Family is so very special to me and moving away from the majority of my family who still live in Chattanooga would have been hard to do if I were farther away than three hours and 40 minutes.
In almost every conversation I have had with my kids, I repeat to them that it is only ‘three hours and 40 minutes’ away, so that they don’t think coming to see me is a grueling long trip they could only make once a year. How many other things do we spend ‘three hours and 40 minutes’ on?
My son Nathan let me know that I could stop saying that and, if they took longer to drive to Kentucky, it would not make them dread coming each time. My twins wanted to take their time, be able to stop with my grandchildren and let them enjoy the trip instead of making ‘good time’ which is something my father always insisted on doing.
My son Jonathan (older by one minute) is a single father of two of my grandchildren, Landon and Kylee. His twin brother Nathan is involved with the kids and they do things together quite often. This would be the first time Landon and Kylee (who are six and seven) would take a fairly lengthy trip… but it was only ‘three hours and 40 minutes’.
The gang needed to leave Chattanooga after Jonathan got off work Friday, so they didn’t expect to make it to the farm until after ten o’clock. Jason brought home Mugsy’s Pizza for the two of us as I waited on pins and needles for my children to arrive. Mugsy’s Hideout in Murray is a favorite of Jason’s and now it is also mine. Jason will get an Italian dog at lunch sometimes, but I love that we have made a tradition for him to bring home a pizza from the Chicago-born owner’s establishment every Friday night.
I waited by the living room window watching out for the white car to drive up. Finally – there it was! I went out to greet my children and grandchildren and everyone one was excited. The little ones were ‘too’ excited! Landon had a paper airplane and ran up the stairs to fly it off. He and Kylee took turns running up and down the stairs and both of the twins were ‘shushing’ them.
The last time my grandkids came to “Gramama’s house” I was in an apartment in Lookout Valley and we had to be quiet. I said to the twins, “We don’t have anyone above or below us – it’s OKAY!” Jonathan said, “Well, they are being so loud, the neighbors might hear.” And I asked, “What neighbors?” The closest neighbor to the farm is about a half mile away. The kids settled in the guest room with their father and Nathan made a cot in the hockey room (a room that holds all of Jason’s hockey paraphernalia and a closet full of Jerseys). I didn’t think I would ever get to sleep – I wanted to start our visit right away.
On Saturday morning, I wanted the twins to join in on the nostalgia of eating breakfast at Rudy’s Kitchen – a place where my Mama and Daddy used to eat and it is still the same. The staff is so very friendly and the food is wonderful! Jonathan agreed and said that we need to make it a tradition ‘to always come here’ when they visit.
Wherever we went over the weekend, Jason and I had the grandkids in the back of the truck listening to their excited chatter the whole way. Nathan thought it would be fun for the kids to use walkie-talkies between our cars. Landon controlled the one for our truck and Jonathan used the one in Nathan’s car.
After a Rudy’s breakfast, we walked around in downtown Murray where they had the Farmer’s Market. Kylee went up to a booth of home-made jewelry and saw a pink ring. She looked up at her new Granddaddy and asked, “Do you have your wallet?” Jonathan patted her on the head saying, “Kylee don’t be rude…” but Jason was already reaching in his wallet. He delighted in buying his new granddaughter a little ring. We walked around town and through a few stores and Landon saw a gold medal that Granddaddy ended up getting him and then we headed back to the farm.
Landon wanted to play basketball, but seeing how he was a little short to reach the goal, I suggested another game as I noticed our driveway had sections of four squares under the basketball goal. We played “Four Square” for nearly two hours and the grandkids were getting good at it.
And, like a scene from the Brady Bunch, the ball hit Kylee in the nose. A basketball is much harder than a Four Square ball. Kylee cried a little, but I think it hurt her feelings the most and she didn’t want to play anymore. I left the game too and took her to the barn telling her all about our plans for horses in hopes of getting her mind off of her injured feelings.
Kylee is a true girly-girl and she didn’t care much about the barn. She had an idea to ‘fix the boys some iced tea because they must be hot’. We went inside and poured tea for everyone. When we rescued the sweaty boys, they grabbed their drinks and we sat in the shaded outdoor kitchen while a breeze and the sweet iced tea cooled us off.
Back in the truck and car again, we headed for a place called Maggie’s Jungle Golf. They offered miniature golf, but also had a “jungle run” of animals to see. We walked the mile path and saw Peacock’s (which Landon chased) and roosters (which Landon chased) and then we got to the goats, the ostrich, the emu, the camel, the llama and the ponies. There was one pony that looked like a zebra but it wasn’t black and white. Jason said it must be a “zonkey”. The camel was my favorite – just because he had the best personality. I could almost hear his animated voice in my head as he approached us.
As we were coming to the end there were more peacocks. A few were in trees and then there was one who decided to put on a show. He walked with his long royal cloak and then began to puff it up. His spray of feathers opened and it was as if he were saying, “Tah-dah!” And then, POW! The finale. He was in full bloom and strutting God’s work of art for us all to see. Then he turned and showed his tail from the back, which I thought was just as amazing.
Trying to give the grandkids a full day, Jason suggested we ride the bumper boats. Jonathan and I opted out and just watched as Kylee got in a pink boat and right away learned how to spray water at Granddaddy. As the four moved around the water spraying and bumping each other, it was time for them to come in. Everyone drove their boat craft to the side… everyone but Kylee. She knew how to shoot water, but could not maneuver the boat where she wanted it to go.
The attendant tried to talk her into coming to ‘shore’ and I wondered why they didn’t have some sort of a pole to fetch them with. It took about five minutes (the length of the boat ride itself) to get Kylee back to the side. We applauded when she finally made it back.
Jason had a ball with that and decided that we were ALL going to get in the bumper cars and he went to get tickets for everyone without asking me if I wanted to do it. He was not taking no for an answer. I haven’t been in a bumper car since I was Kylee’s age and I remembered the horrifying experience too well. Those old electric cars in cages sparked and that was scary enough, but when people (who I didn’t know) bumped into me, it jerked my neck and I hated it. I told Jason, “I am not doing it!” He said, “Aw come on honey, you will be good at it – you were good at bumping my truck when you first drove it!”
You realize this meant war.
As we got to the bumper car track, I was pleased to see that the old metal cage and cars of yester-year were gone and now today hover–type cars are used. Jason thought he was being sly when I heard him ask the attendant which of the cars were the fastest. He must have been thinking of the old ones too because after the attendant lied to him and told him ‘the blue one’ the attendant then looked at me and confided, “They are all the same, but I wanted to make him happy.”
It was funny to see Jason’s competitive face as he climbed in the average blue car he nearly raced to get to. I chose the only car left. It had joy sticks like a tractor. I had no idea how I picked it up so quickly unless my guardian angel was driving, but I knew how to drive it right into the corner where Jason was and I kept bumping him. He was doing his best to get out of the corner and here I would come again ramming my car into his. Writing this story in my head, I started giggling as I heard Patrick Swayze from Dirty Dancing say, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” But, I did. I put my baby in the corner and would not let him out.
Just as I felt Jason was beginning to get irritated and our time was running out, I backed off and he started to maneuver the car out of the corner. My guardian angel must have left me alone with the devil on my shoulder because I just had to ram him back in the corner. My poor husband never had a chance.
We were all exhausted by the time we got back to the farm and the grandkids got their baths for church the next day and then we went outside to catch frogs and lightning bugs, hoping they wouldn’t get dirty again.
Landon, Jon and I were the only ones who held the frogs and, when it was dark enough, the lightning bugs came out. The twins made a comment that Kentucky has more lightning bugs than they had ever seen and I felt they were right. That was a Kentucky childhood memory for me because there were so many and easy to catch. I loved sharing this with my grandchildren.
On Sunday, we dressed for church and took a few family photos with the self-timer on my camera. We did a serious one and then did a couple of silly ones. I begged Nathan to pull up his pant leg to show his socks because his socks matched his tie. We teased Nathan the whole weekend because everything he wears is color-coordinated. Nathan dresses preppy and I love it, but we still give him a hard time.
We met Jason’s mom at church and I introduced the kids and the grandkids to Peggy. Right away she said, “They look just like Bill.” It is so weird how my twins look like their dad over me – yet they also look a lot like my dad. A pretty girl said my name and introduced herself as my cousin. Natalie is the daughter of my cousin Mary Janice and I had never met her or her sister Celena. It was good to meet her as she was visiting her in-laws.
After church we dined at Jasmine’s Thai Restaurant where the chopsticks became ‘drum sticks’ for the grandkids. After eating, Peggy went home and Jason and I drove to the cemetery with the twins following.
When we got out, I explained to the grandkids that my daddy “Papa Jeff” was in heaven and not in the ground, but that maybe God would let him hear me and I said, “Daddy, this is my grandson Landon and this is my granddaughter (choke) Kylee.” I didn’t think I would cry but I had a lump in my throat and tears. Jason came right to my side. It was a good visit though and, after showing the kids my old house and my grandfather’s house, we headed to the farm for a cookout and to roast marshmallows.
On Monday, before they headed out the door, Landon and Kylee gave us ‘thank-you drawings’ to “Gramama and Granddaddy” and it made our weekend very special.
Jason was so good to my family and made them his family (and I could tell that the kids and grandkids loved him too). The goodbye would have been much harder if I hadn’t planned on coming to Chattanooga this weekend, but as they left ol’ Granddaddy and Gramama were ready for a day of rest!
Grandkids come to Kentucky