Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Grandpa's Birthday Weekend

I mentioned last post we went up north for the weekend. Every year my family (on my Dad's side) gets together for my Grandpa's birthday. We've been doing this, at least, for the past 9 years. This year was my grandfather's 89th. Which is such a strange concept for me to handle. Despite the fact that my grandfather does appear older, seemingly all of the sudden the past few years, I still think of him as being a strong, physical man in his 70's. Someone who played in the creek with us, hauled hay with my dad, and took us floating. Someone who stopped by my house every single day and was always a phone call away, hundreds of times when I needed a ride home from after school practice. We were reminiscing about a road trip he took with only Matt and me, when we were little. He drove us down to Fort Smith, to, among other things, visit some historic places, such as the Darby House and Fort Smith National Historic Site. I really hope we will be able to get together for my grandpa's 100th...wouldn't that be wonderful.It was an extra special year because just this month, Grandpa was inducted into the (U.S. Army) Ranger Hall of Fame. It was a really big deal, and I wish I had time to tell you all about it. (I did end up getting a little wordy, but I think he deserves to be recognized.) Here is one link, including a picture of my aunt and dad onstage, that describes the event. (Note: the article says there were only 200 present, but there were about 1,000 present.) My parents, aunt, uncle, and brother made the trip to Fort Benning, Georgia in lieu of my Grandpa, who felt he was not up to the trip. (He has a lot of back and leg pain, etc., right now.)

My brother put this DVD together of all of the pictures and video he took during the trip. We gathered around and watched it at the birthday party. That is my aunt and dad in this picture, too (and the enlarged picture of my Grandpa behind them). My dad accepted the award on my grandpa's behalf, and my aunt Patsy (a former English teacher/intelligent, sentimental person altogether) made a speech that made me totally cry the first time I listened to it.
My dad presented my grandfather with his Hall of Fame medal, the highest honor for a Ranger. Grandpa was also honored (read about it here and here) this summer at his hometown Fourth of July parade. They named it Edwin Dean Day and gave him a key to the city. Of course, all men and women who have fought for our country deserve a medal, at the very least. However, someone made the comment that my grandfather was the bravest soldier ("fightingest 'son of a gun'") he'd ever seen.

He was one of General William Darby's original Rangers in World War II, a part of the 1st and 4th battalions. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He was wounded but left the hospital, against doctor's orders, to rejoin his unit that was heading out of town. Another time, after a hard battle, he went back into enemy territory after a fallen comrade who was missing. He put his wounded friend over his shoulder and carried him to safety. Darby also gave him a battlefield commission during the battle for Italy. There's so much more to say; I can't really do it justice here.
Blowing out the candles with the help of his great-grandkids...A cute thing that Dash does: he calls GREAT-Grandpa Dean - "GREAT-GREAT Granpa Dean" (and he says it really fast, making it all run together).
My little girls: Winnie, Clara, and Sissy...I guess they look more alike than I realized.
We posed for all of our usual combinations...separate families, grandkids, my dad and his sisters, etc...these are the "cousins," (Adrienne, Katie, Matt, me, and Cary) posing with my Grandpa and Grandma Winnie (who is my stepgrandma; my grandma died before I was born). My sister Tracy and cousin Justin are missing. It's like a wedding, all of the pictures we take. We always have fun, suggesting possible photo combinations...Uncle Chuck, Sissy, and Michele...Chad (Adrienne's new husband) and Mom...etc.
Wow, we actually got a family photo. There aren't too many of these in existence.
My narcoleptic grandfather, bless his heart, was having a really hard time staying awake. During the DVD presentation, I was standing behind him, and I noticed his eyes kept closing. I kept tapping him from the opposite shoulder because I really wanted him to stay awake and see Patsy's speech. He'd turn around and kind of give a dirty look to my mom, who he assumed must be tapping (well, it was more like shaking) him. Later, he tried to claim he was "awake the whole time, but someone kept poking him." Patsy said, "It was Jenny!" She totally ratted me out! She said, "He would've been mad if he thought it was me! He wouldn't get mad at you." Yeah, yeah.
Flashback 30 plus years, me with "Pappaw"...

My two baby nephews, Pierson and Rush. Yeah, I know; it would be hard to squeeze any more cuteness into this picture.
I'm still not sure if Matt and Dad accidentally came out wearing the same thing (a little shout out to Precho, my brother-in-law's former band which was awesome; incidentally, his band mate, Todd, is starring right now in P. Diddy's Starmaker on MTV)...or if they planned it...and which one would be worse. Trust me, their similarities do not end with the t-shirts and khaki shorts.
Sunday, we headed over to Water Chute in Branson. SO is like one of the old school water slides of my youth (think Hydra Slide and Wet Willy's...and there was that one we always went to, along with the Mexican restaurant, in Kimberling City). This is Grace, coming down with Dash. She's only 7 but was so great about holding onto the other kids and not letting them fall under the water.
Grace, Owen, and Dash...we had a great time of walking up the ramp and back down the slide; it didn't get old! I love water slides. My kids were a little nervous, at first, standing at the top; it only took a few seconds, though, and they were hooked. There was a lot of, "Wow! This is fun."
Sissy loves all of her aunts and uncles for sure, and I've mentioned before, she has developed a special attachment to her Uncle Matt. I went down a few times with her, and so did Ryan. However, soon she ONLY wanted to ride with "Un-ca Matt" or "Gace." When she would walk away with him, she'd turn and give us a smile, like, "Look at me, haha. I'm riding with Matt!"
Feeling a little under the weather didn't stop Clara from rockin' the cuteness.


J dean said...

Hello, came across your blog by happenstance. I'm your cousin Jerry Dean (always went by Joey). Cool blog, enjoyed reading it. :-)

Anonymous said...

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