Tag Archives: Kianna

Childbirth and an epic snowstorm: This date in history

Feb. 26, 1984. The weather forecast was for a chance of flurries and a high of 34. A couple of hours before dawn that Sunday morning the snow started falling. By the time the big wet flakes stopped around mid-day Tuesday, the result was (and still is) the most significant snow event of my lifetime. (No. 2 on my list of lifetime all-time weather events). Snowfall totals ranged from 24 inches in Maries County to 34 inches in Gasconade County.

Ten-foot drifts (I have photos) shut down Highway 63 at the Rolla Airport at Vichy. Not that it mattered, because Highway 28 between Belle and Vichy was impassable for two days. Power went in and out, but the temperature never dropped much below freezing. Otherwise the snow event would probably have been deadly as well as deep.

At that time Kelly and I were on-site caretakers for a 350-acre cattle farm — Pine Corners — in southern Gasconade County off Elk  Head Road. We managed to get to Belle (about 10 miles away) before everything was completely impassable, and it was three days before we were able to return, but only with the aid of a nearby farmer and his tractor. The drifts were consistently knee to waist-high. On our return to Pine Corners and the long, difficult trudge to the barn, we discovered that several of the cows had successfully calved.

Feb. 26, 1985. That night, Kelly gave birth to Kishia Chantel, our first-born, at St. Mary’s Health Center in Jefferson City. We instantly became rich beyond our wildest dreams. Kishia. Our baby.

Kelly had been in labor the better part of four days. I gently lowered Kishia into a warm bath. Kelly, completely exhausted, asked if Kishia had “all 10 fingers, all 10 ‘toeses’ and all 10 noses?”

“She’s perfect,” I said. “Only one nose.”

“That’s good,” Kelly said, mustering all the energy she had.

 Later, in the wee hours of Feb. 27, I drove home to Belle and smoked — or tried to smoke — a celebratory cigar.

I very nearly caught myself on fire. While I was driving.

Happy Birthday, Kishia!

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Kianna: ‘Follow your heart’

GUEST POST by Natasha Jackson

My sister, Kishia, just had her baby on Wednesday. It was an INCREDIBLE day. Here’s my letter to the sweet little princess … my precious niece. (Letter originally appeared on my blog, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.”)

Kianna,
 
If anyone in the family could describe me in one word, they’d probably say I’m a “butterfly.” I’m not known for staying in one place for too long. I go where the wind goes. And what is that wind? That’s the Lord, hopefully, that I’m following! I feel like about 98 percent of the time my decisions are based on God’s leading. I gotta leave some room for error. I’m human.

But my personality, too, is very much of a butterfly. I love going from place to place to learn new things, and teach people things. My goal is to show the love of Christ to anyone God puts in my path. Sometimes, I don’t do the best job of that ‑ but I sure do try. Sometimes I miss it, even though I don’t mean to.
 
With that being said, I haven’t been known to be around the family as much as most. Generally when family get-together’s happen, I’m off on a mission trip or women’s retreat that I’m either leading or attending. I haven’t given much attention over the past few years to family. Part of that is because I live further away than any of the others in our family. But I’ve decided over the past year or so to not let the miles be an excuse anymore.
 
Just two months ago, your Great-Great-Grandma Nola went to go be with Jesus. We all wanted so much for you to meet her. But I’m sure that you two already knew each other. If people have guardian angels, I’m sure that she is yours. Just like all of us, she loved you so much before you were born. Even when she couldn’t remember anything because she was so sick, she remembered you.

The pain of Granny Nola leaving this world is still very fresh. But, Kianna, you have helped ease that pain. When I saw your face just moments after you were born, something in my heart changed. As I held you, I wanted nothing more than to make you smile. I can’t wait to get to know you.
 
So this is my promise to you, Sweet Princess: I will be there for you. I have had some great examples as to how to be a really good aunt. And I plan on even surpassing those examples! I don’t know where the wind is going to blow me next. I don’t know what God has in store for me in my next season of life. I might be miles away from you, but I won’t let that keep me from you. And I promise to be there for your mommy and daddy, too. I haven’t done the best job at that either. But that’s going to change.
 
You are already the sweetest little girl. I can’t wait to see how you change the world ‑ because you’ll change it just by being yourself! Don’t try to be anyone else, because you are incredible. I can tell you from many, many examples and stories in my own life that you should feel free to follow your dreams. No dreams are silly. So go with it.

Follow your heart.

I can’t wait to see what you teach all of us. And I can’t wait to tell you about the adventures I’ve had in my life.
 
You are truly the most beautiful little girl that I have ever seen. And I can’t wait to see you grow into a stunning little lady!

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Kianna’s story: Day 3 …

Relax. I’m not starting a daily recap of The Life of Kianna Allene Brown, although I’m sure my digital Journal here will occasionally offer incredible tales and recaps of milestone moments of her life – at least until she figures out what’s going on here and she learns to say, “Now Grandpa, don’t quote me on that.”

I’m not changing my focus because I have something better to write about, but the inspiration this little princess has poured into my heart will now be channeled toward completing two other works-in-progress, my unfinished novels “Chasing the Devil” and “Gone.” Jackson’s Journal, of course, will continue to occupy this section of Cyberspace. Look for a guest blog on Saturday by my friend and fellow fictionista Lamar Henderson.

And speaking of focus, I’ve had none this week. In fact, I’m sure I’ve had conversations and encounters with co-workers, friends and sources on my news beats that I can’t even remember. Today is Friday? Huh. The only day I remember this week was Wednesday. I’m pretty sure I’ve had a couple of bylines in the Tribune this week, but don’t ask me which stories bore my name.

As far as telling Kianna’s story, I can’t really do that, because she will write it herself – with the direction of Kishia and Darnell, of course. That was the 7 pound, 3 ounce epiphany that came to me when I held Kianna Thursday afternoon at Boone Hospital. As she snoozed peacefully, I wished hard that her eyes would open. I whispered, “There’s so much I want you to see.” The random images flashed through my mind: Sunsets. Coots diving into the mud at Eagle Bluffs. Meteor showers at 3 a.m. The glow that has radiated from Grammy since Wednesday. Any Pixar movie. The tears that come from her daddy’s eyes every time Kianna sounds the least bit uncomfortable or hungry. The first leaf buds of spring.

My wish list for Kianna is incredibly long and maybe, probably at some point, I’ll help her see some of life’s most wonderful sights. Maybe I’ll be the one who helps her figure out something that gives her an “Aha!” moment. I’m going to support others to share those unique moments with her. She’ll see most things, for a while, through her mommy’s and daddy’s eyes. They’ll be the ones who show her the way. Along the way, Kianna will discover that the greatest discoveries are made on her own. And if I’m the kind of Grandpa that I know I’m going to be, I’ll be anxious for Kianna to show me the wonders of life as she figures them out or stumbles onto them.

“Grandpa, did you see this? Grammy, look at that?”

And whatever this or that is, when we look through her eyes, it will be as if we’re seeing it for the first time.

That will be Kianna’s story – not what she learns from Grandpa, but what she teaches Grandpa.

Not how the world changes her – but how she changes the world.

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A three-piece suit and wavy hair

Countdown to Kianna

10, 9, 8 … Kianna, please don’t be late. 7, 6, 5, 4 … Four more days — and no more?

Kishia and Darnell so carefully planned our first grandbaby’s addition into their lives, timing this grand event to meet career, school and financial goals. With that regard, it’s “mission accomplished.” In more than one way, increasing the size of the Brown family was practically scripted.

Until now.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Kianna might not be following the script. She’s due on Sunday – four days from now. She’s in position, mom-to-be Kishia is beyond ready to be un-pregnant, and daddy Darnell needs his daughter to keep him company in that rocker.

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting

October 1981: Vocalist Jodie, organist Mrs. Irene Grossenheider.

Mrs. Irene Grossenheider was old even to the old people at Faith Baptist Church in Belle, Mo., when I was in high school. She taught piano to hundreds and multiple generations of children. And as the church organist, she knew only one tempo: Hers.

On the rare occasion that I was the worship service song leader, I followed her, even though I used one arm to “conduct” and keep the beat, matching my arm and hand motions to the meter of the song. Mrs. Grossenheider told me she appreciated the way I led, but I think she mostly appreciated that I was really matching my arm movement to her organ-playing.

It was her beat – possibly multiple beats, especially if the hymn was written with a 6/8 time signature. She’d speed up, she’d slow down. She was in command. My youngest sis, Kathy, and I still share a chuckle about Mrs. Grossenheider’s style. It’s not a disrespectful chuckle, but something we remember with incredible fondness. And when you added my mother to the mix, the musical dynamics really ramped up – and not in the hymn notations.

Mom is a classical-trained vocalist and director. SHE would determine the beat and meter. Mix that attention to technical detail with an elderly organist who thought that SHE was setting the beat, and what resulted was Mom practically stomping a foot, looking Mrs. Grossenheider’s way to signal, “Follow ME.” But Mrs. Grossenheider followed herself. Where there was no retard (pronounced “ruh-tard,” meaning slowing or slackening in tempo), Mrs. Grossenheider threw one in, typically in the last few measures of the last stanza.

Those memories and nostalgic laughter came rushing back recently when I found a photo of me with Mrs. Grossenheider. Sure, my three-piece suit and permed hair are worth a laugh, but often it’s what we see on the periphery that gives any scene the most context. The photo shows the attendance and hymn boards. See? Proof of what I’ve said a few times in Jackson’s Journal about Sunday night attendance dropping off dramatically from Sunday morning. The Wednesday night crowd was even smaller.

Then my eye caught the board listing the hymns. I knew that hymn 41 was “To God be the Glory.” I’ll know that forever in the same way I’ll never forget the words to the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song; the same way that “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme sometimes randomly turns on in my head. I pulled my Baptist Hymnal off the shelf to see the other hymns, and it was only fitting that hymn No. 434, “Serve the Lord with Gladness,” has a 6/8 time signature. I suddenly heard Mrs. Grossenheider play the final line of the chorus: “Wonderful is His name,” (slower) “We gladly serve Him,” (even slower) “His great” (verrrry slow) “love proclaim.”

I’m laughing, but please don’t misinterpret my emotion. I’m not poking fun, no more than I was making fun last Wednesday when I recounted Brother Keithley’s drawn-out prayer-starter, “Our Heavenly Father …” The hymns, the prayers, the strong if not rigid examples of faith and practice set by the elderly men and women helped keep me grounded. I am eternally grateful.

When I was 16, 17 years old, few parts of my life were predictable, but I found reliable structure inside the walls of Faith Baptist Church. Mrs. Grossenheider’s organ-playing and Bro. Keithley’s prayers were constant, consistent and predictable. I mean that in the most positive way possible.

Incidentally, the other hymns listed were #330, “Teach Me to Pray,” and #232, “I Am Praying For You.”

I had no idea why I had a picture taken with Mrs. Grossenheider until I turned the photo over to place it on the scanner. This is what’s written on the back:

“To Jodie who sang beautifully

Toleda and Terry Jett’s wedding

Oct. 25, 1981

Mrs. Irene Grossenheider, organist

Miss Kathy Jackson, pianist”

Sorry, but I have no recollection of singing or what I sang. I’m even more baffled that I sang at all, considering my sister was the pianist. She was Toleda (Backues) Jett’s classmate and her vocal skills were far superior to mine. But I was asked to sing?

Here’s our music for Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting: an oldie and a more contemporary tune. “To God be the Glory” and Michael W. Smith’s “Agnus Dei.” The latter is a 10-minute video. Even a Southern Baptist might find himself raising his hands by about the three-minute mark.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #33

I haven’t been on my “A” game this week. Gee, I can’t think of anything that would steal my focus and keep me kinda anxious.

Oh, yeah: You.

Your Grammy said last night, “I can’t wait to see her little face!” Kianna, you have already brought infinite joy to your parents and grandparents.

Now hurry up and get here. Grandpa’s got some spoiling to do.

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The Write Life: My Tribbees are winners

Countdown to Kianna

10, 9, 8 … Just one week and one day from the due date when Darnell and Kishia Brown will be parents, and Jodie and Kelly Jackson will be grandparents. Kianna Allene Brown will also be blessed by her Auntie Natasha.

And that’s just the immediate family. So many others are already invested in the Brown family. And a few hundred have followed this countdown to some degree for 30 days now

It won’t be long …

The Write Life

We all want to be relevant. Even the most introverted among us (and that certainly is not me) wants to matter, if not make a difference. I think that’s the Number 1 reason we write, whether it’s newspaper journalism, non-fiction biographical histories, or novels of fantasy or mystery.

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Kianna’s mom wonders: ‘Where did my liver go?’

Guest Post
By KISHIA CHANTEL (JACKSON) BROWN
 
Interestingly, a few weeks ago, Jackson’s Journal posted a blog which referenced a song that was stuck in my head for weeks. The lyrics in Nichole Nordeman’s song “I Am” are powerful, and for some reason this one was been stuck in my head: “Bless the moments that we feel You nearer.”
 
Maybe you are expecting something else from Kianna’s mom. 
 
But I sum up the past nine months of this experience as a “moment that we feel You nearer.” Or maybe it is a combination of many moments like these: 
 
– We had our first ultrasound at six weeks. The doctor said, “Congratulations! You are the proud parents of a dot!” I looked at Darnell, my husband, and maybe there was a small tear in the corner of his eye. I didn’t know what to say because the dot was moving. It had a heartbeat. This little peanut with a heartbeat is what makes me puke all day and night? Wow. “And bless the moments that we feel You nearer.”
 
– Darnell and I were walking our dog one day. When we walk through our neighborhood we mostly talk about all of the pretty houses and lawns. Why are the moles just in our yard? How did they get their rose-bush to look so full?  But this was a fairly quiet walk. For some reason on this walk it hit me: If there is a child inside of me, where did my intestines move? And where did my liver go? This was really bothering me, so when I got home I looked up a diagram of where all the organs move to make room for the baby, and I was kind of in awe. I know it’s crazy – and graphic. But He rearranged all of my insides to make room for this little girl. It wasn’t such a moving moment because of the unexpected anatomy lesson. But it was a moment that I realized God was taking care of it all. Even my liver. Bless that moment, because I could feel Him so much nearer.
 
– When I first met Darnell seven years ago, all he owned was a gym bag of clothes. That’s it. He has an amazing testimony that he rarely shares, but when he does, listen closely. He never imagined this life that we have: marriage, great jobs, a beautiful house, and now a baby to complete it all. So when I walked by Kianna’s room one day, and I saw Darnell asleep in my late Granny’s rocking chair, I felt so blessed to be a part of Darnell’s blessing. It sounds a little crazy, but in that moment, I realized that I am almost more excited to see Darnell hold this little girl than for myself.  And wow … if there wasn’t such a presence in that moment. I felt Him much nearer. 
 

Kianna's expectant parents: Darnell and Kishia Brown.

MY message to Kianna

Your dad and I have made mistakes in our lives, and you will, too. But we have made sure we took steps to try to learn from those mistakes. And those steps we have taken in our lives together have been intentional. We may have waited many years to have a child, but that is because we wanted the best life for you.
 
You were seven years in the making.
 
Your dad and I have loved you before you were born. We have loved you before you were even conceived.
 
And we will always love you.
 
You will have moments in your life that are happy and amazing and you will feel so blessed. You will also have moments in your life that are sad and scary and you will feel overwhelmed. Embrace all of it and “bless the moments that we feel You nearer.”

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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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The Write Life: Dialogue … only dialogue

Countdown to Kianna

18, 17, 16 … 15 days for Kianna to decide it’s time to show herself, to say, “Hi, Grandpa! I’m here.”

Okay, so it might be a year before she actually verbalizes that, but I’m convinced she already knows how incredibly wanted and loved she is. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience to her mom and dad if she went ahead and decided to get here today or tomorrow. This weekend’s as good a time as any to be born, right?

Saturday’s theme: The Write Life

Showing action, emotion, body language and thoughts is every writer’s goal. Show. Don’t tell. Being preachy is lazy. (And a turn-off). Describing every scene, every character, every action by telling our readers what they are seeing – rather than letting our readers see the scenes, characters and actions by the way we build those elements into the story – is also lazy, and it forces readers to be spectators rather than participants. I’m going to offer an exercise in a moment that forces showing, not telling, descriptive elements.

You’re probably familiar with writers who describe their characters as if reading the police blotter.

Jodie was about five-foot-10, average build, with graying hair. And overweight. He wore glasses and complained of perpetually itchy ears.

And then there’s the description of the character through the character’s eyes.

Jodie glanced at the mirror as he walked past the open door. He scratched the day-old stubble on his chin and studied the dreamy eyes that stared back at him. His amazement grew as the connection became clear. “I bear an uncanny resemblance to Robert Downey Jr.,” he said.

Your writing challenge today is to write at least a few lines of dialogue – and nothing else. No “he said, slamming the door as he left,” or “she said as tears trickled down her cheeks.” No one’s entering a room, dramatically pausing between words for emphasis or saying anything descriptive unless it’s in the form of dialogue. I promise I didn’t pre-write the following, but it’s been brewing in my mind for a couple of days. (Remember, the objective here is to “show,” not “tell.” Let your words paint, not preach).

The scene is two men meeting for an every other Friday noon-time chat at Dunn Brothers Coffee on Forum Boulevard in Columbia. We’ll call our characters “Jodie” and “Doug.” A third man will enter later. We’ll call him “Third Man,” because that’s how “Jodie” names characters when he’s writing on the fly, and, oh look, another character suddenly shows up. “Jodie” can consult his Master List of Character Names (a.k.a. old phone book), or simply call the walk-in character “Mr. Generic.” “Jodie” can give the unexpected character a proper name during the edit or revision.

An acceptable alternative is allowing the unnamed stranger to meet an untimely end. (Dramatic pause.) That’s right. Kill him.

Here goes …

“What, no coffee today, Jodie?”

“Nah. I don’t have a lot of time. Gotta get back.”

“Working on a big story?”

“Not really.”

“Well you’re sure not very talkative. Why the long face?”

“My face is fat. And unshaven.”

“Oh, you’re on that self-loathing kick again. I get it.”

“Not really. Just had a doctor’s appointment this week.”

“And?”

“I don’t know. Gotta count calories now.”

“You know how many calories are in just one glass of milk?”

“Matter of fact, I do.”

“I just noticed this morning that my milk is a hundred and ten calories.”

“That’s just one serving.”

“Yeah. That’s what I had.”

“I bet you drank a full glass.”

“Right. One serving.”

“Dude. Most drinking glasses are more than a cup. Probably two cups.”

“So? I don’t follow you.”

“One cup is one serving. A hundred and ten calories. You probably drank two cups.”

“Two-hundred and twenty calories?”

“Don’t fall out of your chair there, Doug. But, yeah, you said it.”

“Holy cow! That IS depressing.”

“Yep. Love my milk.”

“Gotta have my milk.”

“Whatcha lookin’ at?”

“Is that Third Man over there?”

“You mean the yuppie with the laptop?”

“No, you moron. At the counter. The guy tapping his fingers on the pastry case.”

“Yeah. Sure. Hey, Third Man!”

“Hey, guys, let me pay and I’ll be right over.”

“Jodie, why’d you invite him over. He’ll get crumbs all over us.”

“Looks like we’re in luck, Doug. They’re out of scones.”

“Hey, guys. What brings you two here? They’re out of scones.”

“Hey, Third Man.

“Hey, Jodie. So, what are you guys talking about?”

“Calories.”

“Yeah, thanks for bringing that up, Jodie.”

“Hey, you’re the one who starting going on about milk.”

“I don’t know if you two know this, but milk is a hundred and ten calories a glass. And that’s the one percent stuff.”

“Jodie, you want to correct his math?”

“Whaddya mean, Doug? My math is okay.”

“Not really. Doug’s right. That’s a hundred ten calories per eight-ounce cup. You want a full glass it’s two-hundred-twenty calories.”

“No way!”

That’s it. (And you were probably waiting for me to kill Third Man).

This is a (probably very poor) example of dialogue blocking. It’s a common technique for writing screenplays. Get the dialogue down first, then go back and add stage directions, props and the rest. It’s also a great way to overcome a bout of writer’s block. If you’ve got two characters and don’t know exactly where the story’s going next, just let them chat for a while. As your people talk it out, you’ll write it out. Maybe you’ll use it, maybe you won’t. If nothing else, you’ll get out of the rut and get to know your characters even better.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #22

Sometimes when I call your mommy, Kishia, I hope that she doesn’t answer. Sounds funny, I know, but I love to hear her voice message. “Hi, this is Kishia …”

It’s the voice. Sweet, polite, just a tiny, tiny bit shy. The same tone, inflection and sound of the little girl she was once. And I need to hear that every once in a while. Your mommy is a grown-up woman now –has been for a lot longer than I care to admit. But every time I hear her voice message, I’m reminded that your mommy is also still partly my little girl.

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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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