When the phone call came that our granddaughter Tara and husband Bryan were bringing the new baby to meet his three great grandparents and one great great grandmother here at this end of the state, we were excited. It has been a long wait for us to meet Maddux, who was born December 9. With the holidays and bad weather and icy roads, it was not wise to come earlier. Now the plan was to leave the Chicago area after the boys woke up on Saturday morning, and we’d be ready with a late lunch when they arrived at Woodsong. .
All the Southern Illinois relatives were eager for this visit. And we were equally eager to see Maddux’s big brother Aidan, who will be three at the end of May and is a delight. Gerald had spent a week being sure the tractor, the lawn mower, the mule, and the special grandchild wagon were all ready to go. He knew that he and Aidan would ride all of them during the visit. And within a couple of hours of the family’s arrival, they had all been used by Great Gpa Gerald and Aidan. I think Gerald pretty much let Aidan run things out there, although he did have to decline when Aidan wanted to pull Gerald in the little red wagon.
The Taylors were down for the day from Lake Saint Louis, and the Cedars came out from nearby Marion. Aidan had a big time playing with his mother’s younger cousins and their friends. The cousins also liked having their brief turns holding Maddux. With people coming and going, lunch turned into snacks and then into supper time with food in the crock pots.
We had spent the week planning menus and making plans for this especially happy weekend. And it was. Maddux was as sweet as we knew he would be. He did not sleep much after his arrival on Saturday when he was being passed from one Glasco aunt, uncle, or cousin to another. And then for dinner and evening at Gma Shirley’s, he was passed and admired and loved by all his Johnson relatives.
But with the deaths of two community friends, it was an especially sad weekend also. Gerry drove up from Georgia for a burial and funeral, and we were all grieving for these families. Nevertheless, Gerry had the pleasure of seeing his two grandsons along with the rest of us. That was very good.
He had already met Maddux at Christmas time, and Aidan had stayed at their house almost a week before Christmas. Aidan was so happy to see Gpa Gerry again. Despite some sweet genetic shyness, Aidan is a wonderfully good natured child who is pleased to see anyone who loves him, and all of us do. He has a smile that can make you feel like a million dollars. And to our amazement, when we talked directly to Maddux, he also gave brief little smiles. Tara said that just started a week ago.
Today Maddux was ready to catch up on his sleep, and we discovered he was just as sweet sleeping in our arms as he had been awake yesterday. I got my turn holding him in the church nursery, and the other nursery worker knew I deserved this special treat. She knew I’d be serving lunch when we got back to Woodsong, so this hour was especially important to me. Aidan was quickly involved playing with Toby, who was just a few months older than Aidan.
After lunch, the Archibalds packed their van and were on their way back to Aurora. I hope they are at home and asleep now.
Gerry drove up to Mt. Pleasant Cemetery at Poor-Do for the burial of Jeannie’s classmate Mark Mocaby. Mark had been a freshman when Gerry was a high school senior and they played basketball together. Afterwards he visited with other friends in that neighborhood until the time for Estes Hosman’s funeral visitation. We were to meet him there at the funeral home. .
We did, but the line was backed up for a long distance into the street, and it was bitter cold. We decided we had best not brave that long stand outside in addition to another long stand inside, and we left Gerry standing to pay homage to his friend. It was Estes and Chester, who taught Gerry about horses when we gave him a horse rather than a motorcycle at the end of eighth grade. (Gerry knew how to negotiate.) Estes and Cheyl’s daughter Jamie was the flower girl at Gerry and Vickie’s wedding almost 30 years ago.
Our hearts are heavy for the families of these two young men (one 60 and one 47). Yet we felt very blessed tonight before bedtime to have this long unexpected visit with Gerry as we sat and talked. He saw so many friends today that he had not seen in many many years, and we liked hearing about these folks also. We will have another brief visit with him in the morning before the 11 o’clock funeral and he starts the long drive back to Georgia. It has been an odd weekend—certainly not the undiluted joyful one we had anticipated.
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