‘Tis Thanksgiving weekend and time to write my annual report.  Grab a cup of coffee, and a donut if there’s one handy, settle back and let me tell you about our Great Granddaughters!

    Linda presented us with Megan Laura-Lin on January 8th and she is a happy little bundle of fun.  She has blond hair (not much of it) and blue eyes and (don’t tell anyone) I think she looks like some of my baby pictures.  Megan can be in the middle of Anything, but get a camera and she smiles.  We probably haven’t taken more than 2000 pictures of her so far.  When we left Michigan she was crawling all over--especially after the cat.  Now she tries to get me out of the phone and makes me cry when I hear her sweet little giggles.     August 1st Katie presented us with Ashley Ilene.  Just to thwart her Grandma Nancy’s dire prediction that she would be a “high strung, fussy baby” and her Granny Kern’s prediction she would be a boy--she is a sweet, petite, cuddler with lots of dark hair, eyes that want to stay blue, and a laid-back disposition that defies explanation.  Kate picks her up like a sack of potatoes and away they go whenever the mood strikes.  Every chance I get, I sing “Jesus loves me, this I know, For my Granny tells me so” to those darling babies.  God is so good to us!  In our extended family, the “boy” Marita and Kevin expected last winter is a beautiful little girl named Georgia.  I’ve managed to get her away from Gramma Dee  once or twice.  Once, Georgia started to cry, and Marita admonished, “You don’t cry for Granny Kern.  She has Pringles!”

    Now let me tell you about our Great Granddaughter’s Grandparents.  There was a time I wondered about Lauraine and Brian and Don and Nancy as parents:  Making their kids eat “good for you” stuff or letting them eat pizza and mac and cheese by the pound or yelling at them for “nothing,” and such.  Now you should see them dote on their little girls!  Megie turns Brian into a marshmallow every time he looks at her and she is Lauraine’s lifeline.  No matter how bad Lauraine feels--and this has been a terrible year for Lauraine--Megan can make her feel better.  Nancy, who’s “raised her kids and isn’t going to baby sit” is the first to grab Ashley if she even squeaks and they walk and visit and Ashley snuggles her soft little head in Grandma’s neck.  Marathon Don takes Ashley on “adventures,” from a trip to the grocery store to a day with Gram ‘Lene, every chance he gets.  Pretty soon he’ll have her climbing mountains and running races.  If Zack decides to take Georgia up in his ultra-light thing, I’m going to get on him like ugly on ape!

    Lauraine, as I mentioned, has had a bad year.  The accident in October of 2000, which seemed to leave her unscathed, actually left her with a severe closed head injury and debilitating headaches.  We’ve spent all summer running to Lansing to the Creative Wellness Center--after the dozens of other doctors and medications failed.  The good news is, she’s getting better.  The bad news is, slowly.  Megan is her best medicine, God and time will be the Ultimate Healer.  I am so thankful just to have my daughter.  Brian was out of work for a bit and now has a new and better job.  God answers prayer.

    A wise man once told Mama, “You must love messes, you’re always in one.”  It runs in the family.  That’s the news on Tommy for this year.  Use your imagination.  Patty, Jim, Tommy Jr. and the rest of their crew stay busy and are beginning to plan ahead for retirement.  They Can’t be that old, can they?

    For the further Adventures of Marathon Don, go to  There are pictures and stories of his trips.  There are also family pictures--Mama’s Birthday, Ashley, and some of the rest of us.  While his mother swims and neglects her writing “career,” Don is writing--and selling--stories.  I’m so impressed.  Donald II got his Associates Degree from Ferris this summer and is back to finish his Bachelors in Automotive Engineering. 

    If I could catch up with Jack, I’d give you news of his family.  I know for sure--the boys are nearly grown and Jeremy will graduate in the spring and I don’t think Jack has broken any important parts of his body lately.  If, as Mommie always declared, “Busy people are happy people,” Jack, Susie, Jeremy and Eric are euphoric.

    John and Connie travel the (mostly southwestern and western) states in a truck.  The kids are doing well in school--Cousin Linda Jones looks after them, and Grandmother, too  Speaking of whom, Lillian is still working, though she had surgery on her leg shortly before we left for Florida.  John wishes he were in the thick of the world’s problems.  I’m glad he isn’t, but I understand why, when he trained for 24 years to be in a war, he feels he should be there now.     Terry came up and went to lunch with us after we got here and tells us Caroline and John Jr. are doing well and stay busy.  We didn’t get to see them at all last winter.

    Debbie and Tom’s children are spread all over the map:  Jacob works out east, Anna is in college in Texas, Tony is on the farm with them.  So, having learned from the best (me) Debbie “adopts” children and grandchildren and then brings them for us to love, too.  We are especially fond of Cole and Cooper Cummings.  Cole loves to get Grampa Wes wet when he comes swimming.  Debbie and I get together more when I have swim classes at the house.  In fact, I keep track of a lot more friends and family when I work at keeping them--and me--busy in the pool.  Good for the body, good for the spirit, good for friendships.    

    This winter is starting out much warmer than last winter.  It better stay that way:   Last winter was perfect for planting silk flowers.  So far this year, I’ve set out 16 impatients, a pastel of petunias, some herbs and two tomato plants.  Wes is so thrilled with all those plants to keep watered!  If it decides to freeze, woe be unto me.  One of the Ground Moles that plague Wes in Michigan must have packed his bags and hitched a ride to Florida as he was merrily making tunnels through our yard when we got here.  He won’t be making the return trip!  

     We are bowling--badly--again this year, I’m swimming and teaching some classes.  Need to start going to the Y again, too, especially since I’ve already paid for it.  Mama and I do the “All States Club” bit and go to lunch occasionally.  Today we went to Miss Lottie’s Tea Room for soup and sandwich.  Not Wes’s “cup of tea.”  Ha  Some days she thinks she isn’t, but I think Mama is doing wonderfully well.  She rides bike and walks a couple of miles (at least) most days.  She still goes out for two breakfasts most mornings, fusses with her flowers, dances on Friday nights.  She is blessed with the good health and resources to make her life comfortable.  She would Like a daughter that is a little more attentive, but she’s stuck with me.  Win a few, lose a lot.

    You know I could go on for pages, but Christmas will come and go if I don’t wrap this up.  The world changed drastically this year; many lives will never be the same. My corner of the world changed drastically, too, not from terrorists, but from the natural course of time.  Aunt Ginny Wonser died, and Ken Smith, Keith Van Houghton, Dick Yarhouse, Jesse VanSyckle, Mable Martin, and others I will always miss and remember fondly.   There are “new” people in my world, too--several babies in addition to the aforementioned, a wonderful new minister, Brett Coney, and his family at the Barryton Church, some old friends who reappeared in my life.  As if all that weren’t enough, sister Vickie and husband Hersh are looking for their first grandchild for Christmas (Stacie Lynn is having a boy) and we are looking for Lauraine, Linda, Megie, Andrea and sister Mary to visit here soon after Christmas.  We are so blessed!

    May you have a joy-filled, peace-filled, love-filled Holiday Season. Remember to say your prayers. God always answers.  Don’t forget to thank God for your many blessings; I’m sure He likes the gratitude.    We send our love and wish you all many blessings in 2002.

      In an effort to keep this epistle to two pages, I left out many of the fun things that happened in the Kern Family Life this summer.  If you would like the complete and unabridged version next year, be sure I have your email address or send extra money for postage--the rates will probably go up again, ya know.