He had a belly laugh that made everyone else in the room start to laugh. It was infectious. The first thing he really giggled over was my long hair waving back and forth. Since he had none, he must have thought it hilarious. He laughed, and laughed, and laughed. I was in love. Later, that big laugh would get him in trouble at school, because when he started laughing, the whole class would start in.
He started humming and singing before he could talk. Always on pitch. The Christmas before he turned two, he could sing Silent Night better than most adults. It never failed to amaze me. When he would wake in the night, many times he would crawl out of his crib, switch on the light, turn on his record player, and rock and sing "It's A Small World" or whatever other record he wanted to hear until he was sleepy again. I would hear his little voice singing away down the hall, and I could see the light on under his door. After a few minutes, the music would stop, the light would go off, and he'd crawl back in his crib and go back to sleep.
He was 3 when Katie was born. His Katie. If I scolded him, he would go and lay his head on her tummy where she lay in her baby carrier, and take solace from her. He gradually had friends in the neighborhood, but still tolerated his little sister tagging along after him. He was a kind little boy, always sticking up for his friends. At least that's how I remember him when he was young. His brother and sister may have different memories, but I prefer to remember my tow headed little boy with the big laugh as having a sensitive and kind heart. When he saw the movie ET, he cried when he thought ET died. He saw it a second time and cried again. I've always loved that about him.
I used to help in his classroom at school. I helped with the art projects, and it was my favorite day of the week. I loved seeing him in his class. In whatever grade it is where they make models of the California missions (3rd grade?) we worked together and made a mission out of sand. Like a sand castle. It was held together with starch instead of water and it was pretty good. It weighed about 2 tons, though. We got it on the bed of the truck and slowly, SLOWLY got it to school. It lasted a day in the class, until one of his classmates tripped over it and broke it. But it was a good project that we had fun doing. Well, I probably had more fun than he did. (Yes, I'm one of THOSE parents... sue me.)
When he was in 6th grade he wanted to be Wolfman for Halloween. I bought him a crazy hairy wig and did a makeup job on him so complete that no one recognized him. That was a good Halloween. That was the year that Katie was a witch (also unrecognizable - I went crazy with the makeup that year!) and Scott was a Mutant Ninja Turtle. There are days when I long to have those little children back - just for a day or so.
Rex and Katie in the Christmas Eve nativity, 1980-something
And now look at them...
He played French horn in band. His horn teacher said he was one of the most talented students he'd ever had. I loved to hear him play. He auditioned for, and was accepted into a junior youth symphony for two years in a row. I would haul him to Cypress College once a week for practices, and every year there was a wonderful year end recital at Chapman College. I had dreams of him playing professionally, but alas - football won out, and the horn got set aside in favor of the pigskin. We must all follow our own dreams, not the dreams of our parents.
His high school days are a blur. Football games every Friday night. One spectacular Reebok Bowl game that was televised. And there was Rex, the starting center. My heart was bursting with pride. He drove an old gold 80s Buick that I'd bought from my dad. He called it the Hoopty, and it held all of his friends and then some. School dances, getting him ready, so handsome. Graduation, tears, realizing that my little boy was not my little boy any more.
He served a two year mission for our church in Columbus, Ohio. In later years, when my husband and I were in that same area of Ohio where he'd served, I had Rex on the phone and he was remembering landmarks and telling me to look for this, and do you see that? I was so proud that he'd spent his time so well there.
Rex and Ronna's engagement photo
Years go by, life happens, and now Rex is a husband and father with four little ones of his own. And he's such a good daddy. And a good husband. Nothing is more important to him than Ronna and the kids. He's overcome such obstacles - all because of love for his family. He's learned that life can sometimes be hard, and many times harsh, but that with faith and perseverance anything is possible.
Rex and Lexi (5 months)
Rex and Matthew
Ronna, Lexi and Rex - Lexi is Daddy's girl
Rex and Matthew, 2010Lexi and Rex, 2010
Rex & Lexi - bedtime snuggle
Happy Birthday, Rex. I couldn't love you more.