Doug was able to come home to us on my father’s birthday. He was the first born grandchild in the Boshamer side of the family. Dad was so proud to hold his tiny grandson in his arms. I heard him whispering to Doug promises of a great life, “We’re gonna do great things together you and I. We’re gonna set the world on fire.”
Doug’s first few years were unremarkable, other than being a bit behind in physical development, which is common in premature birth babies. He was a beautiful little baby. His hair came in very blond and very curly. I had to give him his first hair cut before he was two because my husband got tired of everyone telling us how pretty our little girl’s curly hair was. I remember crying when I cut off his curly locks. Sadly, the curls never grew back.
Steve and I split up when Doug was two. I felt guilty about breaking up our little family, but there were just to many differences that I could not handle.
We lived, temporarily, with my parents. This of course suited my dad just fine. He loved having his little protégé greet him at the end of his work day. “Pap!!”, Doug would yell (my parents were Nana and Pap to him) as he ran to hug my father. My dad, in return, nicknamed Doug “Square Deal” after Teddy Roosevelt and always told him to ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’. He called him “Square” for short.
By the time Doug was three my father was convinced we had a genius on our hands. He’d brag about Doug’s vocabulary and about every little thing Doug did. Of course he thought his grandson was the smartest baby in the world, what grand father doesn’t?
My dad taught Doug to sing some of his old time favorite songs, such as “Me and My Shadow” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” He’d have Doug rehearse each time they were together. Dad took Doug, Mom, my sister Beth, and I to The Ranch House one evening for my birthday. The Ranch House was my father’s favorite restaurant for many years. All the waitresses made over my father and over Doug. At the end of the meal, my dad had the waitresses clear our table and used it as a makeshift stage for his tiny little grandson to perform. On cue, Doug performed for the patrons and wait staff of The Ranch House his little song and dance Dad had worked so hard to perfect. He did a little soft shoe as he sang, “Just me and my shadow, scrolling (he couldn’t pronounce strolling) down the avenue. Just me and my shaaaaadow, not a soul to tell our twoubles (troubles) to…..” When he finished his song, the entire restaurant applauded. Without being asked, Doug immediately began, “Take me out to de ballgame, take me out to de scrowd…..” It was his mispronunciation of the lyrics that made it so cute. My dad beamed.
It truly seemed like a happy time.
“…and when it’s twelve o’clock, we climb the stair. We never knock, cause nobodys there, but me and my shadow, all alone and feeling blue. Boop Boop!”