Browsing Tag


Mother-son tradition | happy movie time

You wouldn’t think a mother-son tradition would begin with a snake.

A. Very. Big. Snake.

But that’s what happened.

“Mom, I want to take you to a movie for Mother’s Day,” Thomas said. When a 13-year old son wants to do anything with his mother, his mother’s heart goes thumpity-thump and she agrees.

Even when it’s to see the film Anaconda. Yeah, a movie about a very big snake.

I know, the movie looks cheesy and campy now, but seriously – it was a very large snake. A snake that attacked.

Sitting in that theater, I was tense with the suspense of what that snake would do. Suddenly! That big big scary snake sprang from the river. Traumatized, I shrieked so loudly the entire audience heard me. Proof that I’m forever a girly-girl. Oh, sure, go ahead and laugh at my expense. Thomas did. Stupid fake snake.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when Thomas asked me on a movie date. That’s been our thing – watching movies.

Perhaps it all started with watching The Brave Little Toaster when he was three. He’d curl up with his blankie next to me on the couch and we’d watch it over and over. That’s what moms do. Spend time doing what their kids like to do.

But the movie he really loved and we watched for years and years was Back to the Future. He quickly learned how to insert and play “the Marty tape” into the VCR. A skill he was most happy with; a skill I had to monitor. Perhaps he was fascinated by the combination of action + music, or the DeLorean and the guitar, because at five years old, I’m sure the time-travel plot went right over his head. But he’d giggle and shout “Great Scott!” and “1.21 gigawatts! 1.21 gigawatts!” (not that any of us knew what that was) or he’d quote, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” or he’d play his “Marty” guitar.

Thomas with guitar 89

Several years ago when we were laughing about how many times he watched the film, he admitted, “I don’t think I understood the story line about the space-time continuum until I was a teenager.”

As he got a little older, we began our regular trips to Blockbuster. He’d browse through the action adventure section or the comedies, steering clear of the romantic comedies or dramas. I think I rented every Jackie Chan movie, including those with sub-titles. No matter the movie, that time spent with Thomas, watching him watch films he enjoyed, was magical. The day could have been bad, or stressful, or a sick day, but within seconds of plopping on the couch with Thomas to watch any movie at all, we were both having a happy time.

One summer before he had his driver’s license, he asked me if I’d take him and a few friends to the drive-in. Yes, there was still a drive-in theater in town. So three teenagers piled into my Crown Victoria off we went to the Ski-Hi Drive-in on State Road 3 for a double showing of The Rock and Face-off. Of course, we had to stop at CVS and the boys bought enough candy for a sugar coma. Movie time with teenagers. Happy. Unforgettable.

Now every spring I anticipate my movie-date with Thomas as we continue our mother-son tradition. In the years after watching Anaconda, we saw The Mummy, Spider-Man, Batman Begins, Transformers, and Star Trek.

And for the last five years it’s been all about superheroes: Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Iron Man 2, Thor, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3.

Last Christmas when a commercial for Captain America: The Winter Soldier came on, Thomas and simultaneously looked at each other and said, “Mother’s Day!”

This year it’s a given that we’ll be in line to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron. You betcha. Happy mother-son tradition. Five stars. [And no big snake.]

{Happy birthday, Thomas! I love you.}

My Parents: Their Love Story

I never tired of hearing their story. As a little girl, I’d sit beside my mom with their wedding album spread across my lap, slowly turning the pages of 8×10 glossy black and white photographs. I’d trace my fingers along their faces, along Mom bridethat white gown.

“Tell me again,” I said. “Tell me again about you and dad.”

And she’d smile and her eyes would crinkle and she’d get that lovey-dovey look and then she’d repeat once more Their Love Story.

Their story that she was 18 and he was 25, that she had just graduated high school and he was the high school football coach, that she was a cheerleader and he was the cheerleading sponsor, that she was the popular class president and he was the town’s most eligible bachelor, that they had only three dates when he proposed…

I’d smile too and stare at that photo of my mom looking so beautiful and my dad so tall and handsome.

And I’d listen to her story:

Your dad was tall and really good-looking as he stood by his junior high classroom door greeting his students. Besides coaching, he taught history and social studies. I often stole a few looks since my senior classes were nearby. That year I had many conversations with “Mr. Kehoe.” Sometimes when he had lunch duty. Sometimes when I had cheerleading practice. He was appointed high school cheerleader sponsor and I’d been a cheerleader for four years.

And your dad knew my whole family: our dads (your grandpas) played cards together; your Uncle Harley played on the high school football team; and he was friends with my older brother, your Uncle Charlie.

When high school graduation time came, I practiced my commencement speech, and I remember seeing my speech teacher and your dad sitting and listening at the back of the gym. After I had graduated in May, he called me early in the summer and asked me to visit a boy cheerleader who was in the South Bend hospital. I told him that I had planned to go shopping with my girlfriends, and he said, “I’ll take you shopping.” That came as a surprise, and I said yes.

At the department store he asked me to model the dress for him. I did and while I walked back to the dressing room, the clerk said something about “my husband.” I replied, “He’s not my husband.” She answered, “Don’t worry, he will be.” I wasn’t sure how to take that comment, so I just smiled.

On the drive home from South Bend, we laughed and talked all the way. We stopped and bought sweet corn, which we took to my house and cooked, and then we went to play golf.

A few days later he asked me out on a “real” date, and then we had a second date to a drive-in movie, where he told me he loved me. Your grandma was leery and cautioned me, “Barbara Ann, you know he’s older. Are his intentions honorable?” I guess they were because on the third date he proposed and I willingly accepted.

We were married that November during the Thanksgiving holiday. I went from a senior one year to a faculty wife the next!

But part of the story that I loved most, that all my life I thought was magical and wonderful and amazing and enchanting and oh-so romantic, was this:

Sometime before visiting the injured cheerleader, I had a profound experience. I was riding home one night with my girlfriends after spending the day at the lake. The talk turned to your dad, the most handsome, eligible bachelor in town and the girl he was currently dating. One of my friends asked, “I wonder if it’s serious? I wonder if they’ll get married?” At that precise moment, I heard an audible voice: “No, because you’re going to marry him.”

Startled, I looked around to see if anyone else had heard it. If they had, what would they think? Maybe I had actually said it aloud? No. They were still chattering away, completely unaware of what I had heard. Quietly, I sat there, squeezed between my friends in the middle of the front. Was that an angel? Was that God?

I always held that moment close in my heart. And then in a whirlwind, your dad and I had our three dates, and suddenly I was planning a wedding and then we were married… all in less than six months.

So, what do you think? Did God speak to me?

I’d catch and hold my breath, then exclaim, “Oh, yes! God told you that you’d marry Dad!”

Now can you see why I loved hearing Their Love Story? Cute petite high school grad. Athletic attractive football coach. Three dates. Voice of God.

And so their wedding.  Then their marriage.  Then their family. Three babies in three years, then a fourth. Then, what else would you expect after hearing the Voice of God – years and years and years of Happy Day Moments!

Now it’s come to this: 60 years of marriage!

November 21, 1953 ~ November 21, 2013

Engaged summer 1953

Engaged summer 1953

The kiss! Her veil came off!

The kiss! Her veil came off!

Mr. & Mrs. M. Fred Kehoe (notice she's carrying her veil)

Mr. & Mrs. M. Fred Kehoe
(notice she’s carrying her veil)

Cutting the cake (there's that lovey-dovey look)

Cutting the cake
(there’s that lovey-dovey look)

The Kehoe family 1965

The Kehoe family 1965

P2Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! I love you.

Their children:
Steven Charles – born 1955
Jama Sue – born 1956
Douglas Frederick – born 1957   (Moved from Plymouth, IN to Muncie, IN, 1958)
Julee Ann – born 1961

Their grandchildren:
Jama married John Bigger in 1980 ~ Johnny – born 1983. Thomas – born 1984
Steve married Amy in 1985 ~ Bryn – born 1986. Steven Jr. – born 1987. Seth – born 1990
Doug married Laura in 1988 ~ Allison – born 1989. Shelby – born 1990. Adam – born 1993
Julee ~ Max – born 2000

Their great-grandchildren
Born to Johnny and Joni Bigger ~ Dawson – born 2007. Phoebe – born 2009. Finley – born 2012

How Does a Man Love His Bride

From Fred Kehoe to his wife Barbara (on their 50th anniversary)

He loves her with a love

that is not conditional.

It is not dependent on anything

she might do or say.

It is constant twenty-four hours a day

– even in sleep.

He loves her with a biblically based love.

Jesus is his teacher and example as

to how he is to love his bride.

The word of God is his textbook

in proving or measuring this love.

He loves her more than any other

human being on this, or any other, planet.

She is God’s gift to him,

and his prize.

There is nothing that can separate

his love from her.

100 Reasons for Happy Anniversary

Jama & John wedding2The Happy Day Moment of my wedding ceremony, August 30, 1980:

Through the songs, through the affirmation of our vows, I see only John and the miracle of our love which God has created. We stand facing each other, our hands clasped. His hands are slightly shaking and cold. In a paradox of emotions, we are nervous and yet wrapped in a wonderful peace. Quietly, John speaks the vows from his heart.

Jama&John wedding 8-30-80“Here, among family and friends, I, John, vow to you, Jama, at the beginning of our marriage, that I will love you with all my heart and honor you and work together with you throughout the rest of our lives, increasing our faith in God and our union together. I am your husband. I love you.”

My eyes are moist. I smile and speak, “Today, among our friends and our family, I vow and pledge to be the best wife to you that I can, to love you in times of tears and laughter, through struggles and successes, to be one with you as I never have with anyone before. I want to help you grow, as you have helped me grow, that our marriage may be fresh and exciting. You were designed by God to be the king and priest of our family, and as such, I will submit and obey you as my head. Christ has brought our love together, and in Him will our love and our marriage be strengthened and sustained. I am your helpmate; I am your wife. I love you.”

Our ceremony of love and joy continues. We exchange rings and Martin pronounces that John and I are husband and wife. My mind repeats those two words, knowing that today they apply to John and me. Inside is a continuous song of praise to my God who has blessed me so abundantly with this man.

(excerpt from Then Came A Miracle)

Throughout our marriage, we’ve had our joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, ups and downs, celebrations and disappointments — but in all things, we always had that MOMENT to be thankful, to live with gratitude that God brought us together, and He would work out all that other stuff for our good.

One Hundred Reasons why I have a Happy Day Moment with my husband — every day, more than 12,000!

  1. He says “I love you” to me so many many times a day, with his lips, with his eyes, with his embrace.
  2. He gives me lots of kisses.
  3. He gives me lots of hugs.
  4. He loves God and follows Jesus.
  5. He is a hands-on father to our children.
  6. He says “I love you” to our children.
  7. He hugs our sons, lots.
  8. He adores our grandchildren and loves to play Legos/read stories/color pictures.
  9. He is Captain.
  10. He has faith.
  11. He never said, “You can’t be a mother. You can’t have a baby. You can’t have another baby” because of my limitations.
  12. He is generous to a fault.
  13. He is so kind to me and others.
  14. He played with, supported and encouraged our kids.
  15. He hugs me when I’m sad or feeling low.
  16. He tells me I’m beautiful.
  17. He is a King James Version and hymn lover.
  18. He is as clever as Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan, and Groucho Marx.
  19. He kills spiders (and other crawly things) for me.
  20. He changes the toilet paper roll (over the top technique, of course).
  21. He vacuums the living room without being asked.
  22. He enjoys reading.
  23. He is scary smart.
  24. He lives with integrity, always.
  25. He graciously assumed household laundry duties.
  26. He now also does the grocery shopping.
  27. He makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches.
  28. He makes sure I’m never without chocolate.
  29. He knows just how I like my coffee (and tea).
  30. He warms an afghan or blanket in the dryer for me to snuggle.
  31. He endures the Cubs games with me even though he’s an evil St. Louis Cardinals fan.
  32. He helps me up when I am down, figuratively.
  33. He helps me up when I am down, literally.
  34. He helps me in and out.
  35. He enjoys shopping for gifts to give others.
  36. He listens, makes notes, and buys presents of things people like.
  37. He puts fresh fruit on my morning cereal.
  38. He makes sure I’m fed when I have to work all day in the office.
  39. He loves my family (and sometimes puts up with them).
  40. He buys chocolate for my boss so the candy jar on my desk is always full.
  41. He loves to build/create/modify Legos.
  42. He sings silly songs.
  43. He goes into Victoria’s Secret AND he buys me things.
  44. He buys ice cream even though he can’t eat it.
  45. He is sometimes rather goofy.
  46. He still watches cartoons (Lord, save me from Scooby-doo).
  47. He is always ready with a current weather report.
  48. He is obsessive about shoveling ALL snow from our driveway.
  49. He doesn’t speed.
  50. He has a huge helping of artistic talent.
  51. He never (rarely) complains about doing household chores.
  52. He is my live-in history professor.
  53. He love-pats my behind when I’m at the sink washing dishes.
  54. He designs and draws the most creative treasure maps.
  55. He is great at cuddling and I fit perfectly in he embrace.
  56. He has a witty sense of humor.
  57. He fills my car with gasoline and checks the tire pressure.
  58. He makes the bed even with all the extra pillows.
  59. He makes brownies for his co-workers, just because.
  60. He builds the warmest, fiercest (narcotic) fires in our fireplace.
  61. He is patient.
  62. He mows the lawn and cleans the eaves.
  63. He likes to spend money but he doesn’t go into debt.
  64. He lets me buy his clothes (if I get them in his preferred color scheme, i.e.: gray).
  65. He has made me a fan of curling.
  66. He wraps beautiful gift packages.
  67. He has very dexterous finger toes.
  68. He washes my car.
  69. He makes delicious apple pies with intricate top crust designs.
  70. He massages my sore feet with shea butter lotion.
  71. He makes my heart flutter with we smooch.
  72. He is still ticked off by Daylight Savings Time.
  73. He doesn’t mind taking me shopping.
  74. He rocks at Trivial Pursuit and Scene It.
  75. He suffered through my (temporary) emotional swings with a “There, there.”
  76. His smile and his laughter light up my life.
  77. He loves his parents and all manner of relatives.
  78. His blue blue blue eyes take my breath away.
  79. He is a fan of the Olympics, especially the Winter Games.
  80. He cared for me during my awful morning sickness(es).
  81. He is adorable.
  82. He surprised me when he began listening to country music.
  83. He is my Prince Charming.
  84. He is the definition of a loving husband.
  85. He got me to love watching Fred Astaire movies.
  86. He wipes away my tears (and passes me extra Puffs).
  87. He can put me to sleep by reading Antonia Frasier.
  88. He is imaginative.
  89. He wakes me with kisses in the morning.
  90. He lets me do the crossword puzzle in the Sunday paper.
  91. He makes me laugh.
  92. He finds me the most interesting gifts.
  93. He is compassionate and forgiving.
  94. He is still a big kid in many ways.
  95. He makes marriage an adventure.
  96. He reaches for and hold my hand when I crawl into bed late at night.
  97. He has taught me (too much) about aircraft, tanks and weaponry.
  98. He strokes my skin and I tingle.
  99. He always make me feel like a queen.
  100. He is the one … night and day, day and night.

And so many more…

HAPPY 33rd ANNIVERSARY!! Our Happy Day Moments continue…

photo by: Jeff Belmonte

My Dad, My Coach

My Dad turned 85 this month. So this post is to honor him. For the wealth of childhood Happy Day Moments.

When I was nine, my parents gave me an autograph book for Christmas. Throughout the holiday I pestered family and friends by collecting signatures and messages. I was delighted with that pink book with “Autographs” in fancy writing across the cover. The first page had lines for my name and my “favorites.” For “Favorite Book” was the difficult choice of Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock or Nancy Drew and the Haunted Mansion. But it was not a difficult choice for “Favorite Athlete.” No contest – I proudly wrote “my Daddy” in my best cursive.

BSU coaching smallI nearly swaggered with pride because of my Dad. My Dad had the best job of any dad I knew. Most friends were mysterious about what their dads did; they just came and went in suits and ties. My Dad, however, was a college football coach – that was worth bragging about. Kathy Williams’ dad was a close second because he managed the university auditorium and got to meet famous entertainers like Danny Kaye and The Temptations. And I have to admit I was a bit jealous when Kathy got to go backstage and meet Red Skelton. But, come on, what can really compare to coaching big college football players?

I mean, my Dad got to wear (and use!) a whistle when he worked! And he could yell and not even get in trouble. People called him “Coach,” an honorable title.

One of the best memories about his job was when he invited some of his players to our house on Friday nights for spaghetti dinner. Mom had to retrieve from the basement the biggest pot she had – the one she used for canning tomatoes – so she could cook all the spaghetti. Now, I’d been to plenty of gatherings and both the Kehoe and Drake families had healthy eaters among them, but I had never seen men pack away the volume of food as those football players did. It was amazing to watch.

Getting to sit beside one of the players – Dad usually invited two or three at a time – was the highlight of the meal for us four kids. If we were really lucky one of us got to sit between two of them. Dad even let us call them by their first names (instead of “Mister”), and I would oh so casually mention to my friends that “Mark,” “George,” or “Chuck” had come for dinner over the weekend. Some of them even signed my prized autograph book. I was envied.

A coach’s kid often saw life a bit differently. For example, Xs and Os didn’t mean kisses and hugs; they meant defense and offense. Sunday afternoons didn’t mean reruns of Charlie Chan movies; they meant six straight hours of football. For a long time I never knew there was any other programming than football on Sunday. I didn’t go visit historical battlefields or mansions; I went to football fields and high school gymnasiums. I actually saw my dad run backwards as he refereed high school basketball games. I knew of no other dad who could accomplish such a feat.

BSU 1Dad was, and forever will be, my favorite athlete, my teacher and coach, my Sahib Guru, my champion.

He taught me to punt, pass and kick a football, to throw a spiral and screen pass, to run the sideline and cut in for a long TD, to receive a handoff and sprint for quick yardage, and not to cry when I was tackled.

He taught me to stand in the batter’s box and not be afraid of a fastball, to keep my eyes on the ball and hit a line drive, to wind up and throw a strike, to keep my glove down on ground balls.

He taught me to swing a golf club off the tee, the iron shot, the chip shot, the bunker shot, and the proper putting stance, how to find my ball in the rough and retrieving it from the water.

He taught me how to run faster, how to dribble a basketball, shoot a lay-up and free throw.

He taught me how to hit, serve and pass a volleyball. He taught me to bowl. He even knew a thing or two about wrestling and gymnastics.

He taught me the serve and lob shot in tennis, how to hit a shuttlecock in badminton, how to pole vault and jump a hurdle.

He taught me all the stokes in swimming, even the “pick an apple and put it in the basket” technique of the sidestroke. He taught me to dive from the low board and the high board.

About the only sporting activities he didn’t teach me involved snow and ice. I don’t think I ever saw Dad in ice skates. Mom was the one who took us to the Duck Pond when it froze; she could even skate backwards.

Although Dad taught me the rules and play of so many sports, more important to him than how I played was the way I played – always trying, always perservering, always with respect and sportsmanship, always with dignity whether we won or lost. Often knowing I could improve, but always proud of my effort, he didn’t embarrass or belittle or discourage; rather he was a motivator and encourager.

FB playingHe reminded me that sports are games, they’re supposed to be fun. And by not losing sight of these facts and remembering to play fair and with sportsmanship, I carried the respect and appreciation of other people into every other aspect of life. He never emphasized winning “at any cost” but that winning was just one of several goals he’d like his kids to achieve. He took pride in our accomplishments and in improving our skills, so that we kids saw ourselves as winners, even if the scoreboard didn’t show the numbers going in our favor. Sports gave us new skills, new friends, and attitudes that helped us all through life.

Being a coach’s kid was a great childhood. Being Fred Kehoe’s kid was even better . . . and it’s still the best.

(For more on his faith influence, read Then Came a Miracle

photo by: GioPhotos

The Book Talk

Stacks of books, Seattle, Washington, USAI thought the door was closed. It was not.

I thought they were playing in the living room. They were not.

I just wanted to go the bathroom. That’s all. Just a quick visit. I even left the door ajar so I could listen for suspicious child movement.

That’s when I heard all the noise. Crashing noises. Not what a mother of toddlers (or any age, I suppose!) wants to hear. Out of the bathroom, down the hall, I made my way as quickly as I could manage toward the sound of impending chaos. But understand, I am not a fast mover. That I can motivate upright at all is miraculous. A diving accident when I was a teenager had left me a diagnosed quadriplegic. But with a mix of prayer, faith, determination, and (lovingly) pushy family members, I’d seen God do some amazing things to improve my mobility.

So, I slowly wall-walked down the hallway, my method of in-house locomotion, touching the walls (or furniture) for balance. After that initial crash, there was now silence. Not a good sign.

I pushed open the door. Well, I tried to push open the door. A barrier.  Ugghh, I pushed harder until I could see into the room.  I saw the reason for the crashing noise. The reason for the barrier.

Books covered the floor. Lots of books. Two little blond-headed, very quiet boys sat unnaturally still amid a mound of books. Three six-foot long shelves were empty. I caught my breath, “Oh dear.” Their father’s books.

They looked at me, blue eyes big. Then Johnny, the two-and-half year old, said, “Ah, oh.” Thomas, the sixteen-month old, looked at him, looked at me, looked down, and repeated, “Ah, oh.”

“Ah, oh,” indeed.

I sighed. “Okay, out you go. You’ve made a mess of Daddy’s books,” I said, giving them my unhappy mommy face. Because I couldn’t pick them up and extract them from the mess, I waited for them to stand and stumble over John’s collection of thick hardback hardcore history books. A few slips, a few more rips of dust jackets, and they were away from the disaster. They wiggled through the slightly open door and scurried to the living room. “We sorry, Momma,” Johnny said. I closed the door. Tightly this time. And decided to call in reinforcements to help me reshelve the “library” later.

From the start of my motherhood journey, I knew that calm was better than frantic, peaceful was better than hysterical, happy was better than sad. Daily I prayed for wisdom when things threatened to unravel me. And like pulling on a snag, unraveling can happen quickly.

While I made their lunch and we ate, I talked to them about the difference between Daddy’s books and their books, that books were special and we should be careful with them. I reinforced the importance of respecting what belongs to someone else. “Were those your books?” I asked.

“No,” they both agreed and shook their heads. Thomas seemed more interested in his apple than my discourse.

“Do you understand how we treat books now, especially other peoples’ books?”

Johnny’s small apologetic voice, “Yeah,” was mumbled with peanut butter.

After all, the children needed to learn that our house was, and always would be, full of books.

Our bookcases were sometimes three stacks deep with (my) books of English literature, books about faith and Christian living, books with autographs of authors I’d met, and (John’s) books of world and American history. John’s books, in particular, included volumes that I believed only libraries had. And his books, even ones he’s had for years, seemed new. Because he is a peek-reader, never bending the spine, never dog-earring pages, and never ever underlining or writing in margins.

In other words, we cherished our Bigger library.

And I wanted the small ones know the wonder, the power, the happy moments tucked within those pages. I wanted them to learn, to cherish, to appreciate, to respect, and above all, to read. Books.

But, I was still going to double-check that door to the “library.” Every day.


photo by: Wonderlane