Carolyn A. (milkmaid) -
, - 2/19/2008 9:58 PM ET
What a wonderful story....made me tear up with memories of my own papa...
|Dear Papa –
I sat at my computer today, checking messages and such and I saw the date on the calendar, December 1. That is the day that you passed away. It has been 19 years, and I still miss you. I tried to carry on with my day, and thoughts of you overtook me. This is why I felt compelled to sit down and right you a letter. I plan to share this letter with my friends, family and anyone who cares to read it. I want them all to know how much I love you, and how blessed I am that you are my grandpa. I know that you will see it too because I truly believe that you are with me.
I have wonderful memories of you. I remember how as a little girl, every Saturday night, you, FiFi the poodle, and I would watch Saturday night wrestling. I remember how you loved the Von Erichs. There was one time that you took Kellie and I to the Dallas Sportatorium when Andre the Giant and Ivan Putski(sp) fought! That night is still so vivid in my memory. It was exciting to realize as a child that these characters that we saw on TV every weekend were real people. I don’t watch wrestling now, but when I see anything pertaining to wrestling, I think of you, and it makes me happy.
I remember playing in your backyard. I would chase horned toads and frogs and catch them. I loved them! You would always warn me that I could get warts from holding them. Your warnings still never deterred in my hunt for them though. I remember when the Dalmatian had puppies, and I played with them in the backyard. I have one memory in particular that ALWAYS comes to me. There was an old water mattress in your yard. One day, you filled that old water mattress up with water. You sat in an old folding chair and bounced me. I could not stand up because of the water mattress sloshing around under my feet. That was so funny to me. I can still see what I saw then. I remember falling on the water mattress. I remember lying on my back looking up as the sun came through the branches of the trees, and I could not quit giggling. I was happy. There are days now, when I look up through the branches of the trees, and as the sun peaks through, I think of you and that moment, and it makes me happy.
I remember a time when a winter storm had come through our area. You took me outside and we “ice skated” on the sidewalk. I remember that I had black patent leather shoes on. You and I skated around on that icy sidewalk for what seemed like a long time. After having my daughter, and she was big enough to walk, a winter storm had come through and I thought of you. I took her out onto the sidewalk and we tried to skate. So now, when it is icy outside I think of you that day, and it makes me happy.
I remember the things that you used to say to us when were children. I remember you would tell us that you were going to trade us for a donkey. There was one time when we were on our way to East Texas. I remember passing by a pasture and seeing horses. As a child I did not realize the difference between donkeys and horses. They all looked the same to me. When I saw that field of “donkeys,” I got scared. I saw that as your chance to trade me off for the donkey like you had talked about. I think I felt that way because there was so many horses, that I thought surely there would be one that would be worth trading me for. On that same trip, you and I stopped by a natural spring. We got a bunch of empty glass coke bottles and filled them all up. The water was so cold! You and your brother took me to see this huge brown bear that drank cokes. Y’all bought me several cokes to give to that bear. It was so funny to me how that bear turned those cokes up and guzzled them down. I think of going to East Texas with you, and it makes me happy.
I remember how I could not wait to get to come stay with you on the weekends. I would go to the tile plant where you worked to be with you. There is no way in hell that anyone could get away with that now! I remember watching you work. You would climb down in those mills and come out blanketed in dust. You would push those huge stacks of tiles on the rails to go through the burning process. I still remember the heat from those tracks. When you would stop to take a break, you would buy us each a Coke and a package of salted peanuts. It was the old type Coke vending machine that held bottles. We would take our peanuts and pour them into our Cokes. That was so good to me as a child. On occasion, as an adult, I still get a Coke and put peanuts in it. When I see tile or glass bottled Cokes, I think of you, and it makes me happy.
I remember you would pick us up from school when Mom could not. I remember the trips between our house and yours. You used to drive that big, old blue car. We would drive down Bee Street between our houses. Kellie and I used to ride in the backseat. There was a HUGE dip in the road on that street. Kellie and I used to see that dip sign ahead, and we would start yelling for you to go fast over that dip. You always entertained our plea for some flight time in that big, blue car. You would hit the gas, we raced towards the dip, and it would send us flying out of our seats! We loved it! I chuckle now as I sit here and think of that. Good times. I have driven down that street many times since you have passed on. Now, as I approach that dip in the road, I hit the gas and go fast. I smile when my butt rises off that seat. I think of you, and it makes me happy.
I remember when Jammie was born. I remember you taking care of her some times. In my mind, I can still see you sitting in that black chair holding her. To me, as a child it seemed like you could hold her forever. I think I may have been a little jealous because in my mind, you were MY Papa. I understand now, as an adult, that the way that you looked at her simply meant that you loved her. You probably looked at us all that way. You were proud of her, just like you were proud of us. My minds picture that I have of you holding her, helps me know that you probably held and looked at Kellie and I that same way, and it makes me happy.
I remember how as a teenager, you helped me buy my first truck. When I called you to see if you could loan me some of the money, your question to me was, “What do you think I am, the First State Bank or something?” Then you told me that you would lend me the money but you knew that like everyone else that I would not get you paid back. I made it a point to make sure that you got money every single month, and you always tried to give it back to me. I never took that money back. I wanted to make sure that I got you paid back because I wanted to be the one who did. I wanted to prove to you that I appreciated you helping me. I did get you paid back. It made me proud, and I was happy.
I remember how after you helped me get my truck, you used to always go check it over when I would come to see you. I think your way of checking to see if it was a good truck was to kick the tires. You always kicked the tires, grabbed the bed of the truck and shook it. The way you checked out my truck leads me to another memory of you. I used to work at the automotive store. The manager was doing this big promotion, and he was going to raffle off his old Corvette. It was a beautiful car. I don’t know what year it was but it was an awesome car. You had stopped by that store one day, and I walked with you out front. You saw that car and proceeded to go CHECK IT out. On the side of the car was a sign that said PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE CAR. I found it humorous how you walked right up to that car and started kicking the tires. The top was down on it so you grabbed it and started shaking it. You made me laugh that day, and I was happy.
I remember when you started getting sick. I remember Mom going to get you, taking you to the hospital, to the doctors, and simply taking care of you. I know that you loved Mom, and loved her for helping you. You trusted her, and you knew that she was dependable. You came to stay with us, and it was tough on the family but that is what family does. I remember your being with us on your last Thanksgiving. You were very ill. It was hard for you to eat, and hard for you to breathe. It was not too long after that you went back to the hospital for the last time. I remember visiting with you. I went to see you daily. There was one day that I still look back at and laugh at. It was not a gracious moment, it was just one of life’s moments. You were telling me about how one of the nurses had to give you an enema. It was funny because you called it an ENEMY. I started laughing, and you laughed with me. I told you that if someone had been shoving stuff up my butt that it would be an ENEMY to me too! We laughed together, and I was happy.
I remember when Mom found out that your death was imminent she called a family meeting. There is a certain member of our family who sat back and did nothing while you were sick. I need not say this persons name because you know who he is. When Mom began to explain the situation he did nothing but criticize her. We, my family, Mom, Dad, Kellie, Jammie and I pulled tighter as a unit. We all found out that night that there is a great power in standing up for the people you love. I have you to thank for that, because without that moment we would not know that power. You brought us solidarity, and that makes me happy.
I remember the day before you passed away. It was the last day of November. I had been into see you but left so that others could visit with you. I felt that in my gut that it was your time, and I knew that I had to go back and see you one more time. I just wanted to tell you that I love you. It was also the day before Kellie’s birthday. I remember telling my mom that we should celebrate her birthday early. So we went out for dinner for Kel’s birthday. The phone rang early that morning. I knew when the phone rang that you were gone. I was glad that I went back in that room to see you. I was fortunate that those were the last words that we traded were I love you, and that makes me happy.
I remember the morning after you passed away I did not want to get out of my bed. I laid there and wondered why in the hell I even had to open my eyes again. I was broken. Then, this weird feeling, of happiness washed over me. It was spiritual. I wanted to dance and sing. I was happy for you. I was happy that you no longer had to struggle to breathe. There was no more suffering for you, and that made me happy.
I remember at your funeral, I refused to go see you in that coffin. I wanted to keep my images of you, as I knew you. I did not want the memories of you in the coffin overshadowing the other living memories that I had of you. I remember seeing your head peaking over the top of the coffin and realizing that you had no gray hair. You had that pretty black hair. At 37, I am mostly gray, and the thought of having no gray hair at your age makes me happy.
I went to visit your grave about a year and a half after your death. It was your birthday, and I wanted to go visit your grave. The weather was horrible that day. It was raining hard, the lightning was decorating the sky and the thunder was roaring. I felt like that was your birthday, and the weather was not going to stop me. I went to the cemetery in the pouring rain. I brought flowers with me. I remember standing there in the rain. I had no umbrella or anything to protect me from that storm. I stood out there and talked to you in the rain. I remember by the time I left, there was not a lot left of the flowers that I had brought you because they had been beat up by the rain. That was a tough day but I am glad that I went, and that makes me happy.
There are things that are hard for me. I remember a day, when I was a teenager; I was driving through your neighborhood. I saw you sitting in your front yard. At the time, I did not want to get “stuck” at your house. I guess that I had things to do. I wish now that I had taken that opportunity to sit with you. That would have been just a little bit more time that I could have spent with you. That taught me to always take every chance that you have to spend time with your family or those that you love, and that makes me happy.
I felt like you were with me during some of the most important times in my life. I tied your scarf around my bouquet when I got married. The moment after giving birth to my daughter, my first thought was of you. I remember asking myself, “Does he see her?” When I married my second husband, I wondered if you were still proud of me. I did not want you to see my getting divorced and remarried as some sort of failure. When my son was born, I again thought of you. I wished that you could be with me so that you could see my babies. I find peace in knowing that you have been with me, and I feel that you would be proud of me, and that makes me happy.
You have also been with me in everyday life. There was a time several years ago that it was getting cold out, and I did not have a coat to wear. When you passed away I had asked Mom if I could have your jacket and she gave it to me. I had put your jacket away and would check it from time to time. I would touch and smell that jacket because it was all that I had left that was tangible of you. When I thought of the jacket, I heard you tell me to go get your jacket and use it. I told myself that I would only wear that jacket if your scent were no longer there. I held the jacket as I had done many times before and your scent was gone. I just had a feeling that is what you would want me to do. You kept me warm, and that makes me happy.
I catch myself saying things to children that you used to say to me. I tell my children, “You be good cuz I know you ain’t gonna be perty!” I will probably say that to my grandchildren. I tell them how you showed me how good peanuts and Coke can be. I tell them how much better the chicken noodle soup is with corn in it. I have shared with them your yummy syrup and peanut butter mix that you eat with toast. I have those things to share with them, and that makes me happy.
I think of you all the time. I miss you every day. I am lucky that you were my grandpa. It was tough for me today, looking at the calendar and realizing that 19 years have passed. I have tried to fight back my sadness but I can’t. It hurts me today. I have learned so much through you. I do not fear death anymore. I really believe it is because I think there is something beyond this world, and you will be there to meet me when I am gone from here too. Until it is my time, I will continue to hold you close. The thought of being reunited with you makes me happy.
Thanks for being my Papa.
Thanks for loving me.
Most of all, thanks for making me happy.
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