My grandfather was an interesting character who was very much loved by his grandchildren.
Even his name was unique – Clarence Earl Heaney. He went by many different names but none that had anything to do with Clarence or Earl. He was called Jerry by his wife of over 50 years, Daddin by his daughter (my mother) and Bobby by my five siblings and me. I have no idea where the names Jerry or Bobby came from, but I do know that he did not want to be called by his given name. Thus, to the outside world he was C.E. Heaney.
I remember my grandfather as being a bit portly, with very little hair, just a bit of white around the side of his head. He was always smoking a big cigar and had a huge laugh. His cigar boxes, which were very colorful, were given to his many grandchildren in which to keep their treasures. His office was in the basement of their home on Happy Hollow Boulevard. We were always welcome to visit with him in his office where he sat at his huge desk.
Bobby liked children, and his grandchildren could feel that. When we were young he came to our houses on a regular basis to push the new babies and young toddlers in a stroller. This provided our hard-working mothers with a much needed break as our families had many children. Whenever he showed up at his grandchildren’s homes, all the children in the neighborhood would come running to greet him. After being swarmed, he would pull out a large bag of candy orange slices which was stashed under his car seat. There always seemed to be enough for everyone, which is no small feat when one considers that the Omaha of my childhood had many large Catholic families.
Throughout my childhood, my Grandfather always drove a Cadillac. The color might change, the interior might be different, but it was always the same kind of very large car. When he would get a new car, he would try to convince us that it was the same as his last car, despite our protestations to the differences in design, color or mechanics (electric windows rather than roll ups).
I recall that my family bought a new house because we had outgrown the previous one as (my youngest brother was sleeping in the dining room). During this time, Bobby arrived at our house every day for two months to drive my brother and me to and from our new school. This lasted until we were finally ready to move to our new neighborhood where we could walk to school.
One of my favorite memories of Bobby is the year he convinced Santa to bring snow for Christmas. Growing up in Omaha, it seemed that we always had snow on the ground for the holiday. It was a part of the magic of the holiday. But one year when I was little, Christmas Eve day arrived and there was no snow in sight. My siblings and I, off school for the holiday, were bouncing off the walls with excitement for the big day coming up. When Bobby arrived at our home to visit, we poured out our dismay about the lack of snow. He listened to us all carefully, and then said “I just talked with Santa Claus this morning and he promised me there will be snow tomorrow”. This relieved us greatly. And sure enough, the next morning his magical promise came true! There were several inches of the white, fluffy stuff filling our yards and street. That was one of the most magical Christmas days of my life and I was especially impressed that my own grandfather had a direct line to the great Santa Claus. It was many, many years later when it finally dawned on me that Bobby had simply listened to the weather report for his snow prediction.
When remembering Bobby, beyond the big cigar and the candy, I mostly recall the feelings of warmth and of having been loved by him.
Submitted by Lorraine Langdon-Hull