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Thursday, July 16, 2009

My True Hero

My Grandfather happens to be the greatest Grandfather that ever lived. Now, I know most of you will argue that point but I am making the declaration anyway. At the age of 87, he is still just as sharp minded as I can remember he was when I was just a tot. (yes, eons ago). Brian tells me often he hopes to be that sharp when he gets up in age, to which I respond...I wish I was that sharp now. Back to Papaw...I know he gets his 'sharpness honest because his Mom was razor sharp right up until the day she passed away at the age of 90. She raised 11 children, more or less on her own as she had outlived 4 husbands. Just to give you an idea of how great Papaw's memory is still..Just last fall, we were visiting him and he told us about several childhood stories. One was about the last time he saw his Dad before he died. He told of this story with such great detail, I could close my eyes and picture it as if I had been there myself. Papaw was just over the age of 4 when he lost his Dad. He wasn't much older than that when he saw his Stepfather die after saving two of his siblings from drowning. It was believed that his Stepfather might have had a heart attack but was never known for certain. Papaw tells so many great stories about growing up. How he teased and tortured his younger siblings, all in good fun...how his Mother wanted things quiet while they enjoyed the evening meal. It was not unusual for him to use this known fact to his advantage. Often, he would just stare at his younger brother, Uncle Walter, until Uncle Walter would screech 'Maaaaaaamaaaaa...make him stop!" Her response was usually a back hand without ever looking up. Uncle Walter has told us about Papaw hanging him on the clothes lines by his overalls. So many great stories. My favorite part is the way Papaw gets tickled every time he tells one...several times before he ever finishes. He also described to me several times the loneliness he felt as his ship left New York taking him to war. It was night and for the longest time he stared into the darkness at the Statue of Liberty until it fell from the landscape. I am so thankful he came back home. My Mother was 2 the first time he ever saw her. Papaw and Mamaw raised 6 children while he was a pastor and did construction on the side to supplement his family's income. He was never formally trained but he could build anything or fix anything that needed repair. He is so easy going and has more patience than anyone I've ever known. Even with Anne and me when we would tag along with him to Philadelphia so we could see our 'boyfriends'. We once changed all the clocks in the house so we could steal a little extra time. The next day nothing was mentioned up until it was time to leave again that evening. All he said then was "Now, you can change those clocks all you want, but I'll still know what time you get in." How did we ever think he wouldn't notice? I have learned so much from him and usually by watching his actions. He has remained faithful to God and the church all these years and has never wavered from his beliefs. He still has as much patience with my children as I remember he had for us. He still teaches me things. Things about being a parent, things about being a better person. He told me not long ago that our greatest task as a parent was to save them from themselves. I had to think about it but it made complete sense. He taught me when Haley was just a baby that children truly belong to God and it was a gift to be given the chance to raise them. It's something I have never forgotten and often when I say my prayers, I still thank God for this gift. I thank him for my Papaw for being such a great teacher. His love and wisdom are a blessing in my life and I am so lucky he is my Papaw.