Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Aug. 4, 2006

In all his glory

Although he's not an official member of our family, Mom's friend Stan has become a fixture.

Mom met Stan a few years ago at a meeting of the area's retired teachers. She noticed him, she said, because he always stood up at the meetings and told jokes. When she told me about how he made her laugh, I suggested she should invite him over for tea. I figured Mom could use some laughter in her life after Dad's death in 2002.

She took me up on the idea and they have been friends ever since, discovering they have a number of things in common. Both grew up during the Depression, both were teachers, both have three children, both enjoy family history and both were care givers at the end of their spouses' lives. It even turns out that Stan was friends with my husband Art's former neighbors and worked with many of his colleagues

Before she met Stan, Mom would call me several times a day. Now, I have to call ahead to schedule an appointment to fit into her schedule! And, if I can't find Mom at home, I call Stan's. When he recognizes my voice, he tells Mom, "Here you go! It's the police department calling for you!"

At any given time, she and Stan might be grocery shopping, attending a local play or musical performance, eating TV dinners at his place, picking up burgers at a local fast food restaurant, attending a meeting for retired teachers or working on their memoirs.

They have even helped each other with house projects. He helped hang a tool pegboard in Mom's garage and pictures on her walls and put a thermometer and rain gauge on her deck. She has lent a hand with some small carpentry projects and she and my sister Gaila recently planted hostas in front of his house.

Mom even calls Stan to rescue her from all the hubbub of having Gaila and her family in her home and the rest of us going in and out during the summer months. Even when she's had just about enough of the rest of us, she perks right up when Stan arrives to whisk her away.

Stan has also participated in inside family jokes. When my Dad was still alive, Art thought it would be funny to give him a picture of Mom's head morphed onto the voluptuous body of a model in lacy lingerie. Dad loved it and kept the picture on his desk for several years. Stan and Mom decided turn about is fair play and so, Stan morphed my head onto the same body and presented it to Art. The caption on the picture reads "In all her glory." Art loves it and hung it on the wall at his work!

To help celebrate Stan's 80th birthday, Art put together a DVD of some of these family shenanigans. The theme song is "Ghost Riders in the Sky" because I videotaped Art and Stan singing a couple of verses of the song at our Independence Day celebration. Art used Vaughn Monroe's 1949 version for the beginning of the tape and Spike Jones' crazy version for the ending. In between, were birthday messages oldest daughter Mariya had videotaped from all of us to Stan along with still photos of Christmas and birthday celebrations, Easter dinners, impromptu picnics and other family gatherings.

When I asked Mariya what she thinks of Stan, she said, "He's funny, he likes to bust out in song and he makes Grandma happy - and that's special."

Special indeed!

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