Dot and Jim Latham would’ve made outstanding grandparents.

They certainly were surrogates in that capacity to a host of great-nieces and great-nephews…even a couple great-greats. Lord have mercy, they were good at it, too.

Momma played dolls with Deana and Chinese checkers with Jeff; pushed Jabo and Donnie’s Wayne on the swing set; put puzzles together with Chan; fixed snacks with Ida Marie, Brenda, and Tracey; taught Matt and Whitney how to make dirt pudding.

Tim’s Wayne, Misty, and Amber moved up north when they were very young…they might not even remember Momma. But she would look at their pictures in the photo album wistfully – “I hope those babies are doing good.”

When Scott showed up to visit Momma at BMC Shelby in early 2002, he was sporting a multihued mohawk – “Scott, don’t you let nobody tell you different. Your hair is beautiful like that.”

Of course, that could’ve been the hospital psychosis talking.

And Daddy…shoot…how many miles did Daddy make on his riding mower hauling those kids in the cart behind? You would’ve thought they were on an E ticket ride in Orlando. (If you’re too young to know about E ticket rides…well…Google it).

Best of all, though, Daddy also had a trick up his sleeve…no, really…up his actual sleeve.

See, Daddy lost his left arm just below the shoulder in 1955. Momma would cut the left sleeves off most of his shirts to just below the end of his nub and sew the openings closed – even the t-shirts he’d wear with his Liberty overalls.

Well, as you can imagine, the kids were mesmerized by that missing arm.

But, y’all, when Daddy made that nub dance and wiggle in that sleeve…well, every one of them would giggle up a storm.

Except for Gary’s Sarah first time she met Daddy. That poor little four-year-old screamed up a storm instead…there was no calming her down. By the time Daddy died, though, she had become a beautiful young woman and the two of them thought each other hung the moon.

But, still.

I imagine they had hoped to have the opportunity to be grandparents for their own children’s children…descendants with their DNA.

There aren’t any.

I’m perfectly at peace with not being a father.

But I declare I’ve loved knowing the thousands of students…my “kids”…who became part of my life and set up housekeeping in my heart over these past thirty-two years. And, yes, I’ve been around long enough to have taught grand-students.

Aubrey, though, was blessed with three children one day almost ten years ago…no triple immaculate conception or anything.

The day he married Patricia, her three grown young’ns became his, too. (By the way, the only steps we talk about in our family are the ones going into the house…or the ones to make Momma’s cornbread dressing.)

He also became Paw Paw that same day, a joy he has experienced a few more times since then as new children of God have been born into the family.

Aubrey’s children and his grandchildren love him and respect him.

He has a passel of grands…look at these two. See the little girl on his left? That’s Jacklyn.

And the rounder wearing the little orange shirt? Well….

That’s Little Aubrey.

Steve Latham – May 8, 2017


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