05 May 2013

The Walker's

As Kevin and I were falling asleep last night, the subject of happy times came up. We took a few trips down memory lane, and eventually the conversation became one sided while Kevin gave me sporadic, "uh-huh's" between bouts of sleep (I appreciate his kindness).

Eventually I too fell asleep but my dreams picked up where my voice left off.

When I think back to my childhood, most often my memories induce feelings of anger, resentment, pain and annoyance. But when those occasional few good memories poke through, man do they shine! As I talked to Kevin last night I happened to mention one of my top 5 favorite childhood memories, Branson, Missouri.

It was summer time and I was 12 years old. I spent the entire summer on the lake in Branson with my Grandpa and Grandma Walker, and a hoard of friends and relatives. We slept in a camper and spent most of our days jet skiing/boating on the lake, swimming, bbqing hot dogs, and enjoying the company of others. During the evening we would attend shows in Branson and walk down the strip. My favorite show was Legends in Concert. It was 2 hours of famous impersonators including: Sonny and Cher, The Blue's Brothers, Micheal Jackson and my favorite Elvis. I vividly remember meeting the impersonators after the show and freaking out when we got to Elvis; he was just so pretty (you don't have to be older to enjoy his good looks). Branson was like Vegas to me. The city was lit up at night and McDonalds had bumper boats, that was big deal! I loved every second of this trip! I went home tanner than I had every been in my entire life, glasses-less (dropped them in the lake), and happier than  pigs in mud; and too this day I smile from ear to ear as I reminisce on this joyous memory of my life.

I now realize this man looks nothing like Elvis (Elvis is much more attractive)
Speaking of this trip quickly brought up more happy memories with the Walker's. My grandparents seem to the the focus of a lot of my childhood happiness. They were my escape from the world that was my real life. When I look back at the things they did that cause my heart so much joy, even as an adult, it is always the small things that made such a big impact

Me March 6, 1988 (4 months old)

The most impactful thing they did for me was take in my sister as though she was their own. Most visits to grandma and grandpa Walker's, Tamika accompanied me. She wasn't their's but you would never have known that. Being without paternal grandparents of her own, my sister deeply appreciated their kindness and as an adult I truly respect them for what they did for her.

Grandpa & Me November 21, 1987 (6 days old)
Morning breakfasts included whatever I wanted. I always had the choice of toast, English muffins, oatmeal, grapefruit or cereal. Unlike with my mom, I was able to choose whatever cereal I wanted, not just the box that was open. This was always amazing to me.

Shopping was something we did often with my grandparents (mostly out of necessity as I was always low on cloths). It is never the shopping trips I remembered but the fact that grandma had to wash all of my new cloths before I could wear them. It was something that was so bizarre to me, yet so sweet.

Me August 13, 1988 (9 months old)
I remember playing on their giant waterbed with my sister and talking about how it was coolest bed we had ever seen. They never freaked out about us being on it. Never afraid we would mess it up. It was bed, it could be made again.

I have fond memories of my grandma combing my hair ever so gently trying desperately to comb out the kinks in my curls. I was their only grandchild at the time and being partially black left grandma in a predicament she never had encountered before...African American hair. I loved when grandma styled my hair. She always let me wear it down if I wanted to, even though she knew it would look like a frizzy mess later. She never had the "right" products to put in it, and no one had ever shown her how to "do" it. She did the best she could and I loved it! My hair was most often in small ponytails tight to my head, tamed and out of the way. I rarely had the luxury of wearing it down during the weeks, so on my weekends with grandma I always took full advantage of her ignorance and let it flow freely.

My wonderfully frizzy hair! (I actually really to love it this way)
Oct 6, 1990)


The guest bed was always so inviting. I would nestle down deep under the thick blankets taking in the sweet smell that to this day I can still pull to memory on a whim.

Often time's we would rent a movie (VHS) to watch at some point on the weekend. My favorite part of all of the movies was the end. Grandpa had this amazing VHS rewinder that was in the shape of a car. If you firmly pressed down on the hood it would pop up reviling a spot for the VHS. You would slide the VHS into the the car rewinder, firmly press the hood back down again and the car headlights would come on while the car quickly rewinded the VHS. It was without a doubt the coolest gadget of that time.

Random picture from the internet...just wanted to show the concept

I loved to spend cold winter nights in the hot tub on the deck at night. It was by far the highlight to my evening. I would wait patiently for grandma to tell us girls to change into our bathing suits and nearly sprint up the stairs when when she finally broached the subject.

My grandparents too this day send me birthday and Christmas cards each year. They always make sure they have my correct address (I move a lot) to make sure that my cards reach me each year. We had a mishap one year that Grandpa quickly resolved.

Case in point...
Don't mess with Grandpa Walker :-)

I could go on and on about Christmas thumb-print cookies, light bright fun by the fireplace, endless albums of pictures, and grandpa's "serious" talks. Aside from the one time I colored highlighter on the arm of grandpa's chair I have no true memories of my grandparents getting mad at me. If they ever did, apparently I didn't take it too seriously as I don't remember. My grandparents were truly inspiring to me. I fed off of their success and yearned for their happiness. They were the role models I needed in my life and played a major role in keeping me on track. I wanted to be like them, I still want to be like them.

::::::::::::::::::::

Dear Grandpa and Grandpa Walker,

I don't think I have ever told you guys how much having you in my life meant to me. You accepted and loved me through all of the craziness that was my mother and father. From the day I was born you took me into your home for full weekends caring for me completely and doing it happily. You never let yours or my relationship with my father affect how you treated me. You have played a major role in molding me into the person I am today, and you are the one of the major rainbows in the rainstorm that was my life. There is no way I could ever repay you for all that you have done for me and Tamika, but you should know that your love and kindness has not gone unnoticed. I hold a special and very dear spot in my heart for you two. Thank you for being you, and I love you both so very much!

Sincerely,

LaTasha


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