My grandfather passed away on February 14, 1983. I remember my parents waking us up in the morning and telling us that Grandaddy was gone. I said something about him being back in the hospital and my parents had to explain that he was gone forever this time. They gave us the choice of going to school or staying home. I didn’t really comprehend at the time what was going on so I chose to go to school. I was only a month shy of 7 but I have vivid memories of sitting at my Grandmama’s kitchen table after school that day sorting through my valentines with my best friend Rachel. We had stapled together two large pieces of construction paper to make a pocket for the valentines and then glued cut out hearts on the paper. I don’t remember much else about the days surrounding my Granddaddy’s death, but I can clearly remember those moments at the kitchen table.
I wish I had been blessed with more time with my Grandaddy but I am thankful for the time that we had. I thought he was the greatest thing ever. He had emphysema and spent a great deal of his time sitting on the couch leaning forward with an oxygen mask on his face. I in turn spent a great deal of time hiding behind his back. I was painfully shy. I was the youngest of all the cousins and would get my feelings hurt quite a bit. I would run and hide behind my Granddaddy and he would threaten the older kids with the “Grandaddy stick” which was a piece of wood about 2 inches wide and 2 1/2 feet long. I still have that stick.
I stayed with my grandparents when I wasn’t in school. My Grandaddy took a wooden record player box and pulled out all the record player parts. They gave me a set of colored blocks and a set of small plastic animals and I kept them all on the record player box. If I was staying at my grandparents, the box came with me. The pink poodle was my favorite toy animal (we had a real toy poodle at the time). When I was hiding behind my Granddaddy’s back, the pink poodle would hide in the front pocket of his khaki shirt. If you haven’t guessed…I still have the record player box and the blocks. The pink poodle is in a small box on my dresser.
Even with his illness, Granddaddy still found ways to spend time with us. He would use the Granddaddy stick to point at puzzle pieces when we got stuck putting the puzzle together. He sat on his little red stool in the driveway while I searched for sharks teeth. He let us ride with him in his truck while he did farm chores. He let us ride on his lap while he drove the tractor. He held my baby dolls and let me adjust his oxygen level. He always worried about us being too cold in the room even though he needed it cold to breathe. He was a Christian and welcomed door-to-door missionaries from other faiths into his home so that he could debate religion. He loved to debate. He was a wonderful and caring man and I still miss him.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Granddaddy!