By Lindsay Eckert
Tribune lifestyle editor
When the red truck’s engine greeted the tree-lined driveway nestled on a cul-de-sac, a 3-year-old playing at the neighbor’s house would sprint through yards to get to the truck’s driver with open arms. “That’s the picture of true love,” a neighbor once told the little girl’s mom. On Saturday mornings, he traded his red truck for the transportation of the little girl’s pony, Snowy, pulling a pony cart and he would wake her up — to a reality better than anything she could’ve of dreamed — by tapping his fingers on her window. She’d sprint through getting dressed and brushing her teeth and ran, always with open arms, to her Pap sitting with a smile waiting for her. The two would live out their Saturday morning tradition of driving the pony cart through McDonald’s drive-thru window, and they giggled at the employees’ familiar facial expressions as the pony’s hooves clicked to the pick-up window where they retrieved their breakfast of hotcakes. The pair would eat their breakfast and feed Snowy a snack of an apple pie while laughing about the idea of him sipping a milkshake through a straw.
It was indeed an image of true love; generations apart sharing the best of moments and making the best of memories.
As the little girl would grow up, she’d write stories about adventures with her Pap; whether it was trips on the pony cart, training his bird dogs or her Pap guiding her tiny hands as he taught her to weld and create woodworking projects.
“You can do anything, you’re the most all-American little girl,” he’d say to encourage her.
With every turn of the welder, he helped her paint a picture that illustrated how believing in yourself is born.
When the grandpa-granddaughter team were planning their next woodworking project or craving a waffle they’d head to Perkin’s for breakfast and brainstorming. Over the years, they sunk into the same booth and she’d watch as her Pap’s hands drew the picture her words described and her mind imagined.
Although the little girl has grown up, and no longer has to stand up in the booth from being too small to reach the waffle she ordered, she still writes stories about the adventures with her Pap in Kokomo Tribune’s [friday] column.
As you read this column with your morning coffee, I’ll be sharing my morning coffee with my Pap in our same booth at Perkin’s to celebrate his 81st birthday.
Feb. 22 is the day a great man was born, a man whose love made me believe in myself. So, it’s a sentimental coincidence that Feb. 22 is also the day my boyfriend showed up at my door for our first date with Scrabble in one hand and a half gallon of chocolate milk in the other, “I thought you’d like this more than flowers.”
A thoughtful response to me mentioning, in passing and days before, I always have a glass of chocolate milk after dinner.
The relationship that built from two journalists playing Scrabble on an unseasonably warm winter night soon became a different, but just as meaningful, image of true love.
Derek — who was once a little boy also writing about adventures on his bike as he rode around Center looking for “hard news” before holing up in his room to write an article for his paper, The Center Chronicle — may share my same love of the written word, but more importantly we share the same belief in each other that I first experienced as a kid in my Pap’s workshop.
To grow up, meet the world at face value and know you have a hand to hold when your belief guage is critically low or resting at a full tank is the greatest gift my Pap could have given me. The gift of believing in yourself and allowing someone to believe in you more.
— Lindsay Eckert
[friday] editor/ Favorite day is Feb. 22