Tuesday, May 19, 2009

J's Birthday!

Today marks the 6th anniversary of my becoming a grandparent. Yes, my little clutch of grandchildren now features a 6 year old as the leader of the pack. (One disclaimer, before I go on, I became a step grandma in 2006, when MonkeyGirl and Mr. MonkeyGirl wed, and thus she became the stepmom for a TEENAGER! He's now going on 19.)

Since 2003, it seemed like we had news about another grandchild quite often. In fact, 5 have been born in those short years. But Mr. J was the first.

What a beautiful child he was, blonde hair, blue eyes, manly features of a square jaw (a combination of mom and dad's feature), a sweet disposition. Grandma could hardly wait to get her hands on him! I guess we saw him when he was about 3 weeks old. He was precious. He allowed Grandma to lull him to sleep on her chest, there is no sweeter moment than to have your firstborn grandchild sharing a naptime with you, snuggled all close and warm.

J was scheduled to be baptized when he was about 6 weeks old. Well before J's birthdate, maybe even before we learned of the upcoming blessed event, a friend of mine and I had planned a long road trip out west to Yellowstone National Park. When the baptism was planned, it overlaped our trip. So, we worked it out that we would see J on our way out west, and then come back a week later for his baptism. Seemed to work out OK.

My friend and I had been planning this trip since the previous fall. She saved her money, and bought a beautiful slightly used minivan for the trip. It was very roomy and comfortable. We could have taken my SUV, but decided her new car would be the way to go. Funny thing happened on our way out west, lights started blinking, gears started protesting, and by the time we had made it all the way to Yellowstone, her beautiful van was down to only 2 gears that worked, low and very low. We somehow limped into Jackson Hole Wyoming, and got the bad news from the Ford dealer--it would be a new transmission or stick your thumb out to get home.

Ouch! She didn't have the money to fix her vehicle, now 14 days out of warranty. It would take 2-3 weeks to send the transmission to Salt Lake City and get it back. We had no idea how to tow it back to the midwest to get it fixed near to home. And J's baptism day loomed ever closer!

Now, if you have ever been in Jackson Hole Wy, you will know that public transportation in and out of there consists only of air travel. A one way air ticket out of Jackson Hole would have cost the 4 of us $3600, and then we still wouldn't be all the way home! We could rent a car one way to Salt Lake City (another 400 miles further west) and then get a train, plane or rental car to get home. But, then we would miss J's baptism for sure! To me, one thing was a possibility--purchase a new vehicle and drive away into the sunset (or sunrise as the case really was.) I was getting ready to sell my current SUV, so why wouldn't this work?

Well, in consulting with the financial genius at home, his first reaction was a very loud "NO"! I remember it as somewhat of a cry of anguish. But in the next breath, he said "yes". Very quietly, but he knew it was inevitable. And somehow he saw the wisdom of my decision. Or the inevitability of it, at least!

So, I set about buying the most gorgeous, most luxurious vehicle I've ever owned (most expensive also). And I think I did OK on the deal. It was a forest green Eddie Bauer Expedition, with DVD player, every kind of bell and whistle, heated and cooled seats. And wonderful comfort! Every seat laid back, so you could sleep in the back as well as the front. And you pushed a button, and the third seat arose from under the floor in back.

I was dealing with a young salesman, who maybe had sold 2 cars before he encountered me as a customer. I guess word got out that I was an easy mark, so they let him have a go at me! He was very personable, and quite pleasant to work with. As you know, all the newbie car salesmen have to consult with "their managers" before they can strike a deal. So, he conferred with his manager, and they worked this fabulous deal as our first talking point. They would actually knock off $1000 off the price of a $46,000 vehicle with 6000 miles on it--wow, I was underwhelmed. So, I told him this, "You either are taking advantage of me because of my situation, or you don't want to sell a car today" As I turned to walk out (having no real options other than this), he ran after me--"NO, NO, NO, JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK IS A FAIR DEAL!" Well, I was rather unprepared to come up with a real number, so I knocked about 8% off the price and laid my offer on the table. He went to the manager, and they said "OK". Wow, that was easy! So that meant I probably spent too much, but we were running out of time and needed to make some travel plans. AND QUICKLY!

They prepped the car and delivered it the next day. While they were prepping it, we rented a car, and spent another night near Yellowstone. We drove to the north entrance, where the historical Yellowstone National Park sign is, snooped around that neck of the woods for a while, then came back through the park to Jackson Hole to pick up our new ride.

On our way through the park, a fawn the size of a small dog ran in front of my rental car, and I hit it. The wierd thing was, we were in a long convoy of cars going about 30 miles an hour--why did the fawn decide at that moment to cross the road? He wasn't killed, only stunned, but I had to get him off the road. People behind us were hissing and booing at me for hitting the fawn--but he just jumped out in front of our car! You know how rental car people are when they hear "I hit a deer" in their cars. I swore my 2 teenage passengers to keep their mouths shut as we left the rental car place under pain of death, or leaving them by the roadside sitting on a suitcase!

We picked up the new vehicle at 4 p.m. that afternoon, and had about 1000 miles to drive to get to J's baptism. We had to cross Wyoming, Nebraska and half of Iowa to get to our destination. It was an all-nighter for sure. Our 2 back seat passengers had comfy beds and a TV. We had to stop at an all night Wal-Mart in eastern Wyoming to buy them more DVD's! My friend and I shared the driving tasks. After 2 hours of sleep, I was driving in the 3-6 a.m. shift. I started seeing ghosts on the road. My driving companion works overnight at the nursing home, and thrives on small amounts of sleep, so I had to ask her to drive. We rolled on and on, and got to J's hometown about an hour before his baptism. We checked into our motel, got a quick shower and a couple of ZZZ's and were off to the church. We made it, and saw J become a Child of God!

On one of our pit stops, I purchased a Wyoming keychain (you know, with the cowboy on the bucking horse, as Wyoming's license plate has on it). It had my spouses name on it. I gave it to my financial genius as a gift, with the keys to the new ride attached. We'll never forget our trip, our souvenier, and our little boy J, who got a fantastic baptismal gift, a new SUV for his grandma!

OH, by the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, J! My big six year old grandson! I will always have a good story to tell you about your baptism, like no other story I've ever lived, or ever will!

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