Writing My Life

Now and Then


… a time to “tributize” the grandpa, too …

There are times I refer to Gar as “GrumPa” – usually when he assumes his Felix Unger identity, and the little ones combine to play his rascally counterpart, Oscar (as in The Odd Couple’s Oscar Madison, NOT Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch.)

Walter Mattau and Jack Lemon - the original Oscar and Felix

Oscar Madison, slob; Felix Unger, neat-freak

Both a slob AND a grouch!

He may not LOVE their MESSES, but he’s working on that patience thing because he absolutely adores his grandkidlets. Gar loved his Father’s Day with his little ones, and here’s proof!

Can you get it, GramPa?

Can you get it, GramPa?

We made it, Buddy!

We made it, Buddy!

Learnin' to walk with GramPa!

Learnin' to walk with GramPa!

Congratulatory Kisses!
Congratulatory Kisses!

Thanks to Unca Tim for these great pictures, and more will be on their way! We can’t pass up Kodak moments like these, now can we? (Especially when GramPa is wearing the preppy plaid Burmudas Gramma gave him for Father’s Day – the pale, white legs came free with the shorts! : ) )

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… a time to “tributize” hubby …

One night this past week, Hubby and I couldn’t stop laughing. The chuckles and giggles erupted over something ridiculous, the details of which I cannot begin to remember. But that’s not important! Gar’s goodnight comment, still laced with laughter, is what I’ll never forget. He rhetorically asked, “Who would ever know that living with someone could be so much fun?”

Now this observation delighted me because he said it after 40 years of marriage to ME. You see, I am NOT the easiest person to spend a lifetime with, let alone all eternity. I’m not saying he’s the easiest man to live with either, but there is NO ONE I’d rather laugh, cry, or argue disagree with. The miracle of our marriage is that we have grown to love each other for the people we really are – not the IMAGE of our dream mate or the spouse we THOUGHT married.

I adore Gary – my nit-picky, occasionally grumpy, chronic teaser of a husband! Over four decades I’ve learned to appreciate his many, many strengths and to either ignore his idiosyncrasies or snicker at them. I’m not going to dwell on his oddities, but I have to share a couple of them.

Unlike many males, Gar picks up after himself and anybody else who happens to live under our roof. I’m not saying he tidies up after us with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, but these days he tries not to growl too loudly. He’s also a great multi-tasker. If he comes home early, for instance, he’ll have the wash nearly finished, the lawn mowed, and dinner started before I arrive home. If I get home early, I’ll get my clothes changed before he shows up. Hmmmm.

I know many wives reading this post are thinking, “That’s NO oddity; that is SAINTLY.” But it can be annoying. Sometimes Many times, I drag home, ready to prop up my feet and just veg, but NOT Gar. He’s busy picking up or working in the yard, and so I can’t stretch out on the couch while he vacuums around me or lounge on the deck while watching him weed or plant yet another daylilly. So I sigh and pick up a dust cloth or a garden spade and drag my weary self through the motions of helping out.

There’s a particular cleaning situation, however, that I steer clear of. If the University of Utah and BYU are playing football against each other, and the Utes are playing poorly, Gar can’t suffer through intercepted passes or fumbled hand-offs. Because he is not able or allowed to run onto the field and ignite the offense or tighten up the defense, he grabs the vacuum and tears up and down the family room carpet. If the game doesn’t improve, the kitchen gets scoured, the floors scrubbed, and the garage organized. It’s quite amazing. Unfortunately, the red team didn’t  throw many interceptions or fumble many handoffs last season,  so the pre-holiday cleaning frenzy wasn’t what it used to be. (Go Cougs!)

Although my Gar is 60-something, I think he’s still afraid of the dark. He denies it, of course. But if you’ve ever visited our home in the evening, you may notice that little lights start twinkling from one end of the house to the other as darkness sets in. Nightlights line the hallway and the perimeters of every room. Of course our grown kids noticed the indoor landing lights and expressed curiosity about the type of aircraft expected to glide down our hallway.

Just in case the nightlights fail

Just in case the nightlights fail

A couple of Christmases ago, one of our daughters-in-law found the perfect gift for Gar – slippers with “toe-lights!” Seriously. But our son pooh-poohed the idea because he thought $39.95 was a little too much to pay for a gag-gift. I wish they had gone through with the purchase because I’m pretty sure his dad would have been thrilled. He LOVES slippers as well as lighted pathways.

Our grandchildren have also noticed that their grandpa is unique, if their titles for him are any indication of their observations. For example, my oldest son’s oldest daughter dubbed Gary BawCaw/Baca (not sure of the spelling). Upon hearing her refer to Grandpa by that dubious name, a nearby stranger commented upon the term by informing us that it means “crazy” in Japanese. A little further research indicates that Baca also means cowherd, mulberry tree, and misery. (By the way, it’s not listed among the 1000 most popular names between 1990 and 2003. Surprise.)

Our second son and his wife taught their children to call their grandpas by Papa, as in Papa Gary. I think that sounds quite cute. And while our third son and his wife encouraged their daughter to use “Grandpa Gary,” she came up with her own term of endearment: Cra-pa. (Say it fast for the total effect.) I thought it was pretty funny until yesterday when she called me Cra-ma.

So far this entry doesn’t sound much like a tribute, does it? Maybe a bit of a “roast?” (Thank heavens, Gary has a GREAT sense of humor!) Unfortunately, the post is growing in length, so I am going to “bullet” SOME of his MANY attributes, and later I’ll post pictures that share the rest of the story. First, the itemized list:

  • He quietly worries about all his children and grandchildren; I don’t think they realize how much.
  • He’s the first to ask, “Do you think we should send/give the kids a little something to help them through this tough time/to pay for their gas expenses/to celebrate their anniversary?
  • Out of the blue, he’ll send Halloween cards to our faraway grandchildren because he misses them.
  • Without an invitation or request, he’ll jump on a flight to a faraway state so he can help drive the moving truck to the next residence in another faraway state.
  • He’ll load and unload moving trucks for any son if at all possible.
  • He’ll paint walls, help build patio covers or fences, and plant a gazillion bushes, trees, and perenniels to make his wife or his sons’ wives a little happier.
  • He’ll play lion or monster, tickle bug, or sports fan to satisfy the needs of a grandchild.
  • He spends countless hours serving the Lord and NEVER complains about the time and energy it takes.
  • His only hobbies are and have always been his family. His “boys’ night outs” were spent as Scoutmaster with his sons on campouts or coaching or watching their baseball/basketball games.
  • He adores his mother-in-law and shows it.
  • He is always trying to be a better husband, father, grandfather, church member, neighbor, and person.

Gary isn’t the “Ward Cleaver” of Leave It to Beaver

Mr. Perfect Husband and Father

Mr. Perfect Husband and Father

nor the Archie Bunker of All in the Family …

The original GRUMPA!
The original GRUMPA!

Which all adds up to someone who isMY Gar



… a time to chortle … enjoying MoNdeGrEenS

I was supposed to be busy folding laundry, but instead I was peeking at friends’ and families’ blogs. During this diversion, I read an entry that made me laugh out out (lol in textspeak.) It seems that my neighbor’s children were perusing a Disney catalog of available DVDs, and the conversation went like this:

Daughter: “LOOK! Incredibles! (Or whatever movie she was looking at.) We [have] never seen that one!”

Son: “That’s Prince of Diarrhea!”
(Otherwise known to the rest of the world as Princess Diaries.)

First of all, I hope she doesn’t mind that I copied and pasted the dialog; and secondly, wouldn’t you know a boy – even a little one – is the author of a potty reference – even if unintentionally? But that’s NOT the focus of this post! (WHEW! You breathe in relief!)

Besides laughing at the incident, I recognized her son’s comment as a “mondegreen.” A what?  Well, according to one of my favorite references, The Word Snoop: A wild and witty tour of the English Language! by Ursula Dubosarsky, a mondegreen is “what happens when we hear words without reading them and our brains have to work out what we think is being said or, more often, sung.”

The term was coined in 1954 by the writer Sylvia Wright. When she was young she misheard her mother recite a line from a poem:

“They have slain the Earl of Murray,

And they laid him on the green.”

which she heard as:

“They have slain the Earl of Murray, 

And the Lady Mondegreen.”

OH NO! Not Lady Mondegreen, too?

Naturally, I recalled a couple of mondegreen experiences – not nearly as humorous as the Prince of Diarrhea, but memorable, for some reason. An old family story revolves around my sister Connie’s concern about starting kindergarten at Losin’ Clark Elementary School.

I can just picture what she thought was going on at an educational institution that loses people. Maybe teachers just misplaced students named Clark, but it still would give rise for worries, especially for a 6-year-old! With relief, she ended first grade knowing how to read, and therefore, learned that she attended Lewis and Clark Elementary! That tidbit clarified everything: It was LEWIS who lost Clark while exploring the great northwest!

I’m not immune to this condition either. I often “mishear” lyrics to songs, and I always have – even when I was younger and had better hearing, AND lyrics were less complicated: “She loves you. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” – for example.

Nowadays, as I listen to FM100 or 97.9, The Breeze, I hear several of Sheryl Crow’s many songs. One title I particularly enjoyed was “As God is My Hero!” What a wonderful sentiment! I thought as I listened to Sheryl sing the refrain. But then I heard it again, and thought she was considering God’s gender as she sung “As God is My DIVA!” Finally one day, I heard the DJ announce, “That was Sheryl Crow singing The First Cut is the Deepest.”


I’m not really sure if this counts as a mondegreen experience or a hearing loss. But I’m standing by the mondegreen claim rather than entertaining the notion of buying hearing aids.

As I wind up this light topic, I am putting a call out to my many readers to share your experiences with mondegreens. I know my own grandchildren have come up with some doozies, but do you think I can remember what they are? (First the hearing and now the memory – what’s next? Sheeeeesh!)

Anyway, please search your family stories; talk with your spouses to see if you can come up with an example or two. Or grab a pencil and paper, tie it around your neck so that you are prepared to record the next humorous mondegreen that comes out of your little ones’ mouths – and if it has anything to do with potty humor, all the better!

See ya in the comment column!