The Memories of an Old Man.

by Arnold Nelson

This story was never intended for my site. It was intended only for Jaymi on the occasion of her 27th birthday last January. I felt it was too personnel. Jaymi said share it with everyone. So that is what I am doing.

These are some of the memories of an old man.

These memories may not be 100% accurate but,

they are the way I remember them. I am putting

them down in the form of a memory book, so

that you may look at them and remember

all the good times we had.

I know you are too young to remember most of

them. They are all etched into my memory. I

think about them often and remember all the

good times. My love for you and your love for

me is stronger than I ever thought possible.

I don't think I could have loved you more if you

were actually my daughter.

This is for Jaymi Erin Moore on the occasion of

her 27th birthday. January 30, 2017.

Arnold Nelson

There are two songs I want to insert in this story because the songs mean so much to me. The first is called "In My Daughters Eyes". It was written by James Slater. It was sung my Martina McBride. She had a big hit with it in 2004.

IN MY DAUGHTERS EYES

In my daughter's eye I am a hero

I am strong and wise and I know no fear

But the truth is plain to see

She was sent to rescue me

I see who I want to be

In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal

Darkness turns to light and the

World is at peace

The miracle God gave to me gives me

Strength when I am week

I find reason to believe

In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand

around my finger

Oh it puts a smile in my heart

Everything becomes a little clearer

I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart

has had enough

It's giving more when you feel like giving up

I've seen the light

It's in my daughters eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future

A reflection of who I am and what will be

Though she'll grow and someday leave

When I'm gone I hope you see how happy

She made me

For I'll be there

In my daughter's eyes

When I used to sing it with the radio I change some of the lyrics. I change "In my daughter's eyes" to "In my Jaymi's eyes." It makes it more personal for me.

The other song is called "I Loved Her First" I will put it at the end. I always thought it would be nice to play it at Jaymi"s wedding.

It all started in December of 1989 when Cindy came up to me and asked me if I would be the godfather to her daughter Jaymi. I did not even have to think about it. It sounded like a lot of fun and I never had been a godfather before. So I said yes. That was a decision that changed my life forever. I could not imagine anything so beautiful as being godfather to that beautiful little girl. Jaymi was born on January 30, 1990 a day I will never forget, because my boss changed my vacation I was on vacation when Jaymi was born. When I got back to town the next day I found a message from Cindy telling me she had Jaymi. So I rushed over to see her. I don't think there has ever been a more beautiful baby. Right away Jaymi and I had made the connection. A connection that I don't think we'll ever be broken. Jaymi was mine and I was hers and there was no way around that.

When Jaymi was one year old, Cindy and I took Jaymi and her brother T.J. to Disneyland. It was a lot of fun. We had a stroller for Jaymi, but I carried Jaymi most of the time. Cindy asked me once why I was carrying her when she could walk. I said "I know but I enjoy carrying her." T.J. got tired late in the afternoon and he crawled in the stroller. Towards the end of the day we were waiting to watch the parade and Cindy decided to go potty so I kept an eye on the kids. Jaymi did not like Cindy leaving. She cried and carried on until Cindy was out of sight. After that it didn't matter she was happy again. As soon as we saw Cindy coming back Jaymi started crying and was carrying on again. When Cindy was about 5 feet from us I let Jaymi go and she ran to Cindy.

One thing I never could understand is how Jaymi's father to turn his back on her. How could you turn your back on someone as beautiful as Jaymi? Through the years Jaymi tried to make contact but her father refused to have anything to do with Jaymi. Cindy had a party once for some of his relatives she asked me to be there, so I was. It was a nice party but her father was not there. I had given them a wagon and during the party Jaymi was sitting in the wagon. I was pushing the wagon back and forth. One time I pulled a little too hard and Jaymi fell out of the back of the wagon and hit her head. She cried a little bit but not very long. Jaymi was a tough little girl, pain never bothered her. It might slow her down but it would never stop her.

One time shortly after the party Cindy found out she had mice in her house so she set up a bucket to catch the mice so she could let them go in the field next door. She didn't want to kill the mice, she just didn't want them in her house. One morning Jaymi got up before Cindy and looked in the bucket and a little mouse was in there. Jaymi started playing with the mouse, the mouse bit her finger, her finger was bleeding but she didn't care she was having fun playing with the mouse. Cindy got up and saw what was happening and grabbed Jaymi and took her to the emergency room to get the wound taking care of and a shot so the Jaymi would have no complications from the mouse bite.

Cindy took the kids and moved about 80 miles away shortly after that. I used to go up about every two or three weeks and spend the weekend with them. I used to lay on the floor and Jaymi would climb all over me and jump on me, we a great time. One day I said "Jaymi your a little monkey aren't you." Jaymi answered "I'm not a monkey, I am a little girl." Jaymi's mental age was always a lot older than her physical age. One day when I went visiting, Jaymi wasn't jumping on me. I asked her why. She said "Mommy said I am getting to big and I might hurt you." I didn't like it but I agreed with it.

Neither one of us had a lot of money, but if one of us had money that weekend we would go somewhere. There was a mall in town called the Carousel Mall, it had a great buffet and we used to go there a lot. Every time we went Jaymi would say "I get to ride the carousel." So after we ate we always took time so Jaymi could ride the carousel. Jaymi and T.J. also like to go to the toy store and play with the toys we let them play for a little bit and then Cindy would say "time to go." The kids were not in any hurry to leave so Cindy would say "This one's mind that one's yours." Then she would pick up T.J. and I would pick up Jaymi and we would carry them out of the store. When TJ got bigger, too big to be carried, Cindy would just drag them out of the store.

One time we went to an amusement about 30 miles away. We had a lot of fun walking around and riding the rides. Cindy wanted to go on a ride for big people. Jaymi said "I want to go too." They would not let her get on because she was too short. She was upset. So I said "Jaymi how about a ride on the carousel while we wait for your mom and T.J." She agreed and we walked over to the carousel and she got her ride, after that she was happy again.

It didn't matter where I was going, Jaymi wanted to go too. One day I had to do a little banking while I was with them. Of course Jaymi wanted to go along. I said "Jaymi you will miss seeing Vic." (Vic was T.J.'s father who was picking him up for a visit.) Jaymi said "I don't care he's not my father."

Like I said Jaymi was very smart for her age.

Jaymi used to love to be in the apartment pool. Every time I was there she wanted me to go in the water with her. Most of the time I did. It was hard to say no to Jaymi. One time a little friend of Jaymi's was in the pool with us. I would stand about 5 feet from the edge she would jump in and swim to me. I would turn her around and she would swim back to the age. Climb out and to it all over again. We were having a great time. Jaymi was standing on the steps because she did not know how to swim. One time I looked back at here and she wasn't there. She was under the water. So I got across the pool as fast as I could. About halfway across the felt the little girl leave my arms and swim to the edge. When I got to Jaymi I reached down and picked her up. She was sputtering and crying. I held her for a few minutes until she calmed down a little. When I put her down she ran out of the pool and over too her mother. Her mother asked here what she thought she was doing when she knew she couldn't swim. Jaymi said something that broke my heart. She said "I wanted my uncle." After that Jaymi did not like swimming pools.

One time a friend offered Cindy a little house to live in. The house was in his backyard. Cindy spent a lot of time cleaning up that house and then had Vic and some friends clean up the backyard so the kids would have somewhere to play. I visited them there once I had not planned to stay the night that time but Jaymi got a stick in her eye and we took her to the hospital to get checked out. They said bring her back the next day when some of the swelling went down. I stayed that night so I could take Jaymi back to the hospital in the morning. There was no food in the house so just after dark I said "I am going for a walk I will bring back some food. Jaymi wanted to go with of course. Cindy and I both said it was too late for her to be walking around. It was not a very good neighborhood. So after a few blocks I found a grocery store and bought some food. I remember buying dates because I love dates I don't remember what else I bought. The kids did not likes dates so I got to eat all the dates myself. The next morning we took Jaymi back to the hospital. The Dr. said there was no serious damage and Jaymi would be fine. That was a big relief for both Cindy and me. A few weeks after they moved in, it rained. I don't know if the foundation was cracked or what but the inside of the house was under water. They moved out in a hurry and back to the apartments.

I was a messenger and worked out of my car all day. So one day I decided to tape Jaymi's picture on the dash. When she saw it she loved it. One time I bought a new car and drove up to see them and show off my new car. Jaymi was sitting in the car and she said "Where's my picture?" I said "I just bought the car and didn't have time to put a picture in yet." Jaymi accepted my answer. The next week I came up to take them to Disneyland I brought my camera and the tape. When I got there I took her picture and taped it to the dash. Jaymi was happy again.

We were standing in line for the Star Wars ride and Jaymi decided she didn't want to go on it. So I said you don't have to go on it. She kept saying she was not going on it so I said "Jaymi, we will wait in line with your mom and T.J. And when they go on the ride they have another door that we can go through and it will lead us outside." After that Jaymi calmed down. When we got to the front of the line I told the lady Jaymi is not going on the ride. So she showed us the exit as Cindy and T.J. got on the ride. We walked around the building and waited in the gift shop by the exit for the ride. Jaymi liked looking around the gift shop. Later we were going to take the train around Disneyland. Part of the train trip goes by the dinosaurs. When Jaymi heard that she said "I don't want to see the dinosaurs they spit on you." I have no idea when she got that but we explained that the Disneyland dinosaurs were good and they did not spit. We also explained they were behind glass. So even if they did spit, which they won't, they can't possible get you. So Jaymi finally agreed to go on the train with us. I think she enjoyed it.

A few weeks later I was visiting and T.J. said "You know Uncle Arnold there is room right here you could put my picture next to Jaymi." So to make T.J. happy I put his picture on my dash too.

One time Cindy and I were talking and I said "How would you and the kids like to go to Yosemite." She said OK so a few weeks later we went to Yosemite for a week we all had a great time. I love Yosemite. We rented was is called a housekeeping cabin. It is part cabin and part tent. We made friends with the people next to us. One afternoon I heard Jaymi in the neighbors cabin. They were going to play cards and she wanted to watch but they didn't want here in there with them. Finally I called Jaymi out and talked to her and explained that the family want some time with just their family. Like her family does sometimes. She finally understood what I was saying and went off to play and left the family alone.

Jaymi and T.J. Are the same in some ways and completely different in others for example, Take Jaymi to a store and she knows almost as soon as she gets in the door what she wants. T.J. has to study everything before he finally makes a decision. We went to a gift shop in Yosemite and Jaymi pick up a raccoon she wanted. So I said OK and told T.J. he could spend the same amount of money. It took him a long long time to finally decide on something. A few years later I heard T.J. got mad at Jaymi and fed the raccoon to one of their dogs. Jaymi was heartbroken. On the way home from Yosemite we stopped and looked at the giant Sequoia trees. Cindy told the kids to stand by one of the trees while she took their picture. She did it to show perspective. The kids were so small you almost needed a magnifying glass to see them standing next next to the giant trees.

When Jaymi was 17 or 18 we got back to Yosemite I got to the campsite first the others arrived two at a time. I think we had 9 all together. We were camping a little bit north of Yosemite and were going to take a bus to Yosemite the next day. When I was walking up to the little store to get my bus ticket I heard "UNCLE ARNOLD" I turned towards the voice and as soon as I did Jaymi was in my arms. They had just driven in. The next day we got on the bus to Yosemite. The bus had mechanical problems so he dropped us off at a restaurant in town. Then he took the bus back to the shop and sent another bus for us. We got to Yosemite late so we only had a couple of hours there. First thing Jaymi did was buy another raccoon. Jaymi loves stuffed animals.

One day I came to visit, Cindy was working and T.J. was in school. They had year around school and it was Jaymi's turn to be off. So I took Jaymi and went where Cindy was working. I told Cindy I was kidnapping Jaymi for the day. Cindy didn't care. She knew anytime Jaymi was with Uncle Arnold she was fine. It didn't matter what we did. Cindy trusted me completely with Jaymi. I took Jaymi miniature golfing. It was really too hot for golfing but we did it anyway and had a lot of fun. I was going to keep score but after the first hole I realized it was useless to try to keep score. Jaymi had her own rules and her own way of playing so I just let her go. After wards we went into the arcade we each got a soda and cooled down. After we cooled down I said "Jaymi, lets go eat." She was ready to eat. So I took her to a restaurant and we were looking at the menu. Jaymi said "Do I have to order off the children's menu?" I said "No, you can have anything you want." She like that. After that I took her home.

Another time I was there and it was just Jaymi and me, she said she wanted to make lunch for us. I guess Jaymi was about 8 or 9. So I said go for it. She made us a great lunch. I forgot what it was but I enjoyed it and she was happy because she could make lunch for her uncle.

I kidnapped Jaymi one other day and took her to the top of the Palm Springs Tramway. It was very cold up there and very beautiful. We walked around a little, then I said "Lets get some hot cocoa." She liked that idea. While we were in line I said "Jaymi, would you get us a table and would you please take my coat with you." So she did. A few minutes later I came over with the hot cocoa. It was good. After we got done I said "I am going outside to look at Palm Springs. Do you want to come." She said no she would wait inside for me. So I started putting on the coat that was on my chair and Jaymi started laughing. I looked and it was Jaymi's coat. She said I looked so funny trying to put her coat on. I got my coat and went outside to enjoy the view. It is a beautiful view by the way. It is one of my favorites. Then we got back on the tram and headed down the mountain. We walked to the front of the tram where I like to stand. I put my arms around her and held her all the way down the mountain. It felt so good having Jaymi in my arms. It felt so right. For about 20 minutes it felt like Jaymi and I were the only ones on the planet. It was great. It is hard to put into words all the feeling going through my head going down that mountain. When we got down I took her to a restaurant for lunch. There was a big dinosaur in the parking lot of the restaurant as soon as we got there she asked if we could go see it. After we ate "I said get in the car and I will drive you around and you can take a close look at it." She agreed. So I drove slowly around the dinosaur while she took it all in.

I never knew why the dinosaur was there, it was there every time I stopped at that restaurant. I recently looked it up on the internet. A man who worked for Knotts Berry Farm bought the restaurant and he build the dinosaur to attract visitors to his restaurant. I never saw anyone around it all the times I ate at that restaurant. I heard it was made into a gift shop and a T-Rex was added later.

I was just thinking about a Christmas when Jaymi was about 5 or 6. I came to visit. Cindy and her boy friend went to work. T.J. was with his father for Christmas. So it was just Jaymi and me. I said "Jaymi, this year we will do something different. I will take you to Toys-R-Us and you can pick out your own Christmas present." Jaymi loved that idea. I said "First I am taking you out to breakfast. Do you know where IHOP is?" (I had an idea but was not sure). Jaymi said "Sure." So we got in the car and she gave me directions. Her directions were right on. Jaymi never ceases to amaze me. After we had breakfast we were driving to Toys-R-Us. Jaymi said "I know exactly what I want." When we got there Jaymi took me over and showed me a castle. If you take the castle apart it becomes a tea set. She said that was what she wanted. So I bought it for her. I said "We are going to the Carousel Mall. I would like to buy you a Disney dress. So she agreed. I put her on the carousel and while she was riding I walked off for a quick minute. When Jaymi got off the carousel she said "you disappeared, where did you go." I told her I wanted to make sure where the Disney store was. So we went to the Disney store and she picked out a dress. I told her to try it on. So she did. She came back a little bit later and said it fit. So we bought it. As we left she said "Mom wants a Chia Pet Spice Garden." So we checked a couple of stores on the way back but they were sold out.

After I brought Jaymi home and Cindy came home from work I told them I had one more place I had wanted to go. So I went there and they had the Chia Pet Jaymi wanted for her mother. I bought it and when I got back I called Jaymi over and showed her what I had. She got a big smile on her face and said "Thank You." Then she grabbed the bag and hid it in her bedroom. The next day I went and visited my Dad (He lived a short distance from Cindy.) I told him all Jaymi and I did the day before and all the fun we had. He enjoyed hearing about it. Then I said "Dad I have a problem, I spent so much on Jaymi I don't think I have enough money for gas to get home. Could you give me some money?" He did.

I went back to see Cindy and the kids. When I was ready to go home they asked me to stay 1 more night and leave in the morning. So I agreed. When I got on the freeway the freeway was empty I could not understand it. When I started to go up in the pass I hit a snowstorm. The freeway had about a foot of snow on it. There was 1 lane cleared. So I got in that lane and stayed there. I figured the only thing to do was keep going forward and hope for the best. Just over the pass my windshield wipers quit because of all the snow. I had to stop once right in the lane to brush the snow off the windshield. Finally I got past the storm and the freeway opened up again. I was sure glad to get out of the pass that day. I guess they closed the pass but I never knew it.

Another time just before I moved to Arizona I took Cindy and the kids to Las Vegas to see Cindy's cousin Brenda. We had a great time driving around and seeing all the sights. Then we left the kids with Brenda. Cindy and I did a little gambling. After we finished gambling we went back to Brenda's. The kids were having a great time. Brenda took them to McFrugals which is now Big Lot's and they each picked out a toy. On the way out of town we stopped at the Mirage to see the dolphins. On the walk to see the dolphins the kids were asking if they could actually go in and see the dolphins. Cindy said "We will probably just look through the fence." Right after that that I stopped at the ticket booth and got tickets for us to go in. The kids had a great time. While Jaymi was watching the dolphins I was standing next to her. I took a step backwards so I was out just of her sight. When she realized I was not next to her she started screaming "Where's my uncle, I want my uncle." I quietly said "Jaymi." She quieted right down but she did not let me out of her line of sight for the rest of the day.

One day I was in Sacramento visiting them. I was talking about "Old Town Sacramento and how much I wanted to see the train museum there." I heard it was one of the best in California. Jaymi said "I know where it is, lets go." Cindy said it was all right but we had to be back early because Jaymi had a Doctors appointment in the afternoon. So we went. We got there and looked at the other things as we walked down the street. Finally we got to the train museum but it was starting to get late. So we went in and just looked at the main exhibits then we had to leave. A couple of years later when Jaymi was about to graduate from high school. I told Jaymi I would like to be there for her graduation. She loved that idea. So I flew up and spent a week with them and watched Jaymi walk across the stage and pick up her diploma. It was fantastic. A couple of days later we were talking with Jaymi's grandmother Sandy (who is my sister) and I said I would like to go back to the train museum because I didn't get to see much the last time. So Sandy drove me over and of course Jaymi went with. We went in and Sandy went one way and Jaymi and I another. We spent the afternoon looking at everything from Full sized cars and beautiful place settings to model trains and everything in between. We just had the best time. Walking around and talking. I don't know how much Jaymi likes trains but she loves me enough to share my passion. After all isn't that's was love is. Sharing someone else's passion.

I don't have much money but I am very rich. My cup is running over with love. It all started with five little words (Would you be Jaymi's God-father). I love you very much Jaymi.

Uncle Arnold

I loved her first was written by Walt Aldridge and Elliot Park.

It was a big hit for the band Heartland

I LOVED HER FIRST

Look at the two of you dancing that way

Lost in the moment and each other's face

So much in love, you're alone in this place

Like there's nobody else in this world

I was enough for her not long ago

I was her number one, she told me so

And she still means the world to me

Just so you know

So be careful when you hold my girl

Time changes everything, life must go on

And I'm not gonna to stand in your way

I loved her first

I held her first

And a place in my heart will always be hers

From the first breath she breathed

When she first smiled at me

I knew the love of a father runs deep

And I prayed that she'd find you some day

But it's still hard to give her away

I loved her first

How could that beautiful woman with you

Be that same freckled face kid that I knew?

The one that I read all those fairy tales to

And tucked into bed all those nights

And I knew the first time I saw you with her

It was only a matter of time

I loved her first

I held her first

And a place in my heart will always be hers

From the first breath she breathed

When she first smiled at me

I knew the love of a father runs deep

And I prayed that she'd find you some day

But it's still hard to give her away

I loved her first

From the first breath she breathed

When she first smiled at me

I knew the love of a father runs deep

Someday you might know what I'm going through

When a miracle smiles up at you

Yeah, I loved her first

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