The kids also have another set of special people who have invested uncountable hours and miles into their lives and hearts, we affectionately call this amazing couple "Pappa Charles and Weeta".
Pappa and Weeta adopted Darrin and I when we began serving in our first "grown-up church". That is not to say that the church was filled only with grown-ups, but instead it was the first church that we served which counted on us actually having grown-up. (I'm certain if you took a poll at that dear church regarding the status of our "grown-up-ness" upon our arrival in their fellowship, the results would be quite mixed.)
Weeta, whose real name is Juanita, is the church secretary at our former church, and has been for over thirty years. Pappa Charles, well, he's simply the luckiest man I know to have married so well.
These dear folks took great pity on the green twenty-somethings that we were, far from home and family, and took us in as if we were their own. When Cole and Megan were born, Pappa and Weeta were right there, to see their fresh little faces. When the children were too much for me and I needed a break, they were right there, calling and asking us to please go out on a date and bring the kids over. When the kids were sick and we needed to go anywhere, they were right there taking care of them. If too much time had passed between date nights, the phone would ring and a deep, deep voice on the other end of the line would say, "'Bout time for a date, don't you think?" Juanita would then stop by our home on one end of town and pick up the children on her way home from work, and take them to her home on the other side of town, where she and Pappa Charles would feed them supper, take care of them, and then bring them back to our house and put them in their own beds and wait there for us to come home often very late in the night.
When Sunday rolled around we enjoyed a standing invitation to dinner after church at Pappa and Weeta's house. We'd race home, change clothes and take absolutely nothing with us but our appetites and our children and eat like royalty until we couldn't hold another ounce. Then we'd retire to the living room and doze contentedly for a bit and then head home to get ready to do church all over again in the evening. We faithfully kept this up for almost six years. It was difficult eating all of that food and wallowing in all of that love, but we were determined to remain strong.
It should be no surprise that when our little family was called to a church far, far north of our first "grown-up" church, leaving Pappa and Weeta was the most difficult fact to face. They handled it with grace and we with many tears. I'll never forget those last good-byes as we loaded the children into the car and moved away.
In the years that have followed, Pappa and Weeta have stayed faithfully involved in the kids' lives and have welcomed Kate and Molly (our Yankee children) as two more of their own. Packages arrive from the south on a regular basis celebrating birthdays, holidays, back-to-school time, and many packages arrive just because. When the kids are spotted in adorable new outfits, it is most often a result of receiving a "Weeta" original in one of those care packages.
I once overheard Cole talking with another child about grandparents. Cole was saying that he had a Grandma and Grandpa, a Mamma and Pappa (pronounced Mammaw & Pappaw), and a Pappa and a Weeta. The other child asked who Pappa and Weeta were to which Cole responded, "You mean you don't have a Pappa and a Weeta?" He felt so sorry for the other kid. He thought everybody had a Pappa and Weeta. Everyone should be so blessed!
One very new little guy who arrived in February is enjoying the blessings of Pappa and Weeta these days. His name is Noah and he is Weeta and Pappa's first grandbabby that can be traced on an official family tree. Cole and Meg like to think that they got Pappa and Weeta ready for Noah and they think that they did a wonderful job.
Pappa and Weeta don't only send packages north on a regular basis, they also appear in person a few times each year (they were present for every one of Cole's first 10 birthdays). They come bearing all sorts of wonderful things from the south including but not limited to: pecans by the gallon, huge tomatoes by the box, homemade cheese straws, lots of strawberries red and sweet long before they are in season here, and bags full of coins for the kids to divide amongst themselves.
With each visit I make it a point to get out of Pappa's way in the kitchen just long enough for him to make my favorite, favorite, favorite dish because though I have the recipe and I try often, I am unable to achieve the perfection with which Pappa makes his masterpiece. Pappa and Weeta came to visit a few months ago and this time when Pappa entered "Kitchen Stadium" I was granted permission to take pictures (or rather I announced that I was going to take pictures, Pappa doesn't like pictures).
So, in the next post, I will share with you, Dear Reader, the recipe, the pictures, and the culinary joy that results when Pappa Charles comes to town!