Seventeen years ago, during a trip to Ohio to visit my ailing father, my then two year old niece Kelly and I were keeping Dad company together. He lived with Kelly's family and she was a real treat to be around.
It was winter and Kelly was wearing a pair of yellow Carter's Pajamas, the warm kind that zipped from angle to neck and had footed slippers attached to them-- the slippers with the non-skid bottoms. She was playing in the living room while I visited with Dad in his bedroom.
Every few minutes Dad would call out, "Kelllll--eeeey", in a sing-song voice that adults often use when talking to a toddler. "Kellll-eeeey". She would tip-toe up the hallway to his room, her little feet shuffling on the wood floor, trying to sneak up on us and play peek-a-boo.
When she'd peek her head around the corner to see us, Dad would coax--"Say Grandpa. Kelly, say Grandpa", words she had yet to speak. Kelly would giggle, run into the room, throw herself onto his bed, climb up until she was nose to nose with Dad then laugh and laugh, but never said a word. Then she'd wiggle herself off the bed and run back into the living room.
This game between them went on for at least a full hour-- "Kell-eey, Kell-eey", tip-toe, peek, "Say Grandpa", giggle, throw herself on the bed, laugh then run away, over and over again.
Finally, after about the hundredth time, little Kelly threw herself on the bed, climbed up and sit on Dad's belly then said, clear as a bell-- Aunt Joanna! We all looked at each other in disbelief, as she had never said my name before either. Then Kelly tossed her head back and laugh until we all nearly cried before wiggling herself off the bed to run back down the hall again.
After a long silly minute, Dad looked at me and said "Well, I'll be damned!" Moments later, the game started all over again but other than loads of giggles and laughter, Kelly never said another word the rest of the day.
Since that winter afternoon years ago, Kelly's had lots to say and has grown up to become a lovely young woman. This summer she will prepare to attend college in the fall, and even though the winters at school will be cold, she won't be packing a pair of footed pajamas... Or maybe she will.
It could be because Father's Day is around the corner, but this favorite memory has played over and over in my mind lately, partly because Kelly is old enough to go to college and partly because I miss my dad.
I hope you have happy family memories too.
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins