Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween and Birthday

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, along with Easter and Christmas. I love to decorate for Halloween with all of the cute ghosts and goblins.

As a kid, growing up on a farm, out in the middle of nowhere, we had few neighbors for me to trick-or-treat to. I remember going up in the field to our neighbor’s house. Her kids were all grown and I was her only trick-or-treater. I swear that she would buy 40 bags of candy just for me. Some years she made popcorn balls or candied apples. She sent home tons with me, keeping just a few for her and her husband to enjoy. After stopping there we were on our way to my Aunt S and Uncle A’s house. They weren’t really family, but Aunt S and my grandmother had been friends for like 100 years. At least that’s what I thought then. Like us, the neighbors to the north; Aunt S and Uncle A lived in the boonies. I was there only trick or treator. So you can imagine what two stops did to that poor little plastic pumpkin; he was full and often overflowing.

To experience the full effect of Halloween, I often when into town and went trick-or-treating with my best friend. Otherwise I only got to knock on three houses. There were never any tricks either, I was too sweet, (and please, no comments from the parents on this one.) :)

There was one other house that was on my list, but this house was different. It was more like an extension of home, except without the toys. This house was less than 50 yards from mine. It could be walked to in under a minute, and ran in under 30 seconds. It was the house that my grandparents live in. This stop was the most important of all.


Halloween is my grandfathers birthday; or as he was christened by me, my Gangie’s birthday. This house was usually hit twice in one night. Once for a birthday dinner and birthday cake or pie (he always picked) and a second when I was all dressed up in my costume of choice.

I asked him once why he was born on Halloween and he told me it was because he was a spook.

Tomorrow we would have celebrated his 87th birthday. He was a very special and unique person. He was one of those adults that most kids loved. My best friend adored him. My husband adored him, and my husband John missed out on the good stuff. My grandfather was 77 when we got married, and he didn’t have the energy to do some of the things that he did when I was a kid. Like riding up in the field and playing in the mud while he moved water, and the learning to shoot that 22 rifle, with bailing wire holding the butt together, at old oil cans. He missed him stopping in the road to pick something up because it might come in handy one day. He missed him taking stuff apart and not being able to get it back together, just so he didn’t have to buy it new. Then he ended up buying it anyway because he couldn’t get it put back together. He missed the gardens and the little ditches he drew in the dirt in the orchard when he watered the trees.

However, John did get to listen to his time in the Navy. He got to listen to stories about me growing up. He got to hear stories about his childhood and being born early and how his mother used the oven to keep him warm. (Think incubator). How he terrorized his sisters then, and now. John was the butt of a few pranks, as my grandfather was capable of making you believe something. My favorite memory of Gangie doesn't directly involve him, but it was something he would have done. I was 5 or 6 and called my grandparents and back before call waiting you got a busy signal. I was sooooo infuriated because I thought it was Gangie on the other end of the line making that "bongit bongit" noise. It was something he would have done.

Gangie lived with us for 7 months, before we had to place him in the nursing home. Those months were the best and the worst of my life. We laughed and I learned more about the time he hitchhiked to the South Plains fair with Bonnie and Clyde. I hear more Navy stories, more things about when he worked on the Navajo reservation, his first car, his sisters, his mother, and my grandmother when she was younger. I probably know things about him and his life that even his daughter, my mother doesn’t know. I wouldn’t have traded those months for anything. We knew his time with us was short and we weren’t ready to say goodbye.

So this year, like all the ones prior, I’ll send a Happy Birthday wish to my favorite spook. I’ll have one of his favorite meals for dinner, and birthday cake. I’ll be thankful once again to have been blessed to have grown up with him and I’ll be thankful that one day I get to see him again.

Happy Birthday Gangie, we love you!

“I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom.”

“Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”

“Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.”
~Emily Dickinson

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