Sunday, August 31, 2008

Papa, Can You Hear Me?

End of summer back to school time always makes me think of my grandpa.  My papa died 19 years ago.

He was raised in Kentucky on a family farmstead, but moved here for work when he was young.  He met my grandma here too.  After he served 3 years on the frontlines in WWII, they married and started a family.

After they both retired, they moved back to the farm in Kentucky.  I would spend my summers there with them helping them care for the animals and just having fun.

I joke that I am a country girl at heart because I spent so much time there and fell in love with the South and Southerners.  We fished, picked fresh watermelon and blackberries, baked pies, canned fruit, tended the fields, slopped the hogs, fed the horses and mowed the expanse of lawn on an old riding lawn mower.  The memories I have of that time are stronger and more precious than any other in my life.

I always think about my papa on three different occasions more than any other.  The day he died, which is the same as my niece’s birthday.  The Fourth of July because that was his absolute favorite holiday.  When the kids go back to school because back to school time was when I always had to leave him.

I was very close to him.  At the same time, I didn’t know so many things.  I didn’t know the details of his life.  I knew what mattered though.

I knew that he loved me.  I knew that he loved his family.  I knew that he always wanted to look nice and everything had to be just so.

I knew that he got up before the sun every morning and liked to drink his coffee boiling hot before heading out to do his chores.  I knew that he rarely drank alcohol, but when he did, he would get surly.  I knew that he had patience beyond compare, but there were certain things he would not tolerate.

I knew that he loved my grandma and did things just for her.  I knew that he loved leftover meatloaf sandwiches.  I knew that he couldn’t have salt because of his heart.

I knew that he needed me to help him as much as he enjoyed me helping him.  I knew that he was a true Southern Gentleman.  I knew there would never be anyone that could hold a candle to him in my life again.

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