Labor Day weekend, 2000. We were headed to Lansing, 100 miles away to meet Shannon and Ariana for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Our son-in-law Tracey was in Jackson for the day, doing something at school where he was an elementary school teacher and the boy’s high school varsity basketball coach. Shannon was about 9-1/2 months pregnant. Hot, miserable and swollen, her moods no longer needed defining. Crabby (I’m being kind here to a much loved daughter) pretty much summed it up. We were halfway through breakfast when Shannon excused herself to the restroom. She came back and said her water had just broke. John leaps up from the table, yells, “move it, let’s go, let’s go!” Shannon shot him a look that should have ignited the building that hot September morning. “I won’t get anything but ice chips once I get to the hospital. I’m eating my pancakes. Sit down!” Alrighty then, let the woman (be nice I reminded myself) finish her meal. We called Tracey, finally headed to the hospital. Once Tracey arrived, we took 9 year old Ari back to their house for awhile. After lunch we drove back to the hospital just in time to see our first grandson, Landon Andrew, who was now all of about 10 minutes old. Ari was totally smitten. Tracey (his first child) was in awe and could not stop his tears. Shannon was happy and thrilled to no longer be pregnant (whew, me too).
|Ari 9, Shannon and Landon, September 4, 2000…|
A few months later, Shannon, Ariana, Landon and I were on our first big road trip together. We’re headed to Iowa to see my folks and the rest of the relatives. It’s very late and I’ve done all the driving thus far. Landon has been a very fussy baby since birth. (It would be months before his pediatrician discovered that he is allergic to milk, eggs, beef, chocolate, nuts and probably more) Being in the car helps. He’s hardly made a peep. We’re on I-80, cruising west, close to where we’ll hang a big right to I-29 North and head to Sioux City. Landon’s starting to grunt and squirm in his seat, while Ari’s sound asleep. Shannon said he needs to be changed and fed, so I pull into a rest stop. I’m beat. I stayed in the car with Ari, who’s still cutting z’s.
It’s dark and windy. I can see the trees swaying against the sky. If I just close my eyes for a few minutes, I’ll be ok. One of those quicky power naps. A few minutes later, Shannon and Landon plop in the front passenger seat. I’m dozing, it’s cozy and Landon is stating his rather strong case. If there is not a mommy nipple nearby in the next 30 seconds, there will be hell to pay. And by the sound of him, we’ll be continuing this trip without the benefit of any windows. Sudden silence, absolute quiet. Then huge nursing gulp-gulp-gulp sounds as he tries to catch up with the milk. One-of-thee-most-touching-moments-in-my-life! In the dark, eyes closed, parked car, middle of the night and the most wonderful sounds of a little grandson contentedly nursing. Really it doesn’t get any better than this. I’ve lost a lot of my hearing in the last 15 years. Thanks God for letting me hear those awesome, vivid, poignant sounds that night.
|Landon, 9 months, 2001…|
It’s fair to say Landon has spent quite a bit of time growing up in a gym since he was about 2. He’d get picked up by Tracey from daycare, later pre-school and join gangly, sweaty high school jocks, running drills, shooting free throws, defense, blocks, all the rest of that basketball lingo stuff. Shannon was working in Lansing, but they had moved to Jackson. Daddy was in charge of a lot of the hauling around of Landon and Ari. After Landon was old enough, maybe 2-1/2 to understand that he could not run out onto the court during games, he often sat on the bench with the team. Sometimes he went on the team bus. He was a tiny gym rat. Scared me spitless after games, especially an away game. When the final buzzer sounded, invariably some reporter would snag Tracey to get some quotes on the game for the paper. Landon would be on the court too, running around near Daddy, but neither paying very close attention. Landon would be saying “hi” to different players, or people and always trying find a loose basketball to shoot. But let’s face it, Daddy’s head was still in the game. I was petrified with fear, trying to keep an eye on Landon, talking to Shannon, finding Ari’s suitcase of stuff she always brought along. So afraid he’d get lost or worse snatched. Grandma, the worry-wort.
|Landon, 18 months, 2002…|
One day while I was visiting, Landon challenged me to a game of HORSE outside. He was 3. Regulation height basketball hoop out on the driveway. I think he had an H and I had H.O.R.S. when I made an unbelievable shot. Landon comes running over to me, slaps me on the ass, and says, “Dude, great shot!” Daddy had been watching, pulled the little stinker aside to explain we don’t slap grandma’s butt, basketball style, ever. Too funny. It’s what he was used to seeing and doing. You make a great shot, the high praise between players, and coaches is a swat on the butt. To him, I was just another player, a lousy one, but still deserving a swat.
|Landon 4, 2004…|
Shannon and Tracey were both busy until after supper, so I was picking 3 year old Landon up from Montesorri pre-school. After I got him in his car seat, and we were on the way home, I asked him if he learned anything in school today? “We learned bout colors grandma.” “Really, can you tell me some different colors?” “Um, yes. Mommy is a white color. And Daddy is a brown color. And you grandma are a tan color, just like me!” Neatest thing he’s ever said. The highest compliment he could ever give me. I should explain that if I (and I do, my bad) sit out in the sun for a couple hours in the spring, I’m about the same shade as this precious kid. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Yup, he had his colors nailed.
Got to tell you a little bit about his name. I love the name Landon. It fits him. Trouble is they stopped calling him Landon when he was about 4. Almost positive it was Tracey who started it. And I think he was the one that fought so hard for name Landon in the first place. He started calling him “Drew.” Soon teachers, friends and family were calling him Drew. It’s the way he signs his homework. Everyone calls him Drew but this grandma. And I like the name Drew, really. But then why didn’t you name him Drew? He was and always will be Landon to me. I get some mighty freaky looks from students and parents in the stands when I’m screaming about a great 3-pointer, pass, or assist he just completed. No one understands why I’m the only one calling him by the wrong name. Maybe I’ll get used to Drew, but it’s been almost a decade and it’s still Landon that rolls off my tongue.
Tracey had agreed to coach some summer basketball camps at Spring Arbor College. Landon (Drew to the rest of the free world) was about 7 and tagged along with Dad daily to camp. The kids participating in camp were in junior high. Guess who won the free shooting contest for the whole camp that week? Yup, second grader Landon. He’s got some moves.
|6 yr old Drew to the rest of the world, 2006…|
I’m starting to have panic attacks about next winter. No, for once, not really about the weather. Pretty sure Landon will either make the junior varsity or more likely, the high school varsity basketball team. If this house hasn’t sold by then, I’ll be making twice weekly trips across the state to watch his games. I think he needs the support of his grandma who knows his real name. He recently started playing with a team in Cleveland, Ohio, sponsored by Lebron James and Nike. It’s a 3-1/2 hour drive from Jackson that either Tracey, Shannon or both make once a month. He’s really that good. At school he plays on the junior high team this year. A couple weeks ago, I called Shannon and told her we were going to one of his out of town games. She said it couldn’t be a better choice. Both she and Tracey had commitments, and Landon would be happy his grandparents were there. I promised I’d text some updates to both of them. Shannon was guest speaker at a college that night. Wonder how those constant texts went over? As John and I walked through the gym doors, long before Landon’s game, he comes running over in his dress pants, shirt and sweater. Now taller than me, he gives me a big hug. Every single time I get a hug from him, especially in public, I’m almost in tears. I would rate that feeling right up there with Iowa-rest-area-big-gulps-14-years-ago. Hope those hugs don’t stop for a long time…
|Handsome, sweet Landon 14…|
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Landon, from birth to H.S. in one post, no less.