Monday, May 16, 2005

We'll Miss You, Pa

On Monday, May 9th, our family suffered its second real tragedy. The first was the death of my father in 1998. My kids loved their grandaddy, and I loved my father, more than I thought I could love any man besides my husband. Then Monday, my FIL died. It was sudden and unexpected and it threw us all for a loop. Even though he was 82, he didn't look it or act it. He was one of those men who'd always worked hard, played hard, and loved hard. I met him in 1971 at Thanksgiving. At only 5'6" tall, he'd been tagged with the nickname Little Man and it had stuck. That's what I called him for more than 32 years. But though he was small in stature, he made up for it by being large at heart.

The one thing I'll remember him for most was his ability to make memories. I've finally learned that memories are made either by things often repeated, or by things done on a grand scale. Pa's memories were made from little things, done over and over until they became a part of your life. When my two oldest were small, he took them down to Phil's Corner every time they visited and bought them Chick O'Stix and peanut butter logs. They've never forgotten those trips. He was a wonderful grandfather and was loved by every single granchild.

But the things I'll miss the most are the daily visits to our house where he'd climb out of the truck saying "Another day, another dollar, and the work ain't hard." Or the times he'd call me on the phone and, no matter what hour of the day or night it was, he'd say, "Didn't wake you up, did I?" He was always inordinately pleased if I said he had. And whenever someone left after a visit, he'd invariably tell them, "Be careful on the roads. Don't drive too fast. Keep it under thirty." To the younger family members, he'd add, "Don't talk to strangers."
I miss seeing him working in his garden, miss hearing his voice, miss watching him with my grandchildren, miss the pride in his voice when we told him news of our children. He never failed to ask if we'd heard from them recently. To him, out of sight didn't mean out of mind.

GodSpeed Little Man. Say hello to my dad for me, and save me a seat near you two at that heavenly table.