Nineteen months after the birth of our first son, Bobby, we welcomed Jeff into the world. Bobby was a happy, contented, and quiet baby. Jeff, by contrast, had a temperament that proved his personality was larger than life. He weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces, and measured 21 inches long when he was born in the late 1960s. In the delivery room, he poked his head out, looked around, and returned immediately to the safety of mom’s birth canal. Nursing staff actually pushed on my ribs and belly to help me deliver him.
Jeff quickly proved to be a take-charge babe. His formula was not enough for him so he cried until we met his needs. Before his doctors recommended it, I was adding rice cereal to his formula to curb his insatiable appetite and to keep him calm. The addition of cereal to his diet accelerated his growth early on. Jeff weighed thirty pounds when he was only eight months old, which was one-fourth of my weight. Growth calculators consistently recorded him in the top 90 percentiles. I made him snap-up pants until his height caught up to his weight and he could wear husky cut toddler pants.
As a toddler, his high activity levels and short attention spans kept everyone around him on their toes just to keep up with his mischievousness and to keep him safe. Babysitters came and went. The school notified us when he sneaked out of class while he was in kindergarten. Turns out, Jeff climbed down into a nearby sewer and walked through it under a major highway to make his way home!
His habit of escaping from uncomfortable classrooms continued throughout his school years. In elementary school, he scared school authorities when he left school and hid under a school bus that was waiting for the afternoon dismissal. In high school, I would drive him to school. He would exit my car in the parking lot and I would see him enter the side entrance. What I didn’t observe was his immediate exit out the other side. Near the end of his sophomore year, his school principal left a voice message on our phone to say that Jeff hadn’t been in school that day. We had no choice but to just laugh–Jeff hadn’t been attending school since mid-winter and they were just noticing his absence!!! In fact, he passed with a “C” average while not attending classes.
If you hadn’t picked up on this by now, Jeff always has been an outdoorsman. Whatever the weather, he wanted to be out and about, if not with others, then with any and all types of animals that ultimately would “follow” after him. I can’t count the number of dogs, cats, ferrets, and birds that he sheltered or found and kept or gave to others to care for.
Regardless of his age or maturity, Jeff’s greatest attribute continues to be the care and support he freely gives to his family and friends while ignoring any sacrifice he makes to himself. Jeff and his wife Penny are also amazing hosts. They frequently entertain family and friends in and outside their home. Everyone always leaves with bellies and take-home bags filled with good food and happy memories. As well as playing together on their spacious property, our ever-growing numbers of children enjoy interacting with their two dogs, Reno (an orange and brown ball of pomeranian fur) and Jewels (the sweetest pitbull); LeRoy their 15-year-old Manday Conur; Zeke a Rhode Island Red rooster; a friendly wild turkey hen; and Bella, the neighbor’s pet deer who likes to partake of Penny’s plant’s large hosta leaves.
Besides being a top-notch craftsman and auto mechanic, Jeff also enjoys gardening and sharing his summertime vegetables (and hen’s eggs) with family and friends, too. The best gift a parent can receive from any of their children is to see them stay forever young with wholesome hearts, to follow the laws of God, not man, and to center their activities on family and lifestyles that even past generations of a family would be proud of.