One night when I was working at Lehi High, I returned home after some rehearsal or other, plopped my groceries on the counter, flipped off my shoes, grabbed the remote and stood in front of the T.V. choosing a channel. The usual routine. When suddenly I heard a muffled conversation coming from my room upstairs. The only light in the house was one I had turned on as I entered. It was so late. Who would be in my room right now? Having a conversation in the dark? I turned off the T.V. and the light. Why do we automatically reach to turn out the lights when we should be turning them all on? I got my phone out of my pocket and called my sister Paula who lived a block away, but she was not home. "There is someone in my house," I said calmly, frozen, about to pee my pants, "call me when you get home... if I'm still alive by then." So dramatic.
Of course I assumed it was someone horrible and I assumed they were robbing me...of my year supply of toilet paper or pinto beans. I owned nothing of value except my diplomas and my year supply of food (that would really only last me a couple of weeks). Even my underwear would befuddle the most perverted thief. What could they want? I listened again, they were speaking Spanish. I moved silently to the kitchen but I did not own a big knife so I pulled out two little steak knives...well, it was that or a wedding cake spatula. I moved to the bottom of the stairs. Were they... singing?
As I ascended the stairs I could tell that someone was indeed singing...in Spanish...in my room. But it sounded like they were under the bed. The nerve! Some sicko entertaining himself while he waited for me to arrive so he could...defile me? Take my dehydrated potato flakes? Whatever. No rapist would survive me. I read somewhere that if you just start laughing, it confuses them and they leave. I have an acting degree...I can turn laughter on and off like a faucet. I prepared myself to start laughing. Stair 11, stair 12, 13.... There was definitely someone singing quietly, in Spanish, in my room. The door was shut, but there were no lights coming from under it. It was pitch black.
I squeaked out "hello?" No answer. "HELLO?" The music stopped. I opened my bedroom door...now it was silent. NOW I was scared. "I've got knives," I said calmly as I entered the room, sorta wishing I had the spatula because I knew what to do with that. When I turned the corner I could see the closet light was on. But the door was shut. He was inside my little walk-in closet. I hoped he wouldn't come out dressed in my clothes. I was frozen, whoever was inside the closet was frozen. Time passed. I did NOT know what to do. I could not speak.
My brother Andy burst from the closet and I nearly fainted.
I'm sure..knowing myself, that many expletives were shouted and something about "I could have killed you, you idiot...!!! WHAT are you doing in my closet?"
He was recording a CD.
He had written a new song, and he had set up the closet as a sound studio for a sample CD that he was making for his new album. "It has perfect acoustics," he said. "Do you want to hear my new song?" No. I want to KILL you with my steak knives...right after you clean up the pee I'm standing in.
Andy is Shelton #7.
My parents lost baby #4, a full-term little girl named Katie who lived six days and then returned to her Heavenly Father to wait for and help the rest of us. Her death created a little age "gap" between the seven living siblings that divided us into two groups "the older kids," and "the younger kids."
I am the oldest, then my brother Steve and sister Paula. We make up the older kids. Katie....then Penny, who heads up the younger group, followed by JoEllen, Andy and Brad (Blog Feb. 9). Steve Paula, Penny and JoEllen married at a respectable Mormon age, hehehe, and began raising beautiful kids with beautiful spouses. My parents were getting grand kids left and right. It was nice of them to divert attention from the three losers that were over 21 and still at home.
Andy and Brad served missions for the church, returned and "twiddled their thumbs" for a few years as we say in Mormon-land. They became those men in the church that we like to call "a menace to society." Walking around ignoring all that procreation potential while they figured out what they were going to do with their lives. O!...that's a little irreverent...and funny. They brought several girls in and out of my mom's house but not many returned. (So...maybe it was our fault.) I always felt bad for any girl that was introduced to my family. Especially because having three older sisters was like having three extra critical moms instead of just one nice one. Pick-a-little, talk-a-little...pick-a-little, talk-a-little!
We employed the "squint, head cock and frown" reaction, i.e...Andy: "Jan this is (name of poor girl)." Big smile. Jan: "Oh, hey! Welcome to the Shelton's!" (wait until she's looking somewhere else...squint, cock head to the side...frown.) She won't last long. Too skinny. Too fat. Too much hairspray. Too quiet. Too bold. Too...too...there's got to be something wrong with her if she's dating Andy.
I'm just kidding of course...I have enjoyed watching my brothers become who they are. I adore them all. But because I was on my way out of the nest when the two youngest were just settling in, I got to watch them from a distance of sorts. Andy Shelton often gets confused now with my husband Andy Hunsaker, who, because my Andy married a Shelton woman that had a few notches on her belt, is also sometimes called Andy Shelton which is hilarious! (But not to him.) Truth be told, both Andy's are very similar in age, personality and perspective. If you ask me, and you didn't, the world could use a few more Andys for so many reasons.
First of all, I always thought Andy Shelton would be a stand up comedian. He always makes people laugh. When he left on his mission, he let me proof-read his farewell talk and after the very witty speech introduction, in parenthesis it said "(wait for laughter...wait for someone to shout out YOU ARE THE FUNNIEST MAN ALIVE!)" People are always surprised about that because he's also very quiet in public. The Shelton girls do all the talking in this family. The men rarely utter an unnecessary word. They don't have to. ;-) (One word is all it takes to scare the pee out of someone apparently.)
So it was VERY surprising when he came home from Honduras, where he had endured kidney stones and a world-class hurricane, carrying a guitar and singing. I always knew he could carry a tune, but this was different. This was amazing. All those years I could have used him in musicals... turns out he's the most musical Shelton of the bunch, excepting our cousin Blake.
Just kidding. Made ya' flinch though, right?
While in Honduras, he bought a cheap guitar and taught himself how to play. He also decided to crack out the voice he'd been hiding. He discovered that he could also write songs. Who knew? Soon after he was home, instead of going back to college, he had gathered a few other musicians together and they had a good band. This is where I can empathize. He wanted to become a singer/songwriter but respectable Mormon men get married, get degrees, children, mortgages. Andy needed money to produce albums.
The awesome thing about my parents is that they "go with it." Of course it is not without counsel: "Are you sure you want to be an actor/musician? Nurses/doctors make so much more money. There are always sick people." What parent wouldn't see that artsy-fartsy avenue as a path of pain and heartache? People also need to laugh, they need music. So... our goodly parents stepped back and bought a lot of play and concert tickets.
Andy and Brad lived with me for a while when other siblings were building homes and living with my parents. I had a home with extra bedrooms and a basement so it worked out to put all the menaces under one roof. Brad was in college most of the time anyway and Andy was ...in my closet, apparently. I do not do single living well so I was secretly grateful for the company and the help. Neither boy married in Mormon-time, but eventually, in God's time they did, and WOW! Those girls were worth the wait!
Andy is always the first to help someone put in a lawn, or move, or do anything for someone else. His kindness is well-known. His sacrifices, a blessing to so many. God has given him a gift and he'll always have that gift. But his priorities have changed as good men always do. While he'd probably rather be traveling around the world with a band, right now he's the children's music leader in his ward (church group). When all he wanted to do was pick up a guitar, he went back to school. When what he really wants to do is create music, he is creating an amazing family and I have no doubt that he loves being a husband and father more than he loves writing music in closets. And that's why the first time I heard "Great-Grandaddy Knew" on the radio, I cried so hard my contacts fell out.
Andy's birthday is this week and I just wanted to tell him, with my little blog, how much I love him and what a great example he has always been to me. I have seen him wrestle with life's bitter chaos, but he is not ever conquered by it for long. He is the conqueror because he knows who he is and he always involves G.O.D. Good men always do.
God also needs good men to bring children into the world. Sometimes our greatest gift to the world will be our children and the gifts they bring to the world too. There is a DNA line that works its way through the Shelton family that is very dramatic. Most likely that strain of kids was meant to come to me, but when they got tired of waiting around in the pre-earth life, they started coming down to my other siblings. That's my theory anyway. Andy's oldest son is one of them. That kid might actually be the "funniest little man alive." That kid is going to change the world.
So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brother Andy...the Modern Mormon Man. You are an example to the world. These days we could use a few more Andys.