With Granddaddy, life couldn't be better. Ice cream was always on the nightly menu. My stuffed animal collection was never too big for one more trip to KB Toys, especially when the giant, stuffed Albino gorilla sat on the shelf (You know… The time in life when you go through wanting to be a zookeeper for albino gorillas, because the one at KB Toys is so fluffy and sweet.. it happens). When cracking pecans from the pecan trees, eating more than we should was okay. John Wayne was our hero. Hardee's biscuit and gravy was served promptly when we woke up. Listening to the story about his job at the donut shop or his paper route was expected. For me, I knew that our special, extended bed time was promptly at 10pm, but I also knew he would listen to me ramble about anything and everything before he or I drifted off to sleep. He would be present at programs big or small…always smelling like Stetson (my favorite) and with a proud grin on his face! You could count on remarkable paint jobs for vehicles that needed a new look. His grass always looked pristine and flowers would be ready for each season. You knew a stray cat would be lurking nearby for the cat food he always had on hand. You knew that cards would come on Valentine's and Easter, and the date would be written on the card. Along with the card, there would be a stuffed animal that matched the particular season. That was always a plus! You knew that church and family were important. Quiet faith was reflected in a very big heart.
We all know that he loves us.
There has never been a doubt in my mind that Granddaddy would or did give everything he felt we needed and/or wanted. Growing up in a mill village, during the Great Depression, made him a man bent on providing and giving those that followed him every opportunity to excel. He married his high school sweetheart, and they had two spectacular and selfless daughters. He always encouraged education and working hard. He knew about hard work and what it felt like to come home after a long day. He worked in the boiler room of Navy tug boats and painted Army tanks. He also knew and spoke about the joy of having my Auntie and mama as daughters. But, oh…grandchildren. Ask him about his car tags that say "Let me tell you about my grandchildren" or the one that says "If I knew grandchildren were so fun, I would have had them first." Those are real. I can show you, because those sentiments are true. He has loved us all with all of his heart.
More importantly, he has loved Jesus. When the time comes, he will wake up and see his face. He will stand complete without any pain he has suffered the past several years and these past couple of weeks. He will be reunited with his girl, Polly. He will been given sight to his faith. How we long for him to stay. We want to love on him, to watch John Wayne with him, or bake pecan pies with him. While it is heart breaking for us, what a glorious thought that he is close to our resurrected Jesus and will be for ages and ages to come.
It is hard to let go. It hurts to let go. We do not want to let him go. With Easter approaching, we can be grateful. As a family bent on hope, we are staring death in the face and saying "No! You cannot and will not win this fight. Granddaddy belongs to Jesus, because Jesus paid it all. So, move over and let him and us walk into His glorious light." Though they will be different steps, heavenly steps for Granddaddy and earthly steps for us, we will be closer than we were before. Jesus will be drawing us to himself.
The same little blonde has grown to 22 years of age. In her heart, she is saying "Don't argue me, Granddaddy. You have taken care of us and loved us to the best of your ability. Now it is time for us to return the favor. Let us be protector for the time we have, until Jesus bids you come home. We love you."
*There are boy cousins too, but there is a lot more estrogen in this family. :) Fellas, if you need help with girls, be like granddaddy!