The past 12 months have almost been a blur. It seems that way each December as I attempt to capture the joys and milestones of another year together, as we count the blessings deeply enjoyed since your birth now more than six years ago and as we add a chapter of memories made more meaningful and precious by a cherished series of events, activities and life itself.
You remain a special young man, full of energy, full of smiles and happiness, full of a giving and inquisitive spirit.
And we know now you make adjustments well.
That’s especially important this year, of course, because we moved to the Jackson area from Greenville, Ala., and for you that meant a new house, a new school, new neighbors, new friends and essentially new surroundings.
But it also means you now have a link to the state that has meant much to our family. Your mom was born in Natchez, graduated from Ole Miss and once worked at the Clarion-Ledger. Our family earlier lived in Natchez and your brother Scott graduated from Trinity Episcopal where he won a tennis championship, later lived and worked in the Jackson area after graduating from Alabama and only last summer married another Natchez blonde, who also graduated from Ole Miss. Your brother Chris was born in Picayune, lived a short while in Natchez where he still has a number of friends. And I have had the privilege of publishing newspapers in Picayune, Natchez, Meridian and now Jackson.
That your grandparents still live in Natchez is a huge benefit, making fun visits with them more frequent. And granddad can still fix anything.
Early on, as we assumed, you missed Fort Dale Academy, Pastor Jeff and the Hamm family, the pool where you learned to swim, the huge backyard you often explored or turned into a soccer field or football stadium, movies with mom and Montgomery Biscuit baseball games with dad.
Once the transition ended and we found a terrific house to call home, however, we settled into something of a regular routine.
Your summer was especially busy since you served, flawlessly I might add, as ring bearer in two weddings and the pace hasn’t seemed to slow since.
Your love for numbers and statistics has not diminished and you still begin each day looking at the newspaper sports section for scores. While you don’t know it yet, your awareness of a particular team that is “apposed to win” is actually the weekly betting line. Your interest in math continues to please us and though we’re exited you’re now reading well, those new skills have altered our conversations some, eliminating the privacy that spelling words once afforded us. “Bark George” remains a favorite book though you like to study maps as well.
You really like Mrs. Bridwell, Madison Avenue Elementary and after-school art classes, have overcome the temporary trauma of a large lunchroom, have become accustomed to the Jaguars’ orange-and-blue color scheme and look forward to basketball now that the soccer season has ended. Tom and Barrett have become special friends and girls, with the possible exception of Ashleigh, your lifelong buddy, are strictly taboo.
You remain handy, helping around the house, love playing or working in the yard, have a knack for turning boxes into puppet theaters and rocket ships and can make a tasty fruit salad, though I wish you hadn’t told mom she was a good cook, then added “but she’s no Rachel Ray.”
You’ve seen your first snow, but you haven’t lost your first tooth. Stickers and puzzles remain important to you, but baseball cards and Monopoly can keep you busy for hours.
We’re not surprised you’ve remained a committed Alabama fan. You did see three games in Bryant-Denny this year, but mom’s Ole Miss ties and our two visits to Millsaps have given you other favorite teams to cheer on as well.
Based on your detailed play-by-play accounts of your own games, it appears a sports broadcasting career may be likely and we’ve noticed you now diagram plays on the steamy door of our shower, adding commentary to make-believe games you create.
We haven’t found our new church yet, but we know you share in the importance of that search. When later in heaven, you said you’d like to first meet Moses, we were touched. Moments later, when you quickly changed that to “Bear Bryant,” we could only giggle.
That’s because we laugh a lot with you, Grant. Your hugs, kisses and nighttime prayers are like no other. All days with you are fun. You cause each to become a special memory and the lessons we learn about simple goodness, fresh innocence and real, meaningful qualities of life provide a focus that reminds us of what truly is important.
Thanks. Having you in our lives is a blessing. And loving you is such an easy thing to do.
Contact MBJ editor/publisher Ed Darling at firstname.lastname@example.org.