I'm thankful for so many of the opportunities being an Air Force brat brought me, but one of the down sides to all the experiences it presented was being away from family.  I hated leaving my grandparents' house so much I wanted to hide so we could never leave.

Photo courtesy Megan Macdonald

I had 10 acres of apples, grapes and peaches to explore, and I loved every minute of it, what little time I actually had.  Every summer, regardless of where in the world we lived, we'd spend a chunk of our summer vacation in Oklahoma.  During those summers at various relatives' houses in Oklahoma, it was the time at my granddad's house I remember the most.

We'd go fishing, ride on the blue tractor, blow up fireworks, build treehouses, go to work at the courthouse with him and get change for the soda machine while he was in court (court reporter, not criminal smart-a$$es), watch "The Today Show" and "The Price is Right" and pick apples for apple cider.  I can still remember the entire process of making the cider, from picking the apples all the way through capping the jug.

I loved the pipe smoke that you could always smell any time he was around (and for about 45 minutes after he left).  He'd be disappointed to hear that I'd (occasionally) picked up the habit.  Every time we'd get a package at Christmas, I didn't care what was on the inside.  I just wanted to smell the pipe smoke that stuck to everything.

The thing I've taken away from my granddad more than anything else is his love for kids.  He couldn't stomach seeing the children dragged into his courtroom for trials and he'd make sure to give them a piece of candy and a soda to make them feel better.  I remember his empathy and genuine care for every kid he was around.  I'm fairly certain there's a few dozen adults in Oklahoma that don't remember the name of my granddad but still remember the kind man that made them smile that one (otherwise) awful day in court.

Today would have been the 92nd birthday of James William Garrett.  To honor a man that was always laughing and getting those around him laughing, I'm going to share one of his jokes that can actually be shared in mixed company.  My cousin, Chris, reminded me of this joke today, so thanks to him.  It revolves around a stuttering paratrooper, so I apologize if I offend any stutterers.  Or paratroopers.