I am a sports fanatic (fan for short). My parents were not. They paid very little attention to even pro sports. Why my brother and I became such avid fans, I have no idea. Before one Christmas, we both asked for Cincinnati Bengal helmets. We loved to watch the NFL highlights and then go out and tackle each other. On the big day, we both rushed to unwrap what had to be the boxes containing helmets. Yes, we got them! 2 NFL helmets just our size. The only problem was they were Cleveland Browns helmets, not Cincinnati Bengal helmets. We both looked at each other. Not the Browns, the hated rivals! However, in a surprising display of maturity, neither of us said anything. Not even when mom said she got a great deal on them. Of course she did. Nobody in Cincinnati wanted a Browns helmet! We took our helmets to our Grandparents house. It started to snow. There is nothing like football in the snow. We put on our helmets, went outside and played tackle football. Actually, it worked out well, because we each saw the other wearing that hated Cleveland Browns helmet and tried that much harder to take each other’s head off. It is still one of my favorite Christmas days.
My two grandmas were exact opposites. Grandma Taylor would give you the duster off her back. You could never visit her and grandpa without leaving with something you didn't come with. Even as a married man with a good job, she would slip me a five-dollar bill as I kissed her goodbye. She kept us supplied with government cheese. Her refrigerator was always stocked with our favorite pop and she had chilled mugs in the freezer. Somehow she got the idea that I liked cherry pie. I don't. But she always baked one for me to take home. I loved spending the night at her house. I hated going to Grandma Wilson's. When I was about 8 or 9, my brother and I were staying over. She gave each of us a quarter for the ice cream truck. We went out on the front porch to wait for Mister Softee. At last, we heard that sweet music approaching. In his excitement, my brother dropped his quarter. It fell between the concrete slab and the brick wall. We couldn't rescue it. We told grandma we were a quarter short. She replied that was too bad, we should be more careful. We did not get another quarter. Maybe I shared my cone with my brother, maybe not. That I don't remember. The great irony is Grandma Taylor was poor. She and Grandpa never owned a home until very late in life, and then only because my parents helped them. Grandma Wilson was wealthy. And although over the course of my life, she gave me much more money than my other grandma, it never meant as much as that cherry pie.