first point of his sermon nicely and was preparing to proceed to the second point, when he realized that he had no idea what that point was. He flipped through his Bible momentarily, then rummaged in his sermon notes, but that second sermon idea had completely slipped from him.

He then turned to the best source available, the one who accompanied him to every church, every visitation, every service. From the pulpit, he called out, “Virginia! What was my second point?”

From her seat in the congregation, Gram proudly shouted out to him the idea that had escaped him. Her attentiveness allowed him to recover and continue with his message. After all, the sermon must go on.

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Fireworks and Action Figure Martyrs

July 3, 2009
Now I call this patriotic

Now I call this patriotic

July 4th is always a fun time for our family, because it falls right in the midst of forty-eleven family birthdays, which means we are all in a celebratory mood already. Since our home state allows small-scale fireworks, Mom always buys one of those big Wal-Mart fireworks sets. I recall getting scared out of my wits on a couple of occasions when Dad managed to sneak up and pop some of those little snaps right at my feet. Snaps are definitely the most fun Dad has on Independence Day.

You may be surprised to read that the most important and memorable tradition for our family on July 4th is actually not the fireworks. As exciting as the green smoke bombs and unpredictable fountains of sparks truly are, they do not come close to the thrill of watching Ben set up and destroy a random action figure each year. He started out with G.I. Joes that he didn’t need any longer, but as the years progressed, he moved on to bigger and better targets. My personal favorite was the year of the Incredible Hulk destruction. If my memory is correct, we had to use a shovel to remove the green mess from our driveway.

Significant planning and concentration goes into each action figure kill. Ben selects the necessary fireworks early in the evening but waits until all of the other fireworks are gone before preparing his annual masterpiece. There is often some sort of harness involved to keep the action figure steady while sparkling rockets and sprays of fire melt him away. Ben is also the director of the most intricate step of the process, which consists of lighting all of the separate wicks simultaneously. Our store of lighters gets maxed out as three to four family members assume stations and begin lighting at the count of three.

Inevitably, however, one person’s fuse is quicker to light than anyone else’s, and the moment something catches a light and begins to burn, we all desert our posts and scatter faster than roaches at the switch of a light. In reality, this setback is a benefit, because it draws out the process and allows us to take stock of the damage after each blast.

Reader, if you are beginning to suspect that we are savages with rather sadistic tendencies, please give us the benefit of the doubt. I promise we are harmless. Mom, Shannon and I can’t even watch the torture scene in The Princess Bride, which means that somehow we are able to compartmentalize this tradition and keep it from influencing any other part of our lives or time of year.

At the risk of turning this post into a glorified photo album, I will post some photos from one of our more memorable Independence Day Debacles Celebrations. I really cannot help myself. Enjoy!

Action Figure Setup

Its going to be a bad day for this green beret.

It's going to be a bad day for this green beret.

The bike is in for it just as much as the army guy. Notice the thoughtful placement of all of the fireworks.

The bike is in for it just as much as the army guy. Notice the thoughtful placement of all of the fireworks.

Bombs away! We really hoped this guy would fly up high, then land conveniently close by so that we could see the effects of his firy trip.

Bombs away! We really hoped this guy would fly up high, then land conveniently close by so that we could see the effects of his firy trip.

I am reasonably certain that there could not be any more fireworks attached to this guy.

I am reasonably certain that there could not be any more fireworks attached to this guy.

The duct tape you see in this photo stretched all the way up to the rim of our basketball goal. This gives new meaning to the phrase, My brain is fried.

The duct tape you see in this photo stretched all the way up to the rim of our basketball goal. This gives new meaning to the phrase, "My brain is fried."

The Carnage

Getting it from all sides

Getting it from all sides

Motorcycle man is toast.

Motorcycle man is toast.

Another angle, for your viewing pleasure.

Another angle, for your viewing pleasure.

The Shower.

The Shower.

The combustion has turned the soldier a lovely shade of gray...

The combustion has turned the soldier a lovely shade of gray...

A Family of Patriots

If there were an award for Most Patriotic Family Member, Uncle Mike would get it. He brought his own CD player this year with a CD of patriotic favorites.
If there were an award for Most Patriotic Family Member, Uncle Mike would get it. He brought his own CD player this year with a compilation of patriotic favorites.

Need proof, you say?

Note: If you have trouble viewing this video, try following this link directly to YouTube.

Mike and Tom, taking a brief break from discussing politics and religion.

Mike and Tom, taking a brief break from discussing politics and religion.

Aaron and Mike, both with some of their best facial expressions

Aaron and Mike, both with some of their best facial expressions. I know I never leave home without my copy of Cornerstones of American Democracy, which I believe contains reprints of some of our nation's foundational documents.

Pat, Colleen, and Tenille - I have no idea what was funny here, but I love to see my family laughing.

Pat, Colleen, and Tenille - I have no idea what was funny here, but I love to see my family laughing.

Misha will probably never experience another American holiday quite like this one. Love you, Mish!

Misha will probably never experience another American holiday quite like this one. Love you, Mish!

Gram may be experiencing some disbelief at her grandchildrens antics.

Gram may be experiencing some disbelief at her grandchildren's antics.

Thug life...

Thug life...

Happy Independence Day!

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$2000 Telephone

May 20, 2009

There is not a more conscientious bill-payer than Gram. As soon as those bills hit the mailbox, she is on it. No one can accuse Gram of being lax in her payments; in fact, I think such an accusation would be incredibly offensive to her.

Her attentiveness to bills could even be considered a bit extreme. After all, she has lived alone and taken care of herself for over 30 years now, so she had full responsibility for the gas, water, and electric bills. When Gram decided to move in to Mom and Dad’s house, her prompt bill payments came under a little more scrutiny than she had experienced before. Some of the time, she may have objected to this change, but there is one instance in which we are all uniformly grateful that Mom took action.

One day, as Gram sat at her table writing checks, Mom noticed an odd bill sitting on the table. It was an invoice from AT&T for $17.00. This would not have provoked much suspicion, had there not been a second AT&T bill on the table, waiting to be paid as well. Without a cell phone, Gram should only be getting one phone bill each month. When Mom asked Gram what it was for, Gram said she wasn’t sure – but she was not about to default on a bill! Looking more closely at the invoice, Mom noticed that it was for some sort of phone rental agreement.

Flexing her investigative muscles, Mom picked up a phone and called up the number displayed on the bill. After pressing a succession of 1’s and 0’s to reach a customer service representative, Mom finally reached someone who could explain this bill anomaly. What she heard is the kind of news that makes you cover your mouth and attempt quick multiplications in your head.

Apparently, Gram purchased the type of phone you see displayed here around the same time she and Grandpa bought their house, which was decades ago. It was chocolate brown and mounted to the wall in her kitchen. I remember this phone having a very distinctive ring, as if each time someone called, the phone underwent a major struggle just to belt out its tone.

At the time of purchase, it was customary for households to rent their phones from the phone company. They paid a monthly phone rental fee for the use of the phone. When companies switched to charging for service rather than for the telephone itself, they failed to inform Gram. Therefore, at least ten years, Gram had been paying $17.00 per month to rent the phone she was using from the company. Altogether, that trusty brown phone which was mounted to her kitchen wall ended up costing somewhere in the $2,000.00 range.

The phone company said that the only way to get out of this contract was for Gram to mail the phone to an AT&T headquarters or warehouse somewhere. Once they received it, the bills stopped.

If someone had asked me a long time ago what I thought a $2,000 phone would look like, I probably would have imagined a diamond-encrusted phone:

Or perhaps the original Agent Smart shoe phone:

But by the time we returned Gram’s luxurious phone, the off-white receiver did not even match the pasty brown body of the phone. It might have brought $0.25 at a yard sale.

So the next time you hear someone complain about the charges on their cell phone bills, you just think of my wonderful, sweet, unsuspecting grandma and be glad that you are at least paying for a legitimate service.

Love you, Gram!

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Rice Krispies & Razor Blades

February 26, 2009

Our family generally kept Halloween low key, as in, Mom would put me in the bathtub early on October 31st and then ask while she scrubbed, “Sarah Chelle, do you want to be a ballerina, a nurse, or a dog this year?” Those were the costumes we had, and therefore those are the only choices I remember having. By the time the hand-me-downs reached Ben, there were slim pickings.

Creepy McCreeperson

Creepy McCreepers

Mom and Dad were always a little wary of celebrating this holiday at all, what with the Druids and goblins and Halloween mythologies that required much overlooking. One particular year really cinched it, though. We ended up trick-or-treating a house that I am sure would have given the creeps to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

To make the situation more ironic, Shannon and I were both dressed as pilgrims. No one ever said that we kids fit in during those years… Adam went trick-or-treating with us that year too; he was a clown, complete with wig, white and red face paint, suspenders, and lots of jokes to tell. I’m having trouble remembering Ben’s costume… Was he a ninja?

We visited Gram’s house, of course, and she was ready with lots of candy. Since she lived on a quiet little dead end street, we figured there would be no harm in just making a circle around it and calling it a night. At the end of the street lived some serious die-hard (get it?) Halloween supporters. In order to catalog all that they had going for them, I will need a bulleted list:

  • Intricate costumes – these people didn’t just slap on wigs and carry brooms. Their witch costumes included fake warts, green face pain, grossly long fingernails, and black, billowing witch dresses.
  • Ghosts – there were ghosts sticking up out of the ground as well as ghosts hanging in the trees. Ghosts of all shapes and sizes.
  • Music – eerie music played from a tape recorder that they had extended from the house and placed in the middle of the yard.
  • Photography – Yes, they took photos of us. They told us we were adorable – how did they know we were so susceptible to flattery? I’m not sure they knew Shannon and I were pilgrims, and judging from the enormous, black, traditional pilgrim gowns we were wearing, I’m not sure I blame them. Then they asked to take photos with us, and we naively stood there while they put their hands on our shoulders and posed. Weirder than weird.

The one benefit to come from this visit, or so Adam thought, was that instead of cheapo candies for their guests, the Halloween junkies had gone all out and made us genuine rice krispies treats. After the photo-taking, Mom whisked us away as fast as she could and piled us into the van to go home.

And tonight we have a decadent rice krispies treat, garnished with a razor blade. Enjoy.

And tonight we have a decadent rice krispies treat, garnished with razor blades. Enjoy.

As the reality of the experience sank in, she issued an order – no eating the rice krispies treats. At that point, Adam had the treat in his hand and was poised to chomp down, so of course he objected and asked why. Mom’s response could not have been more effective at meeting her objective. She told us that the treats could very well have razor blades in them. (!!)

Mission: Keep the kids from ingesting possibly poisonous, dangerous treats.

Status: Accomplished.

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New Year’s Eve Communion Gone Awry

December 30, 2008

Now that I have returned from the double whammy of finals week (had to deal with finals at my job and in my own educational pursuits), I am thrilled to be posting again. Please accept my sincerest apologies for the lapse in blogging. You may feel free to catch up now on all that sleep you lost while wondering what had happened to me.

Since I missed my opportunity to share some wonderful Christmas stories with you, such as the year we decided to do Christmas the “old-fashioned way”, or the time that Ben nearly lost a foot in his hurry to get to presents, I will skip on to New Year’s. One memory stands out far beyond the rest.

This particular year, we accepted an invitation from Mike and Becky to spend New Year’s with them at Shiloh, Aunt Colleen’s cabin on the lake. In addition to watching movies and playing Settlers of Cataan, some of us thought it would be spiritual of us to attend New Year’s Eve Communion at the nearest church – Piney Grove Baptist Church, or as we like to call it, Tiny Piney. Only the girls had the gumption to go, so Becky, Mom, Shannon and I piled into the van and headed down the road, agreeing that Grandpa would be very proud of us.

We piled into a pew and doubled the communion population. Soon, a small, bespectacled man with orange-brown hair and a black robe on took the center of the stage. He had one of the faintest voices I have ever heard. His New Year’s Eve monologue struck me as being particularly stale and boring. I recall his saying something about how we should resolve during the new year to be “better human beings.” I had been planning to try amphibian life for a while, but he convinced me to stick to improving as a member of the homo sapiens species for at least one more year.

Communion followed his not so stirring message. The little man gathered the bowl of wafers and a wine chalice and invited us to kneel at the front of the church to receive the elements. So we knelt – Mom, Shannon, me, then Becky. The minister served Mom first, for which I was grateful – communion can be served many different ways, and I appreciated having a couple of examples before my turn came. The procedure seemed to be to take a wafer from the bowl, dip it down into the juice, then ingest the elements and enter a state of prayer.

When my turn came, I dipped the wafer into the glass and noticed that there was something amuck with the juice but wasn’t quite sure what it was. Next it was Becky’s turn, and let me just say – of any of us girls at communion that night, Becky would have had the greatest aversion to dipping her wafer into a glass contaminated with everyone else’s wafers and fingers. I was therefore not surprised to see her very gingerly dip the wafer about a quarter of the way into the glass, then pull it out to make sure she had reached the juice. Nope – the first try was a negative, resulting in a juiceless wafer. So, not one to do communion wrong, Becky dipped her wafer a second time, a little deeper. She pulled it out and let out a nearly audible sigh – still no juice! A third time, Becky inserted the wafer so deep that she could feel the juice on her fingers, then pulled it out…

There must have been a real rush on grape juice at the Wal Mart that night, because the pastor of Tiny Piney had opted for white grape juice for this communion service. Becky’s communion wafer was nearly soggy at this point, but she took it like a trooper. The rest of us had great difficulty maintaining the meditative atmosphere, as the temptation to burst out laughing was a constant throughout the rest of the service. I do think that Grandpa would have been proud of our efforts, despite the way we trashed the Tiny Piney method of communion all the way home.

Communion Cocktail

Communion Cocktail

In preparation for a fresh year, keep in mind that each new day presents opportunities to make wonderful, lasting memories. And if you attend a New Year’s Eve communion service, do me a favor and let me know how it goes.

Happy New Year!

Editor’s note: It has been brought to my attention by more than one reliable source that I got the location completely wrong. I have to say, I am glad I got to tell you about Tiny Piney, even if it wasn’t the right place. We were actually somewhere in Myrtle Beach, FL. Many apologies for not getting my facts straight.

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A Preacher’s Proverbs

December 3, 2008

Grandpa Lloyd was a preacher, through and through. He had started off in life as a business man, but when he felt God’s call on him to preach, he left that field and went straight to Asbury College where he studied to be a minister. Coincidentally, that is where he met the love of his life, whom we call Gram. They served as class chaplains together, which must be code for falling in love, because there has never been anyone else for either of them ever since.

Hughes Auditorium, Asbury College

Hughes Auditorium, Asbury College

Most of us grandkids did not get to know Grandpa that well, because he passed away from a heart attack in 1981. However, since all his daughters and Gram quote him frequently, we feel as if we really do know him after all.

Below is an incomplete list of some of Grandpa’s frequent sayings and proverbs. If anyone can think of more of Grandpa’s sayings which I am leaving out, please post a comment here or send an e-mail to memoriesblogger at gmail dot com, and I will add those to the list. A big shout out goes to Mom and Gram who helped me compile this list so far.

A Preacher’s Proverbs

Two can live as cheaply as one, if one of them doesn’t eat.

I don’t care how high you jump or how loud you yell, as long as you walk straight when you hit the ground.

If you don’t want to go to hell, don’t smell like you’ve already been there.

Keep smiling by praying. (that was typed on all his communications – personal and church both)

Blessings on you! (his typical good bye)

Ain’t got no use for the do-das (ladies). (not sure why he always said that, except he had a house full of women and he thought it was funny.)

If you can’t be true to one or two, you’re much better off with three.

Cast your bread on the water and it will come back with butter and jelly on it.

If you walk in the light as He’s in the light, you’ll come out all right.

Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.