Wednesday’s Ode #37

Today, I would like to dedicate this Ode to a man who has always been very special in my life, and who will always hold a special place in my heart; even though, I had to say goodbye to him 13 years ago…my grandfather, aka Pa”T”.

Although, it has been 13 years ago (October 6), it feels like forever since I held his strong hands and kissed his cheek. My heart still yearns to see him again. My ears long to hear him say, “I love you, baby.”  My arms still desire to wrap around his big ol’ frame and receive a great big bear hug from him. I miss him so much. Time doesn’t erase the pain; it just makes the pain tolerable to live through.

You see, Pa”T” was not just my grandfather, he was like a Daddy to me, the only dad I really knew until my mom married my step-dad when I was 12. Pa”T” always looked out for me. He always made sure I was doing ok in school, at home, at church; wherever I was, he wanted to make sure I had everything I needed or even wanted.

He was always proud of me, and he always wanted me near. He taught me how to listen to a good story (and he could tell some great ones!), catch and clean fish (well, at least how to watch them get cleaned! ha!), how to take care of my money and even how to act around strangers. He taught me how a man should treat a woman, and how he shouldn’t. He even taught me how to pay bills by buying my first car and then sending me a check each month to deposit into my own checking account so that I could send off the payment.

He loved going on an adventure, exploring a new town, finding a new experience, and never met a stranger. Often, my grandmother and I would go in a mall or plaza to shop for a while, and we’d always come out to find he had made a new friend. He would proceed to introduce us to this person and tell you some of the most interesting things about them, as if, he had known them for a very long time. He liked meeting all sorts of people, but he had standards of character. He didn’t care for rude, hateful, lazy or user-type people. He believed in hard work and earning your own keep. He believed a man should provide for his family, and a wife should love and take care of her babies; yet, he didn’t believe so much in tradition that he would look down on a couple whose momma had to go to work either, just so long as those babies were taken care of!

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He sure loved his “little buddy!” (2001 – Pa”T” and JGrizz)

I’ll never forget the moment he met Joey. We were all kind of nervous, because he could “size someone up” real fast, and if he didn’t like my new love, it sure would be hard for me to continue to like him and stay with him, not because Pa”T” would be hateful to him, but because I cared so much what he would think and say. He shook Joey’s hand, looked him eye to eye, and said, “Well, he sure looks like a fine, upstanding, young man.” At that moment, I knew I had a keeper, and years later, I realized these two men are so much alike. 😉

He was a real man’s man, a “John Wayne” kind of man… Well, I won’t be redundant for those of you who might have already read my post about him last year…If you’d like, you can read more about him in Bigger than Life. I hope you enjoy…

Today is his birthday, and if I were able, I would say, “Happy Bday in heaven, Pa”T”! I know you’re having a blast, and you’re probably telling somebody a good ol’ tale today. I love you, and I miss you so much. Life just isn’t the same without you!! Thank you for all the love you gave, character you taught and wisdom you passed along. You didn’t miss much, and for that, I am so grateful. I am, also, so thankful that I’ll get to see you again one day…and I sure hope it’s sooner than later! 😉 “

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I always felt safe and secure in his arms. (1990 – me and my little cousin)

 

Bigger Than Life

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I experienced one of the greatest losses of my life 12 years ago today. You see, my grandfather was bigger than life. When he walked in a room, he owned that room. He had the personality of a John Wayne, never meeting a stranger and never afraid to “get up on that horse,” no matter how many fears he had inside. In fact, as a child, I was convinced he couldn’t possibly have any fears!

He was born in a small, no name kind of town, a son born into poverty and of low education. When he was 15, he was told by a banker he was worthless and didn’t deserve the money he was seeking. He told the man that one day he would prove him wrong, and he did just that. He began his own HVAC company, became a county commissioner, retired from his business when I was just a little girl, and went back to buy out that banker, only to find the man had already lost his place. He believed in hard work and the common decency among men. He could spin the biggest tale, keeping you entertained for hours; yet, when it came to business, he believed in integrity, fairness and an honest wage for honest work.

He stood at six feet four inches tall, wore Stetson hats and alligator boots (or the nicest, toughest boots found in the store that day), and he struck up conversation with every person he encountered on the park bench while waiting for his wife to finish shopping. He could wrestle and kill a six-foot rattler, and he’d do the same to a six-foot man if he threatened a child (which actually happened once!). He loved his wife, his two girls, and his four grands (and their spouses), even if his gruffness hid that love most of the time. He believed in taking care of what you have and working hard for what you want. One of his famous lines was, “Take care of your equipment, and your equipment will take care of you!”

He was like a Daddy to me. My mom was single for most of my childhood, and he just kind of filled in that gap. He made sure I was clothed, fed and had just about all I wanted or needed in life. He’d pick me up after school in his old Ford Ranchero, and we’d stop by the Stuckeys gas station to get some candy…that was back when you could get a piece of candy for a dime and a coke for fifty cents; so, I always loaded up with the $3-5 he gave me!
He taught me how to fish and how to clean them; although, he always handled the knives. He bought me my first car, and even though, he had the money to pay cash for it, he set me up with monthly payments; so, I could learn how to pay bills and manage a checkbook properly. He always had a bear hug waiting and would never let me leave without a little cash in my pocket. He loved me something fierce, and I loved him right back the same.

When he left this world, he took some of its color with him, and my life has never been the same. He sure wasn’t perfect, but he brought a little perfection into my world. They say, “Time heals all pain,” but I have to disagree. Time doesn’t really heal grief, only Jesus can do that. Time just simply helps you learn how to tolerate the pain and be able to “categorize it” within your own heart. It helps you to see more clearly, and if you choose it to, time allows you to help someone else along the same journey.

I’ll miss him until the day I die, and I’ll keep his memories alive for my children to remember what a great legacy we have.