All week I have been reading from Jason's friends that we did a great job raising that boy. I wish we could take exclusive credit, but if you knew Jason when he was growing up, you know that it truly took a village to raise that boy into the man he would become.
His first baby sitters were Patty and Deanie Isaacs., daughter and mother. They kept him from the day he was six weeks old until we moved to Wellston when he was seventeen months old. They have continued to keep up with Jason. I have never seen Deanie and her husband Henry that they didn't ask, "How's our boy?"
Leaving him the first day was at the time the most difficult thing I had ever done. I still remember the feeling of "dropping him off" like he was something insignificant. I cried on my way to work, but I knew I had no choice. Tony was still in college, so I had to work. Every day I would go through their back door in the evening to pick him up, and someone in that house was paying attention to him. Never did I walk in and find him playing alone; he was sitting on the cabinet in the kitchen, a part of the family. As he grew and began learning things, they would show me what he could do. I have a couple of pretty clear memories of that experience. First, one day I picked Jason up and put him in the front seat beside me in his infant seat. This was before car seat laws; how did we drive down the road with a baby right next to us? Anyway Jason was about five or six months old at the time. I kept looking over at him, and he was doing something new with his mouth. I thought he had something in his mouth, so I stuck my finger in there to see what it was and found his first tooth. I know that Patty and Deanie knew it was there, but they let me find it. Deanie was a mother with a sensitivity for a mother. She knew I felt I was missing out and didn't want to hammer that point home by finding his tooth before I did. Another time I walked in, and I think it was Brenda, Patty's older sister, who was there; she had Jason sitting on the kitchen counter, by then he was about seven months old. She starting asking, "Jason, where's you eye? Where's, your hair?" I thought, "Yeah right, he's too young to know that." That baby pointed to everything she asked him about, eyes, hair, nose, mouth, chin.
I think they had worked on that all day. In that instance I wasn't sad that they had taught him that and I hadn't; I realized that he was blessed to have people in his life that taught him things that I didn't even think he was ready for.
Jason wanted to be where the action was. During his childhood he was not content to play quietly by himself as some do, he wanted to have someone over, go to someone's house to play, go somewhere, do something.
I have been thinking this week that we should have kept him closer to us when he was a child, but Jason was always going, doing, being with other people. After he finished playing little league baseball each summer, he would go to Gigi and Grandad's to "horse around" with Grandad. If we wanted to see him, we had to come here. We lived in Wellston, only about a thirty minute drive, so we packed up every week and spent the weekend in Tecumseh. My favorite pictures on the video we showed at his service were those when he was right in the middle of the action of working cattle. He was a happy boy.
During the school year he liked to spend time at my sister Phyllis's because she cooked wonderful meals and Marty and Monty were there to play with. I am learning now some of the things they did while they were there. His Uncle Fred taught him to care for his show pigs and included him on the work that had to be done. Smelly work, but Jason liked it.
After we moved to Tecumseh, he spent time with Sean Jeffcoat's family, again eating good meals and helping, I hope, with the things that needed to be done. He and all of his friends liked to stay the night at Todd Luster's. I never knew why until I had them in class. I asked the question, "Who has a mom that cooks breakfast every morning?" Todd was the only one who raised his hand. I then knew why those boys wanted to stay there. Alice was cooking a real breakfast--no cereal, poptarts--she "cooked" breakfast. I found that out at the end of his jr. year, so I started cooking breakfast every morning during his senior year. That lasted just a few weeks. I would cook something, leave it on the counter to be warmed up. After the new wore off for Jason and Allison, I would find a cereal bowl or evidence that they had gone to the donut shop, so I quit. Jason wasn't interested in the food; he liked sitting around a table, eating, talking, sharing.
In summers during high school, we spent time with Randy. Randy was hauling him to high school rodeos so that he could qualify for the National High School Finals that would take place in Shawnee. They worked horses and poor Cindy had to feed him then. I sure hope these people never send me a bill for the times they fed my kid. He moved to Marilyn Frantz's ranch to work both the summer before his senior year and the summer after. This was before cell phones, so it wasn't always easy to keep up with him, but he would call and tell me all that he had been doing and learning, and I couldn't miss him any longer. If you have raised a teenage boy, you know that they are going to be doing something..He was safer there working with Jack on the ranch than he would have been hanging out with friends and getting into trouble.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the friends, family, and teachers who made my boy who he was. So many people invested in Jason's life and made him into the man he became.
I'm sure his ag teachers, coaches, teachers, were ready to kill him sometimes, but they spent time teaching him. For that I am thankful.