Tag Archives: Darnell

Countdown to Kianna

Marking the days off the calendar: 15, 14, 13, 12 …

In a dozen days, give or take a few, the Darnell and Kishia Brown home in Jefferson City will never be the same again. Not only are they going to see me and Kelly more frequently, but the real change will come in the form of a literal bundle of joy named Kianna Allene. I told Kishia as recently as Sunday that she has the green light to lead me to the front door when I become too overbearing.

It might come to that. (It’s not likely Kelly will wear out her welcome).

Kishia wasn’t quite a full day old on Feb. 27, 1985, when we took her home from St. Marys Health Center in Jefferson City. Kelly had slept a little bit the night before and I’d gone home to Belle, smoking a cigar on the way. Seemed like the thing to do.

I vividly recall the very moment that the full force of parenthood slammed into me. (Something tells me Kelly already had that figured out). As we motored south along Highway 63, Kelly and I chatted as if for a moment nothing had changed. Then suddenly I glanced in the back seat to see a baby in a car seat. We were in Westphalia, just past the convenience store on the right.

We had a baby. In an instant I felt panic and a great sense of uncertainty: I had no idea what to do. Then a different realization swept the fear away. Look what we had done!

We had a baby!

Kishia sings to her new baby sister, Natasha, in March 1987. Kishia was eager to impress her sister. I can report that she moved past that stage a long, long time ago.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #25

Be bold. Live boldly. Have confidence. Be the kind of person who brings out the very best in others. Expect the best from yourself, but have plenty of grace for yourself  – and others – when they disappoint you.

How do you learn bold yet humble confidence? Simple.

Always work your crossword puzzles with an ink pen, not a pencil.

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Doug C. and the Belle Drive-In

Countdown to Kianna

Seventeen. 18. 17. 16, 15, 14, 13 days away from the “scheduled” appearance of Kianna Allene Brown. And by “scheduled,” I mean planned, outlined and diagrammed – I’m not sure there could be more deliberate planning for a couple’s first child.

Check the Journal on Thursday when guest blogger and mom-to-be Kishia shares her heart and her own message to Kianna.

Kelly and I attended Sunday morning services yesterday with Kishia and Darnell, and when Kishia raced her hubby to our car after a powerful time of worship, I was astonished.

“What are you doing?” I asked my 8 1/2 –month pregnant daughter.

Her winded reply: “I’m tryin’ to get this baby out of here.”

Songs of the Seventies

Journal note: Mondays are dedicated to a memoir-in-progress journey back to the 70s. For the next four weeks, I’m sharing a 2,000-plus word story – in four installments – that weaves songs of the 70s and one particular 1980 hit with a look back at my encounters with Doug C. while I worked at the Belle Drive-In.

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The written record, etched in time

Countdown to Kianna

Eighteen days, 17, 16, 15, 14 — two weeks until Feb. 19, the date that Kianna Allene Brown is set to arrive.

Kelly — Grammy — finished sewing two mattress covers for Baby Kianna on Saturday, so it’s time. After we attend church with Kishia and Darnell this morning at One in Christ Baptist Church in Jefferson City, maybe we can have a little lunch and then drive to Boone Hospital to get little Kianna delivered.

Sure. Good plan.

The written record(s)

I love my job as a news reporter for the Columbia Daily Tribune. Thirty years ago when I started in this profession, I reacted to my byline with a reaction of, “How cool! My name’s in the paper. I wrote that article.”

The ego-boosting property of one or more daily bylines isn’t what it used to be, but I’m still amazed that I get to go to work every day as a reporter. I barely have two years of college on my resume’ and it’s that lack of formal education, among other things, that often leaves me feeling like I don’t belong. I still smile almost every time I walk through the Tribune doors. I can’t believe I get to make a living doing what I hoped I’d be doing when I was 13.

Before that I was planning to attend college at Arizona State University – probably on a baseball scholarship (of course) – and pursue the love of the first decade and three years of my life: Reptiles. ASU is the college Reggie Jackson attended before embarking on a Hall of Fame baseball career, but more than that, ASU at the time had the nation’s preeminent herpetology program.

Seriously. I was sure I was born to be a herpetologist – a reptile scientist. (Not “reptilian” scientist, like the aliens in “V.” But that would have been cool, too). I’d probably specialize in snakes and lizards. Besides, I was already on my way to “expert” status with all the snakes and/or lizards I’d already captured, studied, fed and been bitten by.

Eventually, though, I realized there was one problem.

Math.

The prerequisites for admission to the Arizona State herpetology program included all the advanced math and science that was available on the planet, which meant that most of those courses weren’t available at Maries County R-2 High School in Belle, Mo. I was a “B” student in algebra 1 and 2, and geometry, but I had to absolutely bust my hump to get that grade.

Nothing else in high school – with the exception of my principal – gave me as much grief as math. Time for trig and calculus?

See ya.

And that’s basically how I ended up a journalist. I figured I wouldn’t need advanced math for this profession and – sorry, Mr. Fann – I was right. Anyway, it worked out pretty well. Not that many jobs out there for herpetologists, I suppose.

Last night I shuffled through a Rubbermaid tub of old newspapers and clips with my byline. I’ve been a reporter, stringer, sports writer or editor for: The Belle Banner (my hometown newspaper, including sister papers The Bland Courier and the Maries County Gazette-Advisor in Vienna); The Muleskinner (campus paper at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg); the Gasconade County Republican weekly newspaper in Owensville; the Post-Tribune and Daily Capital News, evening and morning editions of the Jefferson City News Tribune; South Callaway Courier weekly newspaper in Holts Summit, which eventually became the twice-weekly Callaway Courier and then the daily Callaway Courier, and then back to the weekly Courier – mostly with a three-person staff; the Fulton Sun; Hannibal Courier-Post; Mexico Ledger; Quincy Herald-Whig; California Democrat; Centralia Fireside Guard; my own Northern Boone County Bullseye, which published 202 editions before “expiring” in September 2008; and the Columbia Daily Tribune. Countless bylines attached to articles picked up by The Associated Press have appeared from coast to coast.

That makes me almost laugh out loud with glee. I can’t believe I’ve been able to do this for a living. It makes me think of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer is mistaken for an employee at a big company until finally he writes a business report and the boss says something like, “This stinks. It’s as if you have no business training at all.”

I keep waiting for someone (besides an angry reader) to tell me that.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #23

The birds have been singing a little more loudly the past few mornings. I keep bird seed available in a couple of feeders, one of which gets raided by the squirrels. I can’t wait for you to discover things like squirrels and birds and earthworms and crickets and the hidden world of creatures that lives in the grass in your own backyard.

We’ll look through a telescope into the cosmos. We’ll grow our own paramecium and look at them under a microscope.

There’s so much to hear, see, feel, taste and smell. (Note to Grandpa: there’s another story entirely about “smell.” Maybe later. Right, Kishia?)

It’s gonna be GREAT!

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Snowpocalypse revisited

Last year, Feb. 1, 2011, was the first actual blizzard I’ve ever experienced. The massive snowstorm ranked No. 5 on my list of lifetime weather events and sparked the birth of Jackson’s Journal.

There had been one earlier post with a rather ironic title, considering it was a month before the next post — the blizzard-inspired list of my all-time lifetime weather events — and then a 10-month lapse in posts until a certain pregnancy put me in grandpa-in-waiting mode. (The Journal’s December rebirth led to the Countdown to Kianna that began Jan. 12, and the blog has lived every day since).

On Feb. 1, 2012, the temperature was 55. Today’s high could reach 60. But one year ago today, this was Chris Drive after the snow and wind finally headed east.

Countdown to Kianna

Twenty, 19, 18, 17 days to go until both Kishia and Kianna can stretch as much as they want to. Seventeen days — give or take a few days or hours, depending on the whims of gestation, labor and delivery — until Darnell gets to hold his baby girl. (I mean his littlest, newborn baby girl).

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #20

It’s you.

A few days ago, master blogger/Christian writer Jeff Goins triggered a tsunami of epiphanies in my head with some rather paradoxical advice: If you want to write to a larger crowd, be more specific. 

I never thought of it like that, but his brilliant ideas are spot-on profound, kind of like the few words of advice you get after climbing a high peak to speak with a mystical elder. And this is how Jeff’s post ends:

“So write for that one person for whom this will matter. Give her a name, if you like. Put her picture on your desktop. Write for her and only her. She will appreciate it — trust me.”

Of course! I didn’t know it, but that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve already been writing for “that one person.” Sure, my mom — one of your Great-Grandmas — waits patiently for the actual completion and publication of my first novel, and I think of her often when I’m tinkering with words and crafting stories. She taught me to love words, reading and books. And Kelly — your Grammy (Mrs. Grandpa) — has been the actual focus of hundreds of stories, columns and poems through the years. I also share ownership of my bylines, blog posts and word-crafting with your mommy, Kishia, and her sister, Auntie Tasha, because their hopes, dreams, heartbreak and struggles have always been part of my heart.

But now who is “that one person for whom this will matter?”

It’s you, Kianna.

It’s you.

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Countdown to Kianna …

Twenty-two, 21, 20 … 19 days away from the most celebratory yet sacred introductions: Kianna, meet your parents, Darnell and Kishia. And meet your grandparents: Grandpa and Grammy. (You’ll probably call Grammy “Mrs. Grandpa.”) 

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #18: Your Grammy and I haven’t always been Grammy and Grandpa. We were once Mommy and Daddy; foster dad and foster mom; just plain ol’ husband and wife; and before that — classmates. We go back a ways. Eighth grade, to be exact — both of us experiencing the divorce of our parents that year.

We’ve been through some stuff, both before we got married and after we said “I do,” which happened two months before my 19th birthday. (Note to Kianna and ALL readers: don’t get married that young. It worked for us, but only because Kelly’s/Grammy’s capacity for grace is deeper than the combined oceans in the universe).

Your mommy, Kishia, lit up our lives three years after our “I do’s,” and then a couple of years later your Auntie Natasha began filling our lives with her songs. Grammy remembers me telling her how I was so afraid that my kids wouldn’t like me. I was the baby of my family; I had no experience with little kids, except for the ever-present, energetic little kid in me.

But I think I did OK as a daddy.

For some reason I don’t have that same worry when it comes to grandfatherhood. I am so ready for this.

I’m betting you’ll like me a lot.

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Songs of the Seventies …

Countdown to Kianna

Twenty three, 22, 21, 20 days until I get to tell Kishia and Darnell’s beautiful newborn, “Hi, sweet Princess Kianna. I’m Grandpa.”

Memoir-in-Progress: The 70s

From June 1979 to October 1980 — from the summer after my sophomore year in high school to the fall of my senior year — I was a server and later assistant manager of the Belle Drive-In. Don’t get all excited thinking it was a movie theater (which would have been cool). It was a greasy-spoon, fast-food eatery and pinball/pool hall of sorts.

My starting wage was $1/hour. When I was promoted to assistant manager, my wage ballooned to a buck-fifty an hour.

Woo-hoo.

Besides having access to all the Coke I could drink and all the nasty cheeseburgers I could eat, the only real perk was that after closing time on Sunday night, my boss, E.J. Banks, emptied the quarters out of the pinball machines and the jukebox, but left the machines open for me to play to my heart’s content.

Imagine my glee when he acquired the Drive-In’s first video game: Space Invaders.

Nothing takes me back to that time more than the music, so I offer one of my all-time favorites: “Babe” (Styx, 1979).

http://youtu.be/jKbIBb1Z6Z0

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #17: Some people have wondered whether I’ll run out of messages for you. I scoff at those people. Just ask your mom or Mrs. Grandpa: There’s never a time when I have nothing to say.

See you soon!

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Singing all four verses … a capella

Time for Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting, but first a reminder that the Countdown to Kianna is at day 25. I’ll have a word for my first granddaughter in a few minutes. For now, it’s time to revisit one of the antiques in my storehouse of memories: Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting.

I’ve mentioned previously that I developed somewhat of a fondness for Sunday night and Wednesday night church services — or at least I have fond memories. Those services were typically less structured, less rigid and not as formal as the Sunday morning service. We had printed bulletins on Sunday morning that listed which hymns to sing, who was “bringing the special,” and who was preaching, reading scripture and things like that.

But often on Sunday night and always on Wednesday night, the hymns weren’t pre-selected and listed. The music leader would ask for requests. The older folks naturally requested older hymns and, on the off-chance that the pianist wasn’t familiar with the song, we’d sing it a capella, assuming that at least one or two folks knew it well enough to get it started. Remarkably, those non-instrument numbers were typically on-key.

I think that’s where I learned to love dozens of old hymns. By the time I reached my mid-teens, I occasionally had the opportunity to lead the singing on a Sunday or Wednesday night. I preferred an a capella approach and was even known to break one of the oldest, unwritten rules of Baptistdom: Sing the first, second and last verse of the hymn. I’d say, “All four (or five) verses.”

I was a rebel even then. All four verses; no piano.

So we’ll wrap up Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting with a hymn — a capella, of course — and a more modern tune.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

The Potter’s Hand (Darlene Zschech and Hillsong. The audio and video are barely out of synch; be sure to turn up the volume. Enjoy.)

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #12 …

You’ve got a rich musical heritage. Your mommy can sing beautifully, even though she won’t admit it. I can’t wait to hear your voice. Everyone in my family and on my side of the family plays one or more instruments. It’s been a while since we’ve had some brass.

In case you’re wondering, Grandpa really likes the sound of a French horn. But we also need a percussionist. How about a drum set?

I’m sure your daddy will let you set it up in his man cave. Right, Darnell?

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Countdown to Kianna …

Thirty, 29, 28 days from today, Sunday, Jan. 22 — assuming the gestational calculations are correct and that she cooperates with said calculations — Kianna Allene Brown will grace Creation with her smile. The arrival date is Sunday, Feb. 19.

When Kianna’s mom, Kishia, was born on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 1985, we’d been watching the Grammy Awards and timing contractions. (Grammy Awards not to be confused with Grammy — the grandparent monicker Kelly prefers — which is why I think Mrs. Grandpa will be less confusing). The awards show that night was a big coming out solo act for Tina Turner. Her song, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” was the song of the year. Watch a recording of that performance here.

Ironic name for a song that Tina Turner belted out just before a nurse wheeled Kelly into the delivery room for the big moment to end 20 hours of labor. It’s possible — just possible — that maybe Kelly said some things that made it sound as if I was entirely to blame for her discomfort.

(Note to Darnell: Sometimes a woman in the throes of labor might say threatening things that she normally wouldn’t say at any other time. It might sound as if the continued or future use of specific body parts could be in question. YOUR body parts. Considering that Kishia is A LOT like her mom, you’ll want to keep that in mind. And whatever you do, do NOT say something like, “Baby, if I could, I’d trade places with you right now.” I repeat: Do NOT say that.)

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #10 …

Mrs. Grandpa and I made sugar cookies today for your baby shower this coming Saturday. You’d be proud of me — I ate only two. Someday we’ll eat sugar cookies together. (Shhh. We probably shouldn’t tell your mom and dad — or Mrs. Grandpa).

Later, after the cookie-baking was complete, Grammy — I mean, Mrs. Grandpa — came into the spare bedroom to interrupt my NFL playoff viewing to announce that she’s decided how to decorate the room for “the grandkids.”

It’s a really good idea, but I’m gonna keep it a secret for now. I’ll let that be something Grammy tells you about. Of course, I’ll have to be sure the new room decor won’t interfere with future football-viewing. In fact, you and I will watch some games together in there, just remember to pretend that you don’t really like football. That will make Mrs. Grandpa very happy. You can tell her that you’re watching it because Grandpa is watching, and that whatever Grandpa watches is really cool because, well, Grandpa is really cool.

Note to Kishia and Darnell: Grammy did say “grandkids,” as in plural, more than one. Just sayin’.

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Countdown to Kianna

We’re at 32 days and counting.

Grandparent-hood is just around the corner when Kianna Allene Brown finally matches faces with those voices that have been coddling and connecting with her the last several months. Despite the sleepless nights ahead and the overwhelming worry that comes with that first fever or rash, I’m sure Kianna’s mommy, Kishia — our first-born — will be MUCH more comfortable when she can also finally see her first baby’s face. I get all sloppy emotional just thinking about that first eye-to-eye contact.

It won’t be long, Kishia. Hang in there. Darnell, that cuddle with Kianna will be even more amazing that you’re now imagining.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #6:

Hard as I try, sometimes I just can’t think of something profound to say. After all, I think about you 23 hours and 59 minutes a day. (I do have to work and sleep some). I once heard a pastor tell a man that the best way to be a father was to love his children’s mother, and that the best way for a woman to be a mother was to love her husband.

Not sure if that will make sense to you anytime soon, but what it means is you’ve got incredible parents.

Wednesday night “prayer meeting”

I get a lot of mileage out of joking about Southern Baptist life, about the white-and-homogenous character of the churches I grew up in, and about some of the traditions and customs of growing up as a preacher’s kid.

I’m sure I went literally kicking and screaming at times, but I didn’t miss many services when I was growing up. There was Sunday morning Sunday School and then the worship service, and another dose Sunday evening with what we called Training Union (it was Sunday night Sunday School, except people wore blue jeans and neckties were rare), followed by Sunday night service. I’m not sure where and how the tradition of Wednesday night Prayer Meeting got started, but the mid-week service was more optional than the others.

Somewhere along the way I’ll explain what I loved about the Sunday night and mid-week prayer meeting services. Prayer meeting was what it sounds like. There was lots of praying. Wednesday night was the only time there was a “season of prayer,” where everyone who wanted to took a turn. Wednesday night attendance was sparse, but it was kind of like the varsity members of the church.

I’m going to revisit Wednesday night prayer meeting right here on Wednesdays, so I hope I don’t lose those of you who follow this blog religiously. (Pun intended).

One of the best memories of Sunday night and Wednesday night services was the music. Someone would break out the old Broadman hymnals and maybe the singing was a cappella. And sometimes, when I reached my teens years, I got to lead the singing. To this day I love old hymns as much as I love barbecue ribs.

Here’s an oldie, followed by a contemporary praise song. Click and sing along if you’d like. And let me know which hymns/songs you’d like to see me post.

“He Leadeth Me,” sung by The Martins. If the key change at 2:25 doesn’t give you goose bumps, you’re not paying attention.

http://youtu.be/c_yQeuo7auw

“Breathe,” from a live performance by Michael W. Smith.

http://youtu.be/XgUAvMyclbU

If you get the urge, feel free to raise your hands in worship. Some Baptists do that nowadays. I do it. But if you did that back in the day during a Wednesday night prayer meeting, you’d probably get mentioned often during that “season of prayer.”

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Another ‘lost in song’ moment

Countdown to Kianna: 37, 36, 35 days away …

I promised myself “no more nostalgia” for my next post. I even told Kelly, “I need to lighten up.” After all, I’ve got some serious novel-writing beckoning me, shouting for attention. I need to get busy and introduce you to Cole Davenport, Jamie Light, Edna Mae Ferguson, Noodle Garrison, Ron Koppelmann, and even Hannah Abigail Lincoln (derisively referred to as “Honest Abe” by her intimidated underlings).

Those are just a few of the characters from “Chasing The Devil,” the fiction novel I want to have completely finished by the time Kianna is born. Quick side note: All characters in “Devil” are fictional — even the newspaper reporter, Cole Davenport — but Ron Koppelmann is based on the real Ron Koppelmann, a cop I once spent a lot of time with during my early days as a weekly newspaper reporter. In fact, I got an email today from my old friend Ron, who tells me he’s “honored” to be a character in my first novel.

Instead, I felt like sharing a song, so I went to my “Holy Rollin’ Tunes” file on YouTube and browsed some new entries: “Til the Storm Passes By,” my favorite southern gospel song; “My Redeemer Lives,” the recording of a live performance by Nicole C. Mullin (can’t wait to introduce Kianna to her music), and then Nichole Nordeman’s “I Am.”

What were the chances that I’d run across THIS recording with THESE illustrations?

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #4:

This is for you, and your mom, and your daddy, Darnell.

http://youtu.be/YeUuF3fE9iQ

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