Let’s Meet (some of) the Family

Like most people, I was born into a family that included more than just my parents. Some of those family members where photographed while holding me when I was less than a year old. So, now, almost 40 years later, those lucky individuals get to have their pictures posted on this blog.

Justin 2 weeks Playpin^

So, here I am, two weeks and six days old, napping on a blanket my Great-Grandma Smith made for me. I’m surrounded by a collection of toys that were gifted to me. I can’t recall who made the turtle (help me out here faithful family members!). But I do know that my parents had everyone sign the bottom of it when they came to see me. My mom’s Uncle Sam Lowe made sure the “O” in Lowe was right where the turtles missing butthole would be. I think Sam and I share a sense of humor.

Justin 2 weeks Howard Rhonda^

In case you forgot from the previous post, here’s another picture of my parents. My heart goes out to these two as I now know the sleepless hell they must have endured. (In case you’re wondering, my dad’s head band says LOVE and the V is red. Also, there appears to be a tall beer can on the coffee table.)

Alright, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. In an effort to maintain order, I’m going down one branch of the family tree at a time. We’ll start with my dad’s branch.

Justin 2 weeks Howard^

This is my dad, Howard. I’m two weeks old here. It looks like we were equally intrigued with each other.

Justin 3 weeks Lewis Smith^

This is my dad’s dad, Lewis. From here on he’ll be referred to as Grandpa Smith. Despite the way it looks in this picture, Grandpa Smith does have all of his head, however, due to a farming accident, he is indeed missing part of his left arm. He’s one of those guys who never slows down. Think of him as a character from a Greek play. In an effort to get him to slow down, one of the gods allows this incident that results in the loss of part of his left arm. However, this only makes him more determined and doesn’t slow him down at all. This guy is a big player in my life.

Justin 7 months Laura Belle Deem^

This is my dad’s mom, Laura Belle. I don’t refer to Laura Belle as Grandma Smith. Laura Belle is my biological grandmother, however, I only saw her a few times in my life. I didn’t know it at the time of this photo, but I had good reason to look uneasy in her arms. I’m told by the family that things with Laura Belle started off good. Then, somewhere down the line, things went bad, real bad. So, Laura Belle wasn’t a big part of my life. To be fair, at the time of this photo, things had mellowed out, but they never went back to how they were before.

Justin 9 months Randy Julie Poole^

This is Randy and Julie. Randy is one of several children of the woman who would take on the role of Grandma Smith. Randy and my dad were best friends. They worked together and Randy was the best man at my parent’s wedding. I haven’t seen Randy a lot in my life, but he’s always been nice to me. Also, I think we all look kinda awesome in this photo.

There’s more family on my dad’s side, but we’ll get to them as they show up in the photo album.

And now, for my mom’s side.

Justin 2 weeks Rhonda^

This is my mom, Rhonda. It looks like I was having a great time until that dang camera showed up.

Justin 2 weeks Don Pat Gleason^

These are my mom’s parents, Don and Pat. I’m told that my birth changed Grandpa Gleason. He was never an openly emotional man, but my birth apparently brought out an emotional side that no one had seen before. I was the first grandchild on that side of the family and Grandpa and Grandma Gleason just loved it.

Justin 5 months Don Pat Gleason (02)^

Just for fun, here’s a second photo of my Grandpa and Grandma Gleason enjoying my existence.

Justin 2 weeks Terry Sondra Gleason^

This is my mom’s older brother, Terry, and the woman who would go on to become Aunt Sondra. They had two sons and a daughter. I would pal around with them occasionally in my younger days. While my Smith features mostly resemble my dad, my Gleason features mostly  resemble my Uncle Terry.

Justin 9 months Vincent Gleason (03)^

This is Vincent, one of my mom’s two younger brothers. As is evident from this picture, my Uncle Vince and I have always dug each other. He’s probably the most art driven and creative person in my family and he’s the one I’ve related to the most through the years. Time with Vince is always good time. He lived with Grandpa and Grandma Gleason while I was growing up, so, there was no shortage of playing games, putting together puzzles, and watching movies with Uncle Vince. When I got older and started to appreciate creative endeavors such as art and writing, I realized just how much we had in common.

That is by no means a complete account of my family, but it’s a starting point. If you keep following this blog, you’ll see more new faces (and lots and lots more of mine).

Justin 9 months Work Boots^

Since you made it this far, here’s a bonus picture of me trying to dress like my dad. Who would have guessed that years later my dad and I would work together and wear the same uniforms. But we’re a ways off from that post.

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