Monday, May 19, 2008

Knee-High by the 4th of July

Why is there a picture of a cornfield on this post and what does it have to do with me, the lil' dude wonders. Well, I'll tell you.
Daddy is from a small, sleepy town of less than 2,500 people. The town is nestled on all sides by cornfields such as the one in the picture. Knee-high by the 4th of July, a measure of a good crop, is what they say about a good field of corn. I know, that was new to me, too. You will hear it one day soon and learn all there is to know about that.

When your daddy and I got married, he picked his song for our slideshow, Small Town, by John Cougar Mellencamp. It probably surprised more than one person to hear that this is one of his favorite songs, but not to the people who know him and love him best. Your daddy is from a small town and he is very proud of it.

This past weekend, we loaded you and all your gear and the Beagle up and headed to daddy's hometown for a visit. You had been there once before; you were about 7 weeks old though, and it was nasty-cold out. Once we got you into grandpa and grandma's, there you stayed. You didn't get the chance to see much of daddy's small town.

This weekend though, this weekend was perfect. It was sunny and breezy and gorgeous. And you were the Best Girl ever and melted people's hearts with your smile and energy. I don't know how daddy didn't explode he was so proud and happy to have you home.

Saturday morning, daddy and I slept in until 10am with the windows open. We had donuts and "Crispies" pastries from the wonderful bakery up town. Daddy said that is the only bakery that puts the right kind of vanilla cream filling into chocolate donuts.

We visited the nursing home where grandma works. You met sisters, one 98 years old, the other, 103.
Of course, all the ladies grandma works with have seen your photo a time or two, but marveled at seeing you in person. It was these people who sent gift after gift after gift. The people in this small town are so generous. The residents too though, lil' dude, they knew all about you as well. I thought my face was going to break from all the smiling I did, seeing them peer at your face and declare things like, "She has big pretty eyes," or "I am so happy to know you, you little lady." You, my sweet daughter, made dark, long days better for each person you met. More than once our visit turned into a resident showing you and I photos of their families. You made them remember! As we poked our heads into the last room before we left, we asked an old man if he was ready to meet you. He sat upright in bed, and turned on the light and said your name so loud! You see, he asked your grandma everyday when you were going to be born, and after, asked everyday when you were going to visit him. He deemed you, "the nicest baby I have ever known!"
On the way home, grandma pointed out the town pool where daddy spent summers life-guarding and teaching little kids to not plug their noses when they jump in. He'll teach you one day, too.

That afternoon, we took you to the park, about 3 blocks from where daddy grew up, the same house grandpa and grandma live in today. He told you, "see those Evergreen trees by the tennis court? I remember when those were planted." Now, they are so tall, you can't see the tennis courts on the other side.

We picked up a greasy thin crust pepperoni pizza Saturday night from the one-word pizza parlor, and drank Busch Light. All the things you do in a small town. We walked around grandma's flower beds and waved to people walking by. We visited neighbors, showing you off, as you drooled and flashed gummy grins. You ate your cereal in daddy's old metal highchair, propped up with a stripey blue and white afghan.

There is also the highschool visible from grandpa and grandma's living room window. Friday nights in the fall you can hear the football game and see the lights. There is the VFW where your great-grandpa worked and gave free pitchers of beer to daddy and his friends, telling them "not to worry about it". He would dance with all the girls on the dance floor, and "made the stiffest drink the county," according to legend. There is the drugstore with the soda counter where grandma gets all her pictures of you printed; the church where your grandparents got married; the golf course; the purple house on the corner. Everything inside one small town.

Lil' dude, this is a big part of your history. Your daddy turned out the way he is because of all these places. You'll have your places too as you grow up . . . making you into the person you are going to be.

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