Tag Archives: Mrs. Grandpa


Countdown to Kianna

10, 9, 8, 7.

The due date for our first grandbaby, Kianna Allene Brown, is just one week away.

Kelly and I talk about impending grandparenthood many times a day. We communicate as well as we ever have. I don’t think we need any prodding to chat. At least I don’t need a nudge to get me to talk. But this Saturday morning, before sis-in-law, Jeannie, and her three boys arrived for a day-long and overnight visit – joined eventually by mom-to-be Kishia and Jeannie’s hub by, Eric – Kelly sat in the middle of our freshly-made bed, telling me she found the book, “Love Talk Starters.”

Her voice was playful. I rolled my eyes. She read the subtitle: “275 questions to get your conversations going.”

I rolled my eyes again.

“This will be fun!” she said with way too much glee for a Saturday morning that demanded our time to get ready for guests.

“If you could do one thing together and be guaranteed success, what would you do?”

It didn’t take me long to answer.

“You know how I try to get guest bloggers? We should be guest ‘pickers’ for the show American Pickers.”

Kelly agreed. We were really connecting; on the same page as it were.

“We’d be good at that!”

“Yeah,” I said. “Then we’d have our own show.”

This conversation-starting book was okay. Kelly read two or three more questions. We had more great conversations.

One more question. (Still 270 to go).

“Matthew Porter, the writer, said to his wife: ‘You do something to me – something that simply mystifies me.” Then the question: “What does your spouse to do mystify you?”

I didn’t hesitate.

“You always have one more ounce of energy, one more act of love. No matter how exhausted you might be, you have time for someone in crisis. And you still have time for me. Your capacity for compassion and empathy mystifies me.”

I know it was one of those “awwww!” answers, but I meant it. Rolled right off my tongue.

I was almost afraid, though, to hear her answer. So what mystifies my spouse the most about me?

“The way your mind works. I mean, like you wanted to learn origami. Where did that come from?”
It was a lovely moment. I wanted to say, “You’re mystified? I’ve got no idea why my mind works this way. I’m mystified!” That might have put a damper on things.

We’re four months away from our 30th anniversary, but we haven’t gotten tired of or used to each other. I think this concept of “mystified” is one of the sweetest spices that flavors our marriage every day.

Darnell's careful handwriting left an indelible message to Kianna on mom Kishia's belly. Photo by Sara McDaniel. Her website: http://belovedphotobyslm.com/

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #30

The verse on your mommy’s belly says it all. Kianna, you are not an accident or just some chemical or biological process. Your life has intentional purpose.

I’ve counted down the days until your birth because I’m just so excited. Excited to see my beautiful daughter be your wonderful mommy. Excited to see your daddy treasuring you like the miracle that he never dreamed he’d experience. Excited for your Grammy (Mrs. Grandpa) to tuck you into the place in her heart that has been waiting just for you. Waiting for Kianna.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that worldwide 361,000 babies are born every day. About 11,000 other babies will be born in the United States the same day you are born. That’s lots of babies.

But there’s only one Kianna. One life script just for you, different from the talents, traits and purpose of all those other babies.

I’ve been writing about your mommy’s pregnancy as if it’s a big deal because it is.

Kianna, YOU are a big deal.

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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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Countdown to Kianna

10, 9 … Don’t you think it’s time?

Hah. See there. I rhymed.

Maybe that’s an idea, though? Perfect meter matched with a rhythmic cadence, something to get the throes of labor and childbirth going within the next nine days. The doctor’s guesstimate for the arrival of Kianna Allene Brown was Feb. 19. But mom-to-be Kishia has her bags packed, arrangements made and work delegated from her job as the assistant administrator for an early childhood education program.

Friday’s follow a “Back to the 80’s” theme in Jackson’s Journal, so let’s grab a few hits from Grandpa’s playlist. Love songs. Some parts of these tunes even describe Grandpa and Mrs. Grandpa’s hearts as we anxiously await the arrival of our first grandbaby.

There’s not a dance vibe going on here, but instead the soft, smooth duo of Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross (Endless Love, second-biggest selling single of 1981)  and the effortless vocals of Peter Cetera and Chicago (You’re the Inspiration, 1984). We’ll add a pop-rock edge to our selections and drop a quarter in the juke box for Journey’s 1983 hit Faithfully, sung by the actual Steve Perry, not one of the scores of Steve Perry wannabes who have butchered Journey’s hits over the years.

A special note about Endless Love: Pay attention to the time mark of 1:37 … “our lives have just begun.” Kinda fitting for this post, huh?

Now, if these tunes just put Kianna in a peaceful, cuddly, relaxed mood, let’s change the mood.

“There’s a party goin’ on right here, a celebration …” That’s right. Kool & the Gang with Celebration (1980). Get on out here, Princess Kianna!


Grandpa’s message to Kianna #28

Your Grammy and I sang “Endless Love” back in 1984 at the wedding of your Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma Thompson. Now that’s quite a pair!

Your Great-Grandpa is a jokester; you’ll want to keep a close eye on him. He’s always got a joke ready to tell. Him and Grandpa are probably the only ones in the whole family who like to watch and talk about football. Your Great-Grandma Thompson is very soft-spoken and calm-spirited – quite the opposite of Great-Grandpa. But you’ll love ‘em both!

Someday I’ll tell you about the time your Great-Grandpa climbed up tree to attach a rope – or to get your Aunt Jeannie’s kite … I don’t remember — and his leg came off. (It’s a long story. He’s got a prosthetic leg. And he probably even remembers this differently). Then I had to climb up the tree to help him get his leg back on.

Ah. Good times.

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Countdown to Kianna

15, 14, 13, 12, 11 … 10.

Traditional countdowns start at 10, but if you’ve been around Grandpa-to-be me, you’ll know I’m one to buck some traditions. The Countdown to Kianna began at Day 38 until Feb. 19, the gestational due date for Kianna Allene Brown to change our lives forever.

Kishia called Wednesday morning after a doctor’s visit to report that the doc will not let her pregnancy go more than seven days beyond the due date. Seven extra days would bring our first grandbaby into the world on Feb. 26 — the very date Kishia was born 27 years ago.

Now that the countdown is on the brink of single digits, me and my BFF Grammy jump when one of our phones ring. We are and have been on full alert.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #27 …

Your Grammy (of course, we’ll call her Mrs. Grandpa) told me last night that she doesn’t need to watch “chick flicks.” In her words, “My life is a chick flick,” and then she said something about being married to a great guy.

Kianna, if I’m “great” it’s all because your Grammy sees more in me than I see in myself. But Grammy is like that. Wanna know something else about Grammy? For starters, she’s already in love with you. I rattle on and on every day in this Journal about how gaga I am over being a grandpa with nary a mention of Mrs. Grandpa’s glee.

If you decide to come today, before I get a chance to write another of these messages, you need to know that more than anything else, all you ever have to be is yourself, because that’s who Grandpa and Grammy love. You don’t have to always be right or agree with us. You don’t have to always have your hair brushed. You can be a bad mood. You can sulk. You can cry, scream and shout (something tells me that’s going to happen right away).

No matter — EVER — no matter what feeling, circumstance or decision comes your way, whether it’s Princess Kianna or Little Miss Grumpy, none of that matters when it comes to our unconditional love for you. Considering you’ve also got that from your Mommy and Daddy, I’d say that you’re already a very, very rich little girl.

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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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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.


Filed under Family, Kianna Allene Brown, MIP: Memoir-in-progress

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.


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).


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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The kind of grandpa I want to be

Countdown to Kianna: 25, 24, 23 days away, or sooner, before Granddaughter Kianna arrives. This was mom-to-be Kishia’s text today after her doc appointment: “1 centimeter dilated. 50% effaced. Baby is head down and ready to rock.”

Kelly (that’s Mrs. Grandpa) told Kishia she can’t wait to see Kianna. Kishia responded by saying she can’t wait for Kianna to be out.

Maybe soon?

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #14 …

Kianna, I’m listening. And I’m hearing you. That’s what I want to you know when you talk to me, when you show me the latest picture you’ve drawn, when you want to tell me a story about your toys, when you are sad or cranky, when I get on your nerves. I’m listening. That’s the kind of grandpa I’ll be. As a Daddy I was too much of a shouter, a yeller — probably even a screamer at times. I used to have a bad temper. I didn’t hit people, but I could hurt them with my voice. I wish I had listened more, because I was probably shouting sometimes when my girls really needed to tell me something important.

I don’t shout anymore; haven’t for a long time. Shouldn’t have been shouting to begin with. That sorta haunts me sometimes.

I’m listening, Kianna. When you just call out of the blue to chat, when you have great news and you can’t wait to tell me, I’ll listen, and I’ll hear you. And if you’ve got something to tell — or to confess — that you just can’t bring yourself to tell anyone, either because you think it’s too awful or because it will disappoint the people who love you … I will listen and hear you. I’ll cry with you and laugh with you.

And I will love you. Always.

That’s the kind of grandpa I want to be.

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Read and follow label directions carefully

Countdown to Kianna: 26, 25, 24 …

Kelly and I have 24 days to get T-shirts that say “Grammy” and “Grandpa.” (I still think that her shirt should have “Mrs. Grandpa” in parentheses under “Grammy.”)

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #13 …

Some people say the number 13 is unlucky. Grandpa doesn’t give a lot of credibility to that, although today has been sort of unlucky. Grandpa is kind of sick because he started a new medication this morning and took too much of it — and took another medication that maybe shouldn’t have been combined with the first one.

Your Grandpa has an arthritic hip.

Grandpa writes a lot of articles about health literacy and how it’s important for people to become more involved in their own health care and to understand medical instructions, such as how to take medication.

Today Grandpa didn’t practice what he preaches.

That sort of approach has never produced good results.

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