The Grandma Diaries

My children are obsessed with youtube channels, and youtube stars. I’m old. I don’t understand. I’m okay with that. I’ve decided that I should have my own Youtube channel. It will be called the Grandma Diaries. Seriously. This teenage boy was secretly videoing his grandma while she drove him around.

His channel is now some sort of Youtube sensation. So, I would only be sort of stealing his idea. He doesn’t have my Mom or my Aunt. Grandma and Nana Bonnie are pretty hilarious. 

Here is a sampling of a few of things I hear while I drive them around…

“Mom, I can see the main road.” “I know, turn here, it’s shorter. It’s my old Indian trick.”

“He was an Apache. He had a mean streak.” “Because we Cherokees were a kind sensitive tribe?” “Exactly.” (Some of this really needs to be video so you can get the inflections.)

“Well, would you look at those crazy cranks!” 

“They always smile at your face right before they stab you in the back!…Well, she will!!!” 

“He just called her everything but a white woman!” 

 “Well hey!” Then insert any piece of advice Nana Bonnie ever gave me.

“This too shall pass…” with a series of head nods and amens and maybe even a pat on the back. 

“Do you remember that story Mama told about the woman at the sewing plant? What she had to do for her husband…”  I’m just going to stop there since I want this to be a PG-13 blog.

“That was a hot night in July. The sheriff knocked on the door and…” That would be another story that I have to wait to tell until well, I’m dead or I would be in a hot minute. 

“Are you driving me out here to shoot me and leave me for dead?” 

This my friends is but a sampling of the things that I hear. Some of them will haunt me again tonight. How can two women simultaneously fill me with love, make me laugh until I pee myself and horrify me? My word I love them!

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My Captain

I got in rather late Sunday night to find out that Ray would be frocked Monday morning at 10:30. For you non-navy people, Ray was selected to promote to Captain a couple of months ago. His actual promotion wasn’t supposed to take place until sometime late next year. Because of his current job, it was decided to by someone higher up than my pay grade to promote him early. He got his pin, and all that comes with being Captain except for the pay. We’ll have to wait until sometime late next year for that. I was aware that Ray was going to be frocked early. I just didn’t know if was going to come at 10:30 in the morning the day after I got home. 

Ray and I discussed over and over where it would happen. I was gunning for the Mighty MO. I love that ship. It looks out over the harbor and stands watch over the Arizona. Ray didn’t want the pomp and circumstance of all that. In fact, Ray would have been happy to have a small ceremony with only the kids and me. I remind him all the time that it’s not always about him, the new young sailors need to see the ceremony and understand the value but… it was more important to us that our kids be there than the young sailors and as I came closer it was apparent that it was all going to happen on a coveted day off. We would never ask people to get all dressed up in the middle of the morning on their day off to watch a 15 minute ceremony. After lots of talk, we decided that the proper place would be the old Arizona memorial. It looks out on the new memorial and Pearl Harbor and is a great reminder of why Ray chose to serve his country.

The nice thing about jet lag… I’m up early. I had time to iron clothes and primp and do hair. Bria’s was still a little wet but drying all that hair is a bit of a problem. We were out the door. Ray insisted on being quiet about it, but the people that work with him found out and were right there to support all of us. I can’t tell you how much I love all the people at NEPMU6. They will be a HUGE reason that we miss Hawaii so much. 

Okay, so for what you want to see…THE PICTURES…

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Captain Via said a few words about the history of oaths and why this day is so special, and then proceeded to have Ray take the oath. It goes something like this, “I, Raymond Stiff, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Then, we are allowed to change out his shoulder boards. He gets a new stripe.

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The general idea was that Hanan and Jack would change out one side, and Arleigh and Bria would change out the other. Everyone participated I just had to resnap them in place. Couldn’t have them flapping in the trade winds right after he put them on. 

Then, it’s time for Ray to say a few things. I don’t know how he does it. Off the cuff, he said that he wanted his guys to remember that today wasn’t about what we would get from this promotion. It was an oath to swear allegiance to something bigger and to be reminded of the responsibility he was taking on. 

And like that. It was over. These things literally last all of 15 minutes. We took a few pictures with The Arizona’s flag unfurled behind us. 

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There just aren’t words to tell you about how proud I am of Ray and all he’s accomplished. He is loved and respected by so many sailors that work with him. I swell like a proud peacock every time I get to watch him do what he loves. I am however, no where near old enough to be a captain’s wife. So there’s that.

Ray has a pretty proud son too. He’s decided that the rank of Captain Stiff makes him a pirate. Proud day for that boy!

IMG_0039There has been lots of talk over the last couple of years about what the future holds next for our little family. Ray can’t decide what he wants to be when he grows up. This promotion gives us a bit of relief as the navy has decided to keep up around for a little while. We get to put off our decisions for a few more years. That’s just great for us because the navy is right where we want to be!

 

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Thoughts On A Plane

I am a people watcher. While I’m not particularly enjoying a long trip leaving my mom to head back to my little family, I must admit that sitting for so long with so many strangers has me feeling a bit like a pig in stink. I’ve traveled from Nashville to Atlanta on the way to Honolulu via Seattle. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve already seen and thought during this shorter leg of my travels.

Here are a few things that have run through my mind…

Why on earth are your drinking five hour energy right before you board a plane? Should I be concerned? Are you on my flight?

I’m happy you’re happy but my headphones aren’t even totally drowning out the sound of your sloppy wet kisses. You are at least 20 years older than me, even if it is your honeymoon, cool it down. The inside of an airplane should not be considered getting a room! From what I understand you should at least retire to the loo to earn the mile high club status, not that I would know or anything.

I wonder what the Seattle hippies thought when I opened my Southern Guns and Gardens magazine. Oh yes I did! Alton Brown is featured in it. You can stop shaking your head anytime now but it was funny.

I am equally amazed that wifi is available for me to write this post during my flight and irritated that it works so ever loving slow.

Should I be concerned that this flight took off so late because the auxiliary power shut off? Between the ac spitting a vile liquid on my face, announcements that the computers have gone haywire and the auxiliary power shut off, I would be lying like a dog in the afternoon sun if I said I wasn’t a bit concerned.

I know everyone wants to be comfortable when they travel. If I can see your skin through the transparent tights you’re wearing, you might want to wear more than a tiny little shawl over that unitard that you wore to your gymnastic class in the fourth grade. Plus, you haven’t been in the fourth grade in like 35 years so….I seriously just said unitard. That word just sounds funny.

If this is what I’ve seen and thought and I’m not even to Seattle yet, can you imagine what the next leg will be like? Fair winds and following seas indeed!

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When The Mom’s Away

Lots of people have asked how Ray is doing with four kids by himself. I have to tell you…he’s offended. I thinks he’s approached it much like a full scale tactical operation and he’s performing beautifully in spite of the many challenges.

For instance this morning lunches were lined, kids were bathed, everyone was ready. Like any exercise, a kink was thrown in just to see if he could handle one more thing…like his son accidentally sitting down on a fresh pile of puppy poop exactly 7 minutes before he prepared to execute operation car line from hell. By the way, he’s learning there is nothing quite like an aloha time car line. I also believe there was a relatively new rug left on my curb this morning and Jack might have one less pair of shorts but it’s all good. If Eddie happens to drive by in an RV he’s welcome to the very stinky rug. Of course he’ll have to beat the pickup that circles like a vulture on bulk trash day.

Ray got to handle our schedule on a week that everything shifted on a dime as all the middle school extracurriculars were added to the line up. I did cancel piano for him saving him approximately an hour and a half in traffic and two hours stuck on a couch listening to Miss Momoko tell our kids they are wasting our money by not practicing enough. I try to throw him a bone like that every now and then.

I’ve heard that Daddy is better at bath time, homework and also dinner among many other things. Of course he cheated and walked over to the Forty-Niner for banana mac nut pancakes.

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Ray is the best Dad ever! It is such a relief to know that I can be here and things literally a world away are running smoothly. Truth be told, it’s probably much smoother with Ray at the helm. Thanks Ray for always being there for me! I love you!

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Hawaii In Kentucky

When we moved to Hawaii a little over two years ago I fell hard for my little island. Well, the first month living in the Navy Lodge without a car wasn’t easy but a hot second after I unpacked my house I was smitten. The salt water, the blue skies and rainbows, the surf and especially the people. Right after unpacking Ray surprised me with a snuba excursion for my birthday. (I didn’t misspell scuba. It’s fun and you should come visit and try it.) On our ride back into shore we were talking about why I loved it so much and seemed to have no problem with the locals that we had heard so many rumors about. We came to one conclusion. Hawaii is just a more tropical version of my little piece of Western Kentucky.

If you get away from Waikiki, you’ll find people who love their family. Family is first, always. The are suspicious of outsiders but once you’re welcomed, you are family. They like big trucks or in my case, big Jeeps. Kailua pork and mac salad is really not that far off what is served at every family gathering here. Hunting and fishing are a way of life. You would be surprised at how much people in Western Kentucky have in common with people in Hawaii.

It all came full circle for me yesterday. If you’ve seen the movie, 50 First Dates, you know that it about a girl in Hawaii who suffers from short term memory loss after a car accident because a cow is in the road. Love that movie! In fact a good friend just sent me a copy for my birthday. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Plus, it’s my little island and Sea Life Park. Anyway… yesterday a storm blew over. I jumped in Mom’s truck and headed into town to meet up with some friends. I came around the corner and had to stop.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen a cow in the road, but it certainly made me laugh. Thankfully, there was no accident. Unfortunately, there was also no fresh pineapple.

 

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Mahalo Nui Loa

Almost three months ago, I felt completely overwhelmed. I was with Mom and Ned for a few weeks. It was becoming very apparent to me that Mom needed help in a big way caring for Ned. I wept when I left after Tye died. I knew I was leaving her in some pretty good hands, but they weren’t mine. Leaving in June was so much harder. I was a wreck. Literally the only thing that I could do for her was to be an outlet to vent to and pray. If you know me at all, you know that’s hard. I just want to fix it.

There is no way to say thank you. There is no way to thank Angie, Bryan, Chase and Kyle or their spouses enough. I can’t even start to list the rest of the Kendall clan that stepped up so big since I left in June. If you are reading this, please know I heard everything from Mom. I heard about every act of kindness. I heard about every time someone coaxed a smile. I heard about food being dropped off, rides being given, much needed breaks, rubbing legs, cleaning houses…I could go on and on. All I can say is Mahalo Nui Loa. The literal translation would be “Thanks great big and long.” I think that seems appropriate. It has been a great big long journey filled with people blessing Mom and Ned in their time of need.

Aunt Bonnie has been right there too. She was hanging out with Nedbone, cleaning, cooking, doing everything she could. She even waited at an airport for a few extra hours to drag my butt home.

I arrived to Golo late Friday night. There was a crowd waiting to greet me even in their grief. I have never in my life seen so much food. Fried chicken seemed to be regenerating in the refrigerator. I’m pretty sure more than 3 hogs were sent to slaughter to come up with the amount of bar-b-que scattered in various vessels between Mom’s kitchen and the pond house. Buns were plentiful. Chips were everywhere. Don’t even get me started on the breakfast casseroles, sweet buns and desserts. When people don’t know what to say or what to do, they bring food and lots of sweet tea. Bless ‘em! Thank you!

In the last couple of days alone, I’ve watched Mom pour over what looks like hundreds of cards, soaking in each word. While I realize I can’t write a thank you note for cards, I want to tell each one of you what it has meant to her to read your kind and compassionate well wishes. I never really think a card means much until I am on the receiving end. Those words mean everything when you are hurting.

Then there are the prayers. I know people all over the world have been praying for Ned.  I can say that because I wasn’t shy about asking people that I know all over the world to pray. When Ned passed, they immediately started praying for peace for the family. I know those prayers were felt. Thank you. We covet prayers. We could use some more.

Can I just tell you that I have never been at a more beautiful funeral service? Stan Colley just nailed it. It was a true celebration of Ned’s life as a Christian, a servant, a mentor, a father, a brother, a son, a husband. The number of people who took time out of their schedule to come from far flung places are a true testament to Ned’s character. Thank you for showing up. Someone told me there was record setting attendance. I would believe it. Everyone loved Ned. You couldn’t help yourself. He never gave anyone a reason not to. There are so many people that I alone need to thank for coming to support me. My sweet mother-in-law and Ray’s aunt and cousin drove all the way in from IL and were shocked when they were asked to sit down because the line was so long. There were flowers and remembrance gifts. It is almost overwhelming. Again, I say “Mahalo Nui Loa!”

There have been so many text messages, phone calls, Facebook messages, comments… I just want you to know I passed your sentiments on to Mom. Thank you.

For those of you who have asked about my sweet Mama please know, she is strong. Boy howdy! That woman is stronger than I ever gave her credit for when I was giving her 10 kinds of hell as a teenager. When someone asks her how she is, I’ve heard her say more than once, “I’ve had 2 great husbands. I know some women don’t even have 1.” She did have two of the very best husbands I know and I am so very grateful and blessed to have been in both of their lives. She’s said other stuff too. I wish I was recording her conversations as people have given her condolences. I have cringed for people, laughed and even wanted to say, “Please forgive my mother for she knows not what she says.” I’m glad at the end of the day, we can sit down and laugh about it.

Mom is in what I like to refer to as her nesting stage of grief. She is figuring things out, trying to get comfortable in her house and her routine. We think alike. So we approach things the same way. I’ve stood behind her as she buried her mother, her husband, her father, her son and now another husband. I unfortunately know exactly what she means when she says, “I need to rearrange the furniture I feel like I’m picking at a scab.” She needs things shaken up a bit to stop herself from wallowing in grief. She needs to dot every I and cross every T to make sure things are done or she can’t sleep. I’m so glad that I’m here to help her do whatever she needs to do to feel comfortable in her own home again. Thank you Ray for taking care of 4 kids, a crazy schedule and a full time job while I’m here sorting things out for Mom. I love you!

Mom is okay. I know we could all be better, but I’ll take okay. One day, maybe it will be a little better than okay. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to help her find her aloha again but that’s something she’s going to have to want to do for herself.

I can’t say it enough. Mahalo Nui Loa for every little thing that has been done for this family since Ned’s diagnosis. When I have to leave, it is going to rip me apart but I know with certainty that I’m leaving her in good hands.

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