For My Grandaddy

Grandaddy.

 

My favorite person in the entire world.

 

Since I can remember, we had a special bond. Maybe it’s because I was first, or maybe there was just something between us that I can’t name. But whatever it was, it was THERE. You were my Grandaddy. Solid, upstanding, loving, funny, and going to outlive us all.

 

Why? Because you were the most stubborn person I’ve ever known in my entire life. If there was something you wanted, by george you were gonna make it happen. And if you felt that something was right, well, you stood unshaking in your conviction.

 

That created a family full of stubborn, opinionated, strong-willed people. The P. blood in us does not waver much. We even have a pout that we master early when we don’t get our way. Even the newest of us waited so long that is mama couldn’t be here today. But around 830 last night, my new nephew was born, giving Grandaddy one more grandson.

 

But even with all that stubbornness, you were also one of the most loving men I’ve ever known. You were the patriarch of our family, and you wore that badge with honor, praying over every meal, hugging the grandkids—making sure every one of us knew we were loved, shown through gifts, mementos, trips. We all got rings on our 16th birthday—mine doesn’t quite fit anymore, but it’s here.

 

One of my favorite memories is going to the Kentucky Horse Park for my 13th birthday. A whole weekend just for me. My favorite horse was Romeo, a red and white dapple that I got to ride on the trail with you. And we ate blackberry cobbler in the cafeteria—your favorite.

 

The love of Grandaddy’s life was…KENTUCKY BASKETBALL. Sorry Nana, you were probably a close second. Since long before I came into the picture, he was obsessed. And even while I was born into a Boilermaker family, Kentucky Blue trumped all. He even bought a Tennessee-loving boyfriend of mine a Kentucky hat once, because heaven forbid he wear orange near Grandaddy. But then, I accidentally committed the ultimate crime. I planned my wedding in October. That’s right…I did it. I made him choose—his beloved granddaughter’s wedding…or the Midnight Madness basketball practice he had been going to for decades with my uncle. It’s been a running joke in the family ever since. At least…I hope it’s a joke. I’ve been forgiven for that, right Uncle S? *fingers crossed*

 

Still, a few years later, when that marriage ended, and I felt I had let everyone down—it was my Grandaddy who was there to take me out to lunch and make sure I was taking care of myself. It was a tradition carried over from college, and it meant the world to me, especially then.

 

It was on those dates when I really got to know my Grandaddy. He was such a great storyteller when you got to know him one on one, and he had so many to tell—from growing up in Chicago, to meeting Nana and living in Kentucky. He loved to travel and could remember landmarks from any road trip he’d ever been on. And by landmark…I really mean BBQ joints.

 

It wasn’t really until I met Richard that I realized my whole life I had been looking for a man like my Grandaddy. I joked before, Nana, but he sure loved you. I grew up with a model of true love and friendship every time I saw Ed look at Carol—when I came in the kitchen early in the morning, and saw them sharing the newspaper, he with his cheerios and bananas, Nana with her tea; or in the afternoons when he’d rub her back so sweetly before her nap. He was a helpful, guiding, affectionate husband—and he was always teasing her about something with that ornery twinkle in his eye. And Nana would usually give it right back to him. That’s what I wanted—their partnership. I don’t remember a difficult moment, or a happy one, where they were not together. And so I thank you both, for being such great role models for us all.

 

Richard and I were home in February for a late Christmas, and we spent and afternoon visiting Grandaddy on our way north. Nana asked if he knew who I was and, with that same ornery twinkle in his eye, he winked and insisted my name was Elaine…at the same time he hugged me. I am absolutely certain he knew exactly who I was, and was just ragging Nana on—because he asked us a lot of questions about Dallas and work and, of course, BBQ.

 

My last conversation with my Grandaddy, my favorite person in the world, was about a hole in the wall joint called Blalocks, between Dallas and Texarcana. We pulled it up on our phones and it was just as he remembered. He was, of course, stubbornly determined that he was going to get better and we were going to go get BBQ there next summer. I said, “Absolutely. You come see us in Texas and we will go to Blalocks for BBQ when you feel better!”

 

Grandaddy, I will always love you. You will always be my most favorite person. And I know you will be there when Richard and I stop in Mt. Pleasant, TX on our way home, for that feel good BBQ. Think they’ll have any cobbler?

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