Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Heather at Oh My Stinkin' Heck has requested stories about grandpas and since my Pappaw was my most beloved and favored grandparent, I ended up with an essay:

My daddy's dad was a very quiet man. Nanny and Pappaw would come pick me up for visits. They would keep me for days and days until my parents missed me enough to come fetch me. I can remember standing on the little stool in the bathroom next to him in the evening; he'd take out his teeth to brush them, and I'd pretend to take out mine, scrubbing the space between my thumb and fingers. I still have that little stool and even the little green toothbursh. On those nights at their house, I slept on a little cot in Pappaw's room, even though Nanny had twin beds in her room.

My Pappaw could make anything: doll houses, furniture, little old fashioned doll desks for certain little girls that desperately wanted to play school, even taking the time to measure the specific doll to make sure that she would fit in the desks.

He read his Bible everyday, slowly making his way through it again and again, year after year. My parents have his Bible, with the small slip of paper on which he recorded each time he finished reading it, only to start over at the beginning again.

He always said Grace in a very quietly mumbled voice. I don't think I ever understood what he was saying but I'll bet God did.

He was a farmer. We'd walk together and feed the chickens, turkeys, geese. He never seemed to mind this litte tag-along. And he always smelled like Old Spice.

Then we moved "a million miles away" when I was five, and I only got to see him maybe once a year.

Once when we were visiting, everyone was going to the state fair except Pappaw... until I asked him to take me. On another visit, I wanted to go fishing so he showed me where to find the big worms, walked back to the pond with me and watched as I tried in vain to catch that big fish. He had Nanny cook the three teeny tiny little fishes that I did catch; and because she cooked them, we ate them.

I think that if I asked, he would have done anything for me, made anything for me. I don't know if this was special treatment just for me or if he treated all the grandkids like this, but I don't think I want to know. It's kinda nice to feel like you might have been your favorite's favorite.

The last time I saw my Pappaw, I was a newlywed and he and Nanny were in a hospital-type nursing home. Pappaw was strapped to his wheelchair to prevent injury and his memories were mostly gone. He held my mother's hand, and occaisionally he would bring it up to kiss the back of it. In his confused mind he was still a ladies' man; even asked us "Are you girls looking for some guys?" It was sorta cute yet very sad. He quietly talked about how he needed to get home and let the cows out. I was given the bedroom suite that he made, along with a cedar chest and a painting of his horse and dog from sometime in the 1960's. I hope I have them always and can pass them on to my children; they are so valuable to me.

A few years later he passed away, but to me, he'd already been gone for a while. I missed him before he was gone. I wish my kids had the chance to meet him, spend time with him; I wish that he'd been able to meet and quietly dote on them the way he'd doted on me.

My parents only live about thirty minutes away and I take them to see my momma and daddy as often as I can. Because I want them to have fond memories of their own Granny and Pappaw.


Anonymous said...

I love the part about the teeth (dentures). I can just see you as a little girl, rubbing your imaginary teeth between your fingers.

Too sweet.

Angie McDowell Garza said...

I read/posted over at Heather's also. When I read your essay, I was also touched. We live 12 hours away from my parents and I make that long drive in the summertime for my kids to spend with their Granny and Papa, too. It's so worth it! Thanks for the post. ang