Happy MOST UNUSUAL Birthday Benjamin

0May 29, 2020

Dear Benjamin,

It’s been one year since I met you. I knew right away we were going to be buddies. The only time you aren’t happy is when we put you down for a nap! Otherwise, you live up to your nickname BIZZY! You are constantly on the move trying to find your next adventure. Smiling, laughing, almost walking — but ALWAYS in the middle of everything going on. Poppo can’t help but smile every time I look at you. Your smile and laugh are infectious.

Speaking of infectious…your first year has been an unusual one. New words have come into our vocabulary  — some that haven’t been used in 100 years. Pandemic, quarantine, COVID, social distancing, shutdown, virtual school — what a mess. Several months ago, a terrible virus infected literally millions of people around the world. In the United States alone, before it’s done, more than 100,000 people will have died from this virus. We have never seen anything like it. In addition to producing much physical sickness, it has also caused A LOT of mental sickness. “Social distancing” was intended to keep us safer because we wouldn’t be as close to one another as normal, but in many cases it caused “social isolation.” Distancing is good — isolation is not good.

We NEED each other. We were created by God to be in fellowship with one another. Because of our desire not to make other people sick, our distancing had the unintended consequence of causing many people to be isolated. We are finally starting to get out and around people again and boy does it feel good.

Nanna and I had not been able to see you or Ellie for over three months except on FaceTime (for which I am so grateful). But seeing and talking to you over the phone is just not the same as being able to hug you and play on the floor and outside. Nanna and I have worked very hard for the last 5 weeks to make sure we didn’t expose ourselves to any unnecessary germs so we could be here to celebrate your birthday. I can’t tell you how excited we were when we got here this week. You can tell by my smile in the picture just how excited I was to see you! I was afraid you might not know me right away since you had only seen me on a phone screen, but I was wrong. As soon as you saw Nanna and Poppo — that big old grin covered your whole face and I knew you were as excited to see us as we were to see you.

You reminded me that no matter how much distance there may be between us, the love in our hearts for one another is so great that distance doesn’t matter. Nanna and I were not going to miss your first birthday for anything and thankfully, we are able to be here with you.

You won’t remember this, but the world that we live in will change forever because of this virus. Your “normal” is going to be different from the “normal” I have known. That’s not necessarily good or bad — it just is what it is. In other words, we accept it and adapt. Throughout your life, there will be many times when you have to change and adapt. Hopefully you won’t have to do that because of a severe sickness like this, but that’s the way life works. Nothing stays the same forever.

But I want you to remember this. No matter how much things in the world may change, there are two things that will NEVER change. God NEVER changes. The Bible teaches us that. In Malachi 3:6, the Bible says, “For I am the Lord, I do not change.” Benny…that’s GOOD NEWS! No matter what happens around you, no matter how much your life and the world around you may change…God NEVER changes. You can always trust His Word and you can always trust Him to do what is right. I don’t always understand the way God works, but I believe His Word and therefore I know He never changes.

The second thing that will never change is that Nanna and I will ALWAYS love you. I try and remind all you grandkids of this each year on your birthday. We may not always agree with your choices in life…but I promise you that our love for you will always be unconditional. I love you because you are you — not because of anything you do or don’t do.

I’m thankful for the technology that allows us to see and talk to you during this time we are quarantined, but nothing replaces the ability to physically be present with you and experience your infectious laugh IN PERSON. I thank God that we have been able to do that for your first birthday.

I can’t wait to see how you grow and develop over the next year. Hopefully, we won’t have any more pandemics and we can physically get to experience all the fun we want. I love you BIZZY — you are my little buddy.



Dear Harper…Happy Birthday!

Dear Harper,

Today (9/6/18) is your SECOND birthday! Where has the time gone? It seems like you just got here and now we are celebrating another birthday. I guess Poppo truly is getting old — just don’t tell anybody I said that.

I cannot begin to tell you what a joy you are in our lives. Your laugh is contagious and you absolutely light up a room with your smile. It was obvious when Hudson was born that he was a strong-willed child so we thought you would be our calm child. Well…not so much. You are giving your big brother a run for his money in that department. You may have outdistanced him just bit because you have the shrillest squeal I have ever heard in my life. I have a cousin, Natalie who had a very high pitched voice when she was a child. I kinda kidded her about that all her life. I’m beginning to wonder if your shrill squeal is my payback for making fun of Natalie. If so, I would like to publicly apologize to Natalie right now for that. You have her beat! When things don’t go your way…that squeal makes dogs howl all over the neighborhood!

You are also becoming our little princess. The funniest thing you do to me right now is this. When I ask for a kiss, you often tell me no. But then you present your cheek to me so I can kiss you! You won’t give Poppo kisses, but you allow Poppo to kiss you. Thank you, your highness.

But Little Bit, there is something else very special I have begun to notice about you. You have what I call the “second child personality.” I doubt there is scientific evidence to back up what I’m about to say, but I’ve noticed this before. Your daddy has this trait, your Aunt B (Poppo’s sister, Brenda) has it, and when I got to know your momma…I discovered she has it as well.

As your little personality has developed, I’ve noticed that you have a tremendously big heart. I noticed it first in the way you take care of your “babies.” Whenever you hold a baby doll, you love it and then bring it to Poppo and want me to love it too. That is so cute. But it goes way beyond that.

Second children seem to have this compassionate part of their personality that is greatly enhanced over the first child. I see this in you already. You are always concerned about everybody else. You want the approval of your big brother, you want to make sure everybody else is happy and you are quick to give a hug or to ask “you ok” when we sneeze or even cough. It seems that you have this inner instinct that causes love and compassion to be your first response to others.

I can’t tell you how happy that makes us. I can’t tell you how many times you have come over to me, asked me to hold you and then you put your head on my shoulder and just gently pat my back. You don’t always know what kind of day I have had or what kind of foolishness I’ve had to deal with that day, but you seem to know that laying your head on my shoulder and patting my back will make it all better. That, my darling is a God-given gift.

Just this week, Hudson was riding his bike down the driveway at our house. Nanna and momma and I were all out there watching and encouraging him. I was holding you. All of a sudden, I looked at you and you had both fists balled up and you were screaming to Hudson — “PUSH, PUSH.” When he was able to ride the bike, you raised those arms and just screamed, “YAY!!!!!” You were as excited for him as you would have been for yourself had you accomplished the same thing.

Oldest children don’t always see the importance of things like that. I can say that because I am an oldest child. In the Bible, there were two sisters — Mary and Martha. I think Martha was an older child. The Bible says she was always distracted doing things and being busy. That sounds about right. Mary, on the other hand was more observant. She sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him teach (Luke 10). I think you may turn out to be my Mary in a Martha world.

Many people unfortunately believe that you have to be busy and doing something all the time. Those people (like Poppo) sometimes miss opportunities to show compassion — not because we don’t care, but because we are too busy. I think second children — like you, your daddy and momma, and your Aunt B — are able to see things I don’t see. You all see how important it is to show compassion and to be encouraging. I’m thankful for that.

It’s so much fun for Nanna and I to watch you, Hudson and Ellie as you grow and mature. Each one of you has special qualities that God has given you which I know each of you will use one day to glorify Him. We love all of you so, so much.

I’m looking forward to watching you go through this second year. You are a typical two year old — we all see AND HEAR that. But you also are a special child — the second child. You seem to see through eyes of compassion. I pray that gift continues to grow and mature in you.

Remember…Nanna and I love you UNCONDITIONALLY. No matter what you do or where you go, we will ALWAYS love you. That doesn’t mean I won’t correct you when you misbehave, but I promise to always be your biggest cheerleader in life.

You truly are #MYFAVORITEREDHEAD. Happy birthday Little Bit. I love you.

Happy Birthday PunkinDoodle…Tell Your Momma to Sweep the Porch

Dear Ellie,

Tomorrow (8/21) is your first birthday! It’s hard to believe you have been here a whole year. I’ve always been told that the older you get, the faster time flies. I didn’t believe that until I turned 50. Now it seems like time flies faster and faster every day.

Your first year has been so much fun. You are DEFINITELY your mother’s child! That makes me laugh right out loud! Several times (especially recently), your mom has called me and I can hear you in the background throwing a little “fit” or screaming because the attention is not on you at that moment. I just smile…because I consider this PAYBACK from God to your mom. I think she spent the first four years of her life believing that all the rest of us had been sent here to entertain her.

Every time Nanna and I see you or Facetime with you is special to us. We don’t live as close to you as we would like, so our visits are extra special. When I was a little boy, there was no such thing as Facetime. Shoot…there was no such thing as cell phones either! That explains the title to your first birthday letter from Poppo. I have a little story to tell you.

When I was a little boy, my grandmother (I called her Mammy…she didn’t like that by the way), lived in Roanoke Rapids and I lived in Potecasi. Today that wouldn’t mean a lot because people travel that distance every day to go to their job, but when I was a boy, you only went to Roanoke Rapids a couple of times a month if you were lucky. That meant I didn’t get to see Mammy very often.

Well, every couple of weeks, Mammy and Uncle Genie (he was my step-grandfather — my granddaddy died before I was born) would make the trip from Roanoke Rapids to Potecasi to visit with us. They usually came on Sunday afternoon after church. I didn’t always know when they were coming but there was a sign I looked for that was a pretty good indicator of their impending visit — my momma (Granny) would sweep the front porch.

Big deal you say? For me, it sure was. You see, nobody ever came in the front door of our house. The only two people I remember using our front door were Mr. Jernigan who drove the dry-cleaning truck and G-Buck. Mr. Jernigan would stop out front and come to the front door to see if we had any dry-cleaning that needed to be picked up. He usually showed up around 6-7pm usually while we were eating supper. He didn’t come in to visit because he was working. G-Buck usually showed up at the front door around 1-2AM every six months or so when he had “had a snoot full.” That’s another story for another day. It was a long time before anybody ever explained that one to me. All I knew was my daddy usually left to take G-Buck somewhere — so again…no visit.

BUT…when Granny would come home from church and grab the broom and shoot out the front door, I knew big doings were about to happen! When she swept the front porch that meant Mammy was coming to visit. Now, Granny probably has a much different recollection of this process than me — you can ask her about it some other time.

After the porch was swept, I waited to see that green Oldsmobile pull into our yard. I was so excited to see Mammy. Your Aunt Brenda and I would sit on the couch and tell Mammy about all the things going on in our lives. It was a fun Sunday afternoon because we also got to sit in the Living Room — and nobody normally sat in that room. You only used it when you had special company. Here’s a picture of me, Aunt Brenda, Mammy and Uncle Genie. I have another one which I decided not to include because Aunt Brenda and I are half naked (LOL). I’d have way to much explaining to do if I put THAT on the internet. I’ll show you the picture some time because you can see just how happy we were.


I’m sure you are wondering…”Poppo, why are you telling me this story on my first birthday?”

Well, go back to how I began. Nanna and I don’t live as close to you as we would like, so I hope that every time you hear that we are coming to see you, you get as excited as I did when I knew Mammy was coming to see me. Maybe we can develop our own “signal” to let you know that we are coming. With all the technology that exists today, that probably isn’t necessary.

Nanna and I love you very much and we enjoy every minute we get to spend with you and your parents. I’m so excited about this next year as you start walking and talking so that I can understand what you are saying. I look forward to watching you continue to grow up into the wonderful young woman that I know you will be. Even though we don’t see you every day…I can promise you, you are ALWAYS on my mind. I pray for you and I ask God to keep you safe and help you feel just how much you are loved when I’m not there to give you a big squeeze.

So PunkinDoodle…Nanna and I are headed your way later this week. We are coming to celebrate your first birthday with a party. There will be lots of family and friends there to celebrate YOU! And yes, this time, we are all coming just to entertain you. Tell your momma to sweep the front porch cause Poppo is on the way.

I love you with all my heart. Happy birthday PunkinDoodle.




Image-1.jpg Dear Harper,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You are 1 year old today. It’s so hard to believe. 365 days ago, you made your grand entrance and our world has not been the same since!

You are no longer “the baby” of our family. Baby Ellie was born a little over 2 weeks ago and that makes you “the middle cousin.” I think you will do just fine in that role. You met Ellie over the weekend. Everybody got along just fine and I bet ya’ll are going to be best buddies.

The title of your letter is a little different. I’m not even sure what a “hashtag” is, but this one has become your signature line when I post pictures of you. I think people use “hashtags” to call attention to special things they want lots of people to see. When Al Gore invented the internet I don’t know if he knew all the trouble he would cause, but when I post pictures of you, Hudson and Ellie…it makes the world-wide web a much happier place…I guarantee! You are the prettiest redhead I know and you certainly are #MyFavoriteRedHead.

You are still my “Little Bit” but in recent days you have discovered just how much fun it is to EAT! I haven’t seen anything that you don’t like. That’s good. Don’t be a picky eater. Food is just too good to miss out on things by not trying it. I’m having to buy extra Little Debbie oatmeal cookies because you really like those. You need to understand that I don’t share my Little Debbie cookies with just anybody — but you are just too cute and too special for me not to share with you.

You are a jumping bean! That’s your favorite thing right now. You hold on to my hands and jump up and down and laugh. Nana calls you Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh) because you jump so much. You are a bundle of energy and you are curious about everything — especially Rosie. Rosie is a sweet girl and she just lets you pull on her ears and play with her paws. She loves it when you and Hudson come over to play.

There is one more thing I want to talk to you about today. It’s been weighing on my mind for a while, and I want to make sure you understand this from the very beginning.

We live in a crazy world right now. People are not always nice to each other the way they should be. That makes Poppo very sad. I was taught that it didn’t matter what color your skin was or where you came from, God loves all people and He wants us to treat each other the way we would want to be treated. Our family has always tried to live by that rule.

Most of the time when you and I are together, we like to sing. And one of our favorite songs says, “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

That is not just a song to me. That is the way I always want to see the world and it is the way your parents and your grandparents want you to see it as well. We don’t judge people based on the way they look or where they come from. We are supposed to love all people because God made them. It is wrong for us to treat others differently just because they look differently or talk differently or come from a different part of the world from us.

Remember the Bible verse that says, “For God so loved THE WORLD” — that means EVERYBODY in the world is loved by God —  “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). That means that Jesus came to this earth and died on the cross so that all of us can have a personal relationship with God. NOBODY is left out. Anyone who admits their sin and believes in Jesus will be saved. As you grow older, we will talk much more about that.

Right now, I just want you to learn early to treat everybody the way you want to be treated. Everybody will not always do things that are lovable — but we love them anyway because God loves them. Don’t ever treat people differently just because they don’t look like you or dress like you or talk like you. I think this is one of the most important lessons you can learn in life.

I’m sorry to tell you that people will not always treat you nicely. Sometimes they will talk about you and they may hurt your feelings. That is NOT FUN. When it happens, always remember that Poppo loves you more than anything and I will do my very best to make sure you always know that you are loved and that you are special to God. There is nothing that you cannot do if you trust God and follow Him. As you learn that lesson, always remember how bad it feels when people don’t treat you nicely. That will help you understand what other people feel like when they are treated unfairly. I pray that you will always share that special smile with everybody you meet. It will sure brighten somebody’s day!

Well, here we go. Today begins your second trip around the sun. I’ve made almost 55 trips and you, Hudson and Ellie have made the most recent ones my favorites yet. I can’t wait to see what happens to us this year. Whatever comes our way, always remember that God loves you, Nana and Poppo love you and there is absolutely NOTHING you can ever do to change either one of those things.

I love you Little Bit. You truly are #MyFavoriteRedHead.



Every Poppo Needs A…


Dear Ellie,
I don’t even know where to begin with your letter. For every grandchild, I write them a special letter from me on or around their birthday. I started it with your cousins Hudson and Harper. Now, it’s your turn.

I think I have been expecting you for a little more than 31 years. When your momma was born, I KNEW that one day she would have a little girl who would bring as much joy to her as she brought to me. Your momma is the definition of “Daddy’s Girl” — always has been, always will be. Based on my very early observations, I have a feeling you are going to be a Daddy’s Girl too. That’s a good thing. As you grow, I will teach you how to use that to your every advantage. I’m already watching you wrap your daddy around your finger and I’ve been standing back and smiling because I KNOW what’s going to happen.

There are a few things I would like to share with you as we start this journey of life together.

First, and you already know this. God loves you, your parents love you, and Nana and I love you. Those are three things you can ALWAYS count on. I don’t care what happens in your life or where you go in life, our love for you is unconditional. There is absolutely nothing you can ever do to make us stop loving you.

I think you already know how much God loves you. I think all babies know that because I believe that the last place you lived before you were in mommy’s tummy was in Heaven. You were quite stubborn and didn’t want to join us in the “real world” yesterday (8/21/17). I wasn’t there, but your daddy told me that he thought you had latched on to mommy’s insides with your toes and weren’t going to turn loose! That sounds about right. I know if I had to leave the warmth and comfort of Heaven and my mommy’s womb, I’d want to stay too. We will do our very best to make you feel safe and loved here too. Don’t worry.

The second thing I want to tell you is about your nickname. I actually titled your letter, “Every Poppo Needs A…” as a little tease for your nickname. Every time a grandchild is born, I get to know them a bit and then give them a name that is special for them and that I call them. I call Hudson, Scooter — you will understand that soon enough. I call Harper — Little Bit because she was so tiny. I decided on your nickname before you were born.

When your momma was born, she was the first grandchild for my parents, Granny and Popple. Popple is the one who started this nickname thing. Oh how I wish you could have known him. He lives in heaven now, but I feel like he is with me and I am trying to be as good a Poppo as my daddy was a Popple. The grandchildren called him Popple because of your momma. That’s the advantage of being the first grandchild. You get to pick the names of your grandparents and the rest of the grandchildren basically follow along. For some reason, your momma couldn’t quite say Pappa and it sounded like Popple. So that was it.

It didn’t take him long to give your momma a nickname. She was his Punkin Doodle. I have absolutely no idea what a Punkin Doodle is but that’s what he called her. Popple had a very special relationship with my sister (your Aunt B) and your momma. I always wanted that kind of relationship with my daughter too. And I have it with your momma. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about your momma as you get older. She thinks she rules the roost, but I’ve just let her believe that for almost 32 years. There are some good stories I will tell you. Stick with me Ellie and you will be running this house in no time flat!

Back to my story. After Popple went to heaven, there was nobody who called your momma Punkin Doodle any more. Popple called your Knuckle Dustin, PeeWee and I always have called him PeeWee and now YOU can call him Knuckle PeeWee! But when Popple died, the name Punkin Doodle faded away.

The more I have thought about it, the more I have realized that Every Poppo Needs a PUNKIN DOODLE….so there you go. That’s your name. You are my Punkin Doodle. After having met you, it fits. I still don’t know what it means, but when I saw you, I knew I had made the right choice. My daddy would be proud of me and he would so love you.

The third thing I want to tell you is that this family is CRAZY! The more I hang around them, the more I realize that the only sane ones left are Scooter, Little Bit and Poppo! You have joined a very exclusive club. You will meet them all — Nana, Knuckle PeeWee, Aunty Em (I just decided that’s what you would call her), Granny (don’t even get me started) and ALL the rest. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but again…stick with me. I will guide you through the maze of craziness and you will come to love all of them. They really are cool people!

Finally, I want to tell you about your momma and daddy. They have their quirks but I can already tell that they love you more than anything. They have that look in their eyes when they look at you. Your parents are going to teach you so many things as you grow that will help you later on in life. I have watched them mature and grow since they got married and I’m convinced they are ready for the challenge. You won’t always agree with them and there will be times when you don’t like them very much. That’s ok. Just remember they are doing the most important job that God every gave to people — raising children. They are going to tell you about Jesus and they are going to show you what it means to love Jesus and follow Him. Watch them, listen to them, cut them a lot of slack — they really are doing the best they can.

You are a blessing and miracle from God for us. I look forward to watching you grow and I can’t wait until you are big enough to play with us. It’s going to be a blast! I’ve gotten quite good at this whole Poppo thing, if I do say so myself.

Punkin Doodle, always remember that God has a special plan for you and there is absolutely NOTHING you cannot do when you follow Him and trust Him. Nana and I love you and I promise you can always count on us.

Welcome to our world! Let’s go have some fun.

Dear Harper: A Letter From Poppo


Dear Harper Lane,

I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it is to finally meet you. But I must say, you are the tiniest thing I’ve ever seen. Poppo is almost afraid to hold you because I’m afraid you might break. I guess that since your brother was so big when he was born, I was expecting another “big ‘ol baby.” Instead, you are so petite and precious and Scooter and I have decided that you NEED our protection. More about that later.

There is a nursery rhyme that I remember from my childhood that said, “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of.” Every time I look at you that’s what I think of — sugar and spice and everything nice.

Now…there are a few subjects I want to address with you up front.

First, I can’t imagine you would ever do anything wrong, but I know eventually you will. In spite of that, I want you to know that Nana and I (along with all the rest of your family) love you unconditionally. There is absolutely NOTHING that you will ever do that will cause us to love you any less. We probably won’t always agree with all the choices you make, but our love for you is without strings. I want you to grow up knowing that from the beginning.

Second, I want you to always remember that Jesus loves you. You already know that I’m sure because I believe you (and all little babies) are gifts directly from the heart of God Himself. As you grow up in this world, you will see a lot of things that make you sad and many things that make you mad…but always remember God is in control and He loves you with an everlasting love. As much as Poppo loves you, God loves you much, much  more.

I’ve noticed that you seem to have already wrapped your daddy around your little finger. Remember this…with great power comes great responsibility. I don’t completely understand this, but little girls have a way of mesmerizing their dads from the moment they are born. I will refer you to your Aunt Deeves (Danielle) to learn more about this. People have accused her of having Poppo wrapped around her little finger. That may be open for some debate, but I’m sure she will gladly educate you in the fine art of dealing with your daddy. I will tell you this…if Aunt Deeves asked Poppo for the moon, I would start building a ladder this afternoon to get it for her!

Next, I need to make you aware of the women in your life. There are three in particular you will need to watch out for…your mommy, your Nana (Edna) and your Nonnie (Connie). They have been plotting and planning and buying and sewing for 9 months in anticipation of your arrival. I have a sneaky suspicion that you are going to have some kind of bow on your head or on your clothing for the foreseeable future. Just smile and enjoy all the attention. They certainly mean well. They have been so excited to finally have a little girl to dress up in fancy clothes.

Now…what I am about to share with you is EXTREMELY important. You have a big brother. His name is Hudson, but I call him Scooter. For the last two years, he has been the only child and he has learned how to use that to his every advantage. As you begin to get a little bigger, he will begin to share that power with you as well. Pay attention and learn from him…he is a master manipulator…perhaps the best I have ever seen. He is able to get the adults in his life to do just about anything he wants them to do.

Fortunately, I am immune to his power. This is why Scooter and I make such a great team. I see right through that little smile and cute little voice. So because of that, you have two protectors in your life — Poppo and Scooter. If you listen to everything he tells you, you may wind up in a bit of trouble…that’s where it will be helpful to have Poppo around. Thus far, I’ve been able to create enough diversions to keep Scooter out of too much trouble and I’m already looking for ways to help you too. Stick with me cause I got your back!

For nine months, people have asked me what I would call you. You certainly were going to need a code name (other people call them nicknames). Hudson is Scooter and that fits him perfectly as you will soon see. After only a few hours with you, I knew what your code name would be. From now on, I will refer to you as LITTLE BIT. You are so tiny and cute, Little Bit just seemed to fit. I hope you like it. This code name will help you when you communicate with Poppo. I got this idea from my daddy (your Popple). He would have loved you too and I don’t know what name he would have given you. But just like my daddy did, I intend to give all my grandchildren special code names that belong just to them.

Finally, there is one more thing. Throughout your life there will be people who try and tell you there are things you can’t do because you are a girl. Pay no attention to them. You will grow up to do anything you believe God wants you to do. He will give you the talent and gifts necessary for you to fulfill the wonderful plan He has for you life. So don’t listen to other people tell you what you can’t do…listen to God and know that you can do “all things through Christ who strengthens you.”

That’s all for today. I’ll tell you this. Being a Poppo is one of the greatest things to ever happen in my life. I can’t tell you how much fun I have and I’m so excited now to welcome you to my club. We are going to have so much fun. Remember, I love you very much and I can’t wait to see all that God is going to do in and through you.

Love you always Little Bit.


Dear Hudson…A Letter from Poppo


Dear Hudson,

It hardly seems possible, but you and I now have a 2 year relationship going! You stole my heart on June 22, 2014 and I can’t imagine what life would be like without you there. I continue to be amazed at just how quickly time passes. I was looking at some pictures this morning of the day you were born and you were so little. We thought you were the most handsome boy ever born. Now look at you. You get handsomer and handsomer (I know that’s not really a word) every day — much like Poppo.

Speaking of Poppo — that’s what you call me now. At first I thought you would call me Poppa, but as we all have learned, you have a mind of your own and you decided that my name would be Poppo. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody else call their granddaddy by that name, so I really like it. And that is one of the advantages of being the first grandchild — you get to name your grandparents.

As with every year, our family had a milestone event during the last year. Aunt Danielle (you call her Deevs) got MARRIED! I know…how exciting is that? You were in the wedding and you stole the show. She married Nate (you call him Knuckle Nate). It was a beautiful wedding and our family was there to celebrate. Deevs and Knuckle Nate are teachers in North Carolina and you like to go and visit them with mommy and daddy. Teachers have VERY IMPORTANT jobs and Deevs and Knuckle Nate are very good at their job. Maybe you will grow up to be a teacher one day.

By the way…YOUR life is about to really change. For 2 years, you have been an only child. But as you know, you are going to be a big brother in just a few weeks. In September, we will get to meet Harper Lane. PREPARE YOURSELF NOW! I don’t know what it is about babies, but they create a lot of excitement and people are going to expect you to be a “big helper” for mommy and daddy. I’m sure you will do your very best. You already are very quick to let me know that you can do things all by yourself. But I’m telling you…this is going to be unlike anything you have ever experienced.

All the attention is going to be on Harper for a while. That’s ok. She’s your sister. When she first gets here, you might think everybody has forgotten about you. They haven’t. It’s just that very little babies require a lot more attention than big boys like you. You’ll be tempted to try and do things to get noticed…but let me tell you from personal experience…just lay low for a while. You might think the things you are doing are funny, but probably nobody else will. They will accuse you of “acting out” and “being jealous.” That’s why it’s best for you to just chill for a few months and let everybody get used to this new baby. Hang out with Poppo…I have a lot of experience flying under the radar. I’ll be there to help you out!

I have a sister. Her name is Brenda (you call her Aunt B). I was three years old when she was born. I love my sister very much…NOW. But at first, I thought she had come to take all the love my momma and daddy had away from me. I didn’t like that thought at all. I quickly learned that my momma and daddy (Granny and Popple) had so much love that they were able to love me AND Brenda. And I promise, your momma and daddy have that much love too. Help them take care of Harper and as she grows, you will be able to “show her the ropes” since you will have been around a lot longer. She will need a good friend she can always count on. That will be YOU. You and Harper will probably fuss and fight a little (that’s normal), but in the end, she will always know she can count on you whenever she needs you. That’s the way it is supposed to be with families.

Here’s a verse from the Bible I want you to remember. It’s Proverbs 20:11 and it says, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.” As you grow, I will remind you of this verse pretty often. Your parents are doing their very best to teach you right from wrong so you will make good choices in your life. Your momma and daddy love you very much and they are doing a great job raising you. Pay attention to what they teach you. Popple used to say to me — “remember who your momma and daddy are.” That was good advice then and it is today as well.

Well that’s it for today. I love you so much. You have the gift of being able to make me smile no matter how I feel. Remember…no matter where you go or what you do, we will always love you.

I love you Scooter.




Dear Hudson…Happy Birthday


“Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly, and the pride of sons is their fathers.” (Proverbs 17:6)

Dear Hudson,

One year ago today I wrote you my first letter. I had just met you and you had stolen my heart. I couldn’t imagine how life could get any better. After 24 short hours, I understood all the fuss about grandchildren. In the 365 days since you got here, I have told your daddy on several occasions that YOU are my reward from God for not killing him when he was a teenager! I think that’s funny…your daddy…not so much.

Well, here we are 1 year later. I can’t believe how quickly time flies. I was looking at pictures this morning of you and Nana and you have grown so much! We thought you were a pretty big boy when we first met you, and now you are walking and babbling and time just keeps marching on.

My guess is you already realize this, but I’ll tell you anyway. You have four grandparents who actually believe that you hung the moon! Nonnie, Poppie, Nana and I marvel every day at what a brilliant and beautiful child you are. Your momma and daddy did a really good job making you.

Over the last year, a lot has changed. In the same way that your life has changed, our lives have changed too. In February this year, Popple went to heaven to live with Jesus. We miss him very much and I’m so sorry that you won’t get to know him the way we all did. But I can tell you this…he sure loved you. He called you his “little man.” I miss him every day, but I will do my very best to make sure I tell you as many stories about him as I can. Some of them we will probably have to keep to ourselves — but that’s ok — he was a funny man who loved Granny, Aunt B, me and all his family. As you grow older, you will discover that my love for my family is a direct result of the way Popple taught me.

The Bible verse I chose to be the heading of your letter today is from Proverbs 16. I’m not so sure I like being referred to as “elderly” but the part about grandchildren being my crown is sure true. It is also true that I have great pride in my daddy. As you continue to grow and mature, I believe you will one day be able to say the same thing. I know it hardly seems possible, but one day, you will have a grandchild and you will understand just how special they are.

Now let me explain something about that relationship with daddy. Your daddy is going to be your super-hero until you are about 12-13 years old — then, all of a sudden — he will lose his brain and you will wonder how he even ties his own shoes. Don’t panic! In a few years, you will realize that you are the one who lost his brain for a while and that your daddy is actually the smartest man in the world. During those years when you think your daddy doesn’t understand you — cut him some slack. He’s not nearly as dumb as you will think he is, I promise.

One year ago, I told you that we would always love you. We may not always like the decisions you make or the choices you choose — but after one year of being around you, I am more convinced than ever that there is absolutely NOTHING you will ever do that will make us stop loving you. And you can count on that!

It took me a little while, but I finally came up with my nickname for you. I call you Scooter. I hope you like it. I’m trying to get you to call me Poppa — but I’ll be happy with whatever you choose to call me. Pay no attention to your parents or Aunt Deevs — they want you to call me BUBBLES! How silly.

Well, this first year has been a blast for us. I hope it has for you too. Now we make our way toward “the terrible 2’s.” Personally, I don’t think you will have to worry about that much. Just stick with me and I’ll do my very best to run interference when THEY think you are getting into trouble.

Happy birthday Scooter. I love you more than you will ever know. This grandparent thing is the greatest thing ever.

Love always,