I wish I’d had a blog when my grandparents were still alive. I would have had loads of hilarious blogging material without any effort at all other than moving my fingers a few inches here & there over my keyboard. Seriously, I had the best grandparents ever.
Not the kind of grandparents that lived in houses covered in atrocious flowery wallpaper that smelled like moth balls & Ben-Gay, but rather the kind that went “gallivanting” every weekend, couldn’t stay off the road, sped around S-shaped curves like they were auditioning for Nascar & carried water or whiskey-spiked Coca-Cola in a cooler with red solo cups & Little Debbie cakes everywhere they went. Okay, so maybe the whiskey thing stopped before I was born, but it’s sort of a family legacy; couldn’t leave it out. The Granddaddy I knew carried just plain Coca-Cola in his cooler, but ask my mom and she’ll probably tell you about the whiskey. My grandmother carried water and toilet paper, but I thought it best if I devoted a post to each of them separately, so this one will be primarily about Granddaddy.
I miss my grandparents every single day & hate the thought that my children will grow up not knowing what an incredible, loving,
dysfun ctional set of great-grandparents they’re missing out on. So, naturally, I have to blog about it. You see, I’m too lazy to write all this in the journals I’ve been keeping for each of them since the day they were born. In fact, I may quite possibly have forgotten how to even write with a pen. Such is the reality of living in the digital age. (Kidding, I wrote to them yesterday, but I’m not nearly as eloquent without a cursor & a delete button.)
This is my Grandaddy. I know, I know – it’s spelled “Granddaddy” but when I was little, that’s the way I spelled it and I sort of like it without all those D’s. I didn’t walk around over-enunciating my D’s when I said it. “Grand-Daddy!” (Imagine me saying that in the most country-bumpkin voice you can conjure up.) No. In true Southern fashion, I ran my “N” & “D” together and dropped one of the Ds – I called him “Gran-Daddy.” There are better pictures of him, but I pulled this one from Facebook a long time ago and mine is currently deactivated so I can’t look for a better one.
You see that cup in his hand? It’s not soda. Okay, well, maybe a little bit of it is. Before I was born, he switched to plain Coke, but this is how I still remember him – in a button up shirt, a pair of Dickies, slicked back black hair walking around with a cup in his hand. What was in the cup is irrelevant & I can only speak about the version of him that I knew.
When we would go visit him as kids, before cell phones and all that, he would follow my mom home just to make sure we made it safely. Then, she’d wonder how she was going to know he made it safely & threaten to follow him home…it was an amusing cycle. He called all my female friends “Pretty Girl”, and in the same breath would greet the boys, “hey Ugly” which we’d all laugh about. My friends mom’s (& random women working in any store) were “Hey Beautiful!” He could make jokes with people that would be offensive coming from anyone else’s mouth, but somehow it was always okay for him. People laughed and felt at ease around him. He was quite the charmer.
And he spoiled me rotten.
He painted my fingernails, swore to me he loved the color red just because I did even though I’m pretty sure his favorite color was blue. He let me talk about all my dreams (even the stupid ones) and told me how great they were, & how he really believed they’d happen someday. He let me play with unlimited quantities of glitter and glue. He snuck me into the dog tracks in Florida and Alabama under a blanket in the back floorboard of his car and even let me pick the dogs he bet on (#1 – the red dog, for the win!) Introduced me to baseball; even though I didn’t care one bit about it I watched the Atlanta Braves with him (on mute) and he would take me outside to throw a ball around afterward. He bought me my first and only baseball glove just because we did that so often; he might even be the reason I didn’t like barbies as much as I liked “boy stuff.” He pushed me on the swing set, shot the head off a snake just for being in my general vicinity (or let someone else do it with his gun…maybe it happened more than once?) He held me when I cried.
He took me skating almost every Saturday for a couple of years when I was somewhere between the ages of 9 – 12. He showed up at so many school events he wasn’t obligated to attend, helped me with homework, cussed out poor teachers for no reason other than something they said or did made me cry (like calling me Elizabeth instead of Beth, lol). Bought a camera (as well as all the film for it) just because I randomly decided I was going to take up scrapbooking. He took me to have the film developed often so I had no excuse not to make those scrapbooks. It’s how I learned that I liked photography and eventually considered it as a potential career path.
He bought me too much junk food. Threatened my boyfriend and then – eventually – came to like him. Took me to every single doctor’s appointment my mom wasn’t available to take me to, and even some that she was…just because he wanted to. He picked me up for school in the mornings when I lived with my dad & brought me home in the afternoons. He continued doing that even after I got married (at 18) and my apartment was only a couple miles from the school. I could have walked – and as disappointed as my family was in me, I thought I’d have to – but he still just kept showing up. Every single day. He never complained about any of it. In fact, he seemed downright happy to do it. He spoke roughly to me one time in my entire life which broke my heart worse than anything else that was happening at that particular time (& there was A LOT happening), but once it was said it was over. He never used it to punish me or make me feel ashamed all over again; he just said what he needed to say and after he’d said his piece he let it go and we both moved on from there.
He drove to North Carolina to see me a few times after my husband and I moved there with our kids. I didn’t know it at the time, but he did so on a couple of those occasions so that he could give my husband money to make sure we could afford groceries and pay all our bills. James would try to pay him back, but usually he wouldn’t take it and James was instructed not to tell me…I guess because Grandaddy didn’t want me to feel like he was interfering or that he thought we couldn’t take of ourselves. He knew I was pregnant with our third and last child before I did.
He loved all of his grandchildren, and especially his great grandchildren. My first child was born on his birthday. He came to visit me (at my crappy apartment) just to see how I was doing (something he did often) and I just happened to be having contractions. My son wasn’t due for another few weeks so I didn’t realize I was experiencing contractions until Grandaddy started timing how far apart they were. The longer we sat there waiting for my husband to get home from work, the closer together they came. He was calm, but he did try to talk me into letting him go ahead and take me to the hospital. I wouldn’t leave until James got there to go with us (I think that’s the first time my Grandaddy ever did something I said instead of the opposite). He stayed at the hospital until Mr. Thoughtful was born & was one of the first few people to hold him. I’m pretty sure he claimed him the first time he held him. They loved & adored each other.
Grandaddy is the reason my son doesn’t eat food with ingredients and now I don’t even have the luxury of being mad about it. Every memory I have of them together is precious. I know they would still be just as crazy about each other now if Grandaddy were still alive…even though my son is currently in his teenage turd phase. He managed to love me unconditionally through mine; I’m sure he would be even better for his great grandchildren. The main thing I remember about him is that he gave freely and abundantly of the most important thing any of us get in life – time. He spent it mostly doing things the people he loved wanted to do, either with very little regard to what he wanted or because what he wanted was to see us happy and as long as we were, he was. I don’t think anyone else will ever measure up for me in the Dad department. He wasn’t my dad, and despite the fact that I had two of them, my Grandaddy was better than both of them combined. No offense to either of my dads – they both have their strengths & I’m grateful to them for different things – but my Grandaddy was just that phenomenal. Nobody compares. He was the glue that made our family the unique, tightly-knit construct it remains now; a huge contributing factor in how my mother was able to raise my siblings and I to be so close, rather than growing up indifferent to or hating one another like many families I know/hear of. I regret that my children won’t get to fully experience how extraordinary he was, but maybe this helps keep his legacy going.
If you’ve lost someone this close to your heart, just know that I feel you. It’s okay to grieve for them & to do so at completely random times for seemingly nonsensical reasons. Still…think of the good times and smile in remembrance of them often. I know they’d want you to. ❤