I heard a lot of great things about Garry before we ever met.
He was the new man in my mother's life and she was totally smitten.
"He doesn't like kids very much" she confessed over the phone one day.
It didn't really matter as my siblings and I certainly weren't "kids" we were all in our early twenties and living 3000 miles away.
So the fact that my mother had children and grandchildren shouldn't be a problem.
It didn't take long for Jan and Garry's romance to blossom and for them to become roommates, with Mom moving into Garry's home.
When the time came for us to make the cross country trek to Arizona to visit Jan and meet Garry I wasn't the least bit insulted when my mom expressed some concerns about what a houseful of young adult children and a couple of rambunctious, ill-behaved grandchildren would do to poor Garry.
One on one we could be hard enough to handle, but a gang of us all at once just might be a deal breaker.
Maybe Garry would bail out of this relationship..??
Drop Marmie like a hot potato....??
When we arrived at their Arizona home late in the evening we were greeted warmly by Garry.
From previous conversations I'd learned that he and I shared a love of cooking and also a September 24th birthday.
Both of us Libra's and silly proud of it.
Our second day in Arizona was a work day for both Jan and Garry; they left early with the instructions "make yourselves at home".
Garry had been relatively quiet since we'd been in town, I would have paid good money to to get inside his head for a minute and see what he really thought of all this commotion.
Before he left for work that first morning he handed me an Astrology book all about Libra's.
"You may borrow this" he said "it's a cool book, I've had it for years and still haven't read it all".
After they left we made ourselves at home like we were instructed.
My siblings, the kids and I laid around watching television, eating, chillaxing a while and then decided to clean up after ourselves before went out into the backyard to sun.
My toddler son Buttercup, (who's nickname "The Destroyer" didn't really do him justice) had other plans, as we cleaned, Buttercup uncleaned.
When dear Buttercup became fixated with one of the lower level cupboards I did what any good mother would do, I let him pull the crap out and have himself a field day.
While I busied myself with tidying up, Buttercup busied himself with Garry's pots and pans.
He had them all out on the floor and was pounding on the bottoms like they were a set of drums.
Susan, my sister (who goes by the nickname "Auntie Fun Time") decided that Buttercup's one man band would sound all the better if he had implements with which to beat the drums.
Auntie Fun Time plucked a small meat mallet and a couple of wooden spoons from the holder on the counter and handed them to my son.
With Buttercup busy beating on the pans we were able to concentrate on the rest of the housework and help Mom with a bit of laundry.
We tossed a full load of dark t-shirts into the dryer and hit the high heat button, when they were done and folded we hit the back yard.
When the Arizona heat got to be too much my brother John got the garden hose out and gave us all a refreshing soaking.
"US" included Garry's Astrology book.
By the time I rescued the book from the hose tsunami the cover was rippled and the pages stuck together.
Geezeeee, I though, I just met this guy and I ruined the first thing he ever loaned me.
After spending an hour or two outside we went in for a break.
My brother thought it would be a nice thing to mow the lawn for Garry.
The lawn mower started easy enough, and things were swimming right along until John ran over Garry's garden hose and chopped it right in half.
He walked in the house holding one end in each hand.
CRAP!! I thought..remembering Garry's fondness for kids, we sure aren't making the best impression here.
A bit later my mom called to check in and we told her about the book and the garden hose.
To get her mind off all the bad things we'd done I offered up the fact that we did the laundry.
"Whatever you do" she instructed "DO NOT DRY GARRY'S T-SHIRTS IN THE DRYER, OUR DRYER HAS SUCH A HOT CYCLE THAT IT SHRINKS THEM EVERY TIME"....
HOOOOOLY SHIT...it appeared that things couldn't get any worse.
Susan and I re-wet the t-shirts and stretched them out using our feet as anchors we pulled like hell on the shoulders...we then turned the t-shirts sideways and stretched them out the same way in the opposite direction.
We hung them on hangers and pretended that it was all a bad dream.
Other than the neck's being strangely lop-sided, the t-shirts looked okay.
Not one of us said a word about the mishaps that had taken place during Garry's absence our first day in his home.
We'd wait for the perfect moment to let him know.
That night Garry generously offered to cook dinner for us.
My heart froze and the hair stood up on the back of my neck when I heard him bellow...
"WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THE BOTTOM OF MY GRANDMOTHER'S POTS...??"
In the course of one day, our first day ever at Garry's place we'd wet and ruined his book, we'd chopped his garden hose in half, we'd shrunk, then disfigured about 20 of his favorite t-shirts and we'd dented the bottom and sides of his great grandmother's antique pots and pans.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly Garry forgave us that day and over the last 25 years we've developed and nurtured a great relationship.
He nicknamed me "Mama's Girl" and there was never a time that I would call my mom that Garry wouldn't say when he answered the phone "who in the hell is this? Ooooh let me guess" he'd say "It's Mama's girl"
"WOULD YOU CUT THE CORD" he would jokingly scream in reference to my mother and my close relationship.
He would yell it at least twice every time I called.
In spite of this teasing I knew where I stood with Garry, he was good and kind and generous to all of us.
Anyone who knows Garry knows that he pretends to hate kids, but we all saw through his tough exterior and into his sweet heart.
He has a couple of granddaughters who argue every time his name is mentioned over which one Grandpa Garry loves best.
And besides me (tee-hee)... Garry is the love of my mother's life.
I'll miss you Garry, and like you always used to say to me before we hung up,
"Take good care kid, love ya".
* Garry, the love of my mother's life passed away suddenly a few days ago. Please pray for her and for all who loved him too.
I'm going to try and read this at his service today.