Friday, February 13, 2009

A Family Visit in Florida

My Nephew Ken Blackwell and my Great-Nephew Jake watching....

The Alligator Feeding at the Naples Zoo!

Jake driving a speed boat!

Jake and Uncle Tom, Great Pals!

Back in mid January we spent the day with my brother Jack, his wife Pat, their daughter Trisha, her husband Ken and their son Jake.
It was a gray, windy, cold(53degrees) day in Florida. We decided to go to the Naples Zoo. The Zoo here is wonderful. It is set in a Botanical Garden. The animal displays are large but a very reasonable distance apart. Navigating can be done easily by youngsters and oldsters! All of the primates are housed on islands in a small lake. A pontoon boat takes visitors around and a live narration is given about the various types of monkeys and their habitat. They have a wonderful store, full of things to delight children.

Jake was a very special boy to Grandma Eva(my Mom). He took to her as a baby and Mom took to him. She spent some weekends at Trisha's house so the bonding was extra special. Trisha made a point of making sure Grandma Eva got to know and love Jake, and vice a versa. Jake loved Grandma's walker and used to pretend he was driving a car. Mom used to pretend the walker had a horn and she'd cry out "ooga-ooga" (which was the sound old car horns used to make). Thus Grandma Eva became known as Grandma "Ooga-Ooga" and to this day it's how Jake refers to Mom. He came with Trisha several times when Mom was ill and was with us the morning she died. He is an exceptionally well behaved boy and has been that way since he was very little. My Mom BRAGGED about how good he was. If anyone knew my Mom you know how big she was into children's behavior. Jake always made her of a very few!

Now, Jake is a tall, well behaved, loving and very bright 3 1/2 year old. He behaves in restaurants, church, other peoples homes. He told my brother Jack. "Grandpa, you're my best friend!" He connects with people but most importantly he is able to tell them how he feels about them. Before we spent the day with them, he had only seen Tom a few times. That Thursday in Florida, on that cold and windy day, a bond was made between Jake and Uncle Tom. Later in the evening, Jake raced up to walk along side Tom. He reached up for his hand, looked into his(Tom's) face, and said, "Uncle Tom, I really like you!". Guess who's heart melted? Guess who has who, in the palm of his hand?

Publicly, I'd like to acknowledge, Ken and Trisha for doing such a magnificent job. Jake is becoming a wonderful human being. It all started with the love you both held in your hearts before he even began. Now it is because of the love, and the time you are investing in him. You are making this world a better place by preparing Jake for it. Thank you too for caring enough to let Grandma have the joy of him the last couple of years of her life. I'll never forget you for doing it. I love you both!
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