I’d like to start off with a thought: Isn’t it amazing how you can know someone your entire life and, even after their passing, you continue to learn new things about them? Sometimes it almost feels like they’re reaching out, giving you a gentle nudge – as cliche’ as that sounds.
The thing is, I was extremely blessed to not only grow up with all four of my grandparents but to grow up with them closely. My memory bank is stocked full of John Wayne movies, homemade bread, woodsmoke, and early mornings on the porch. I grew up in a slow way with my grandparents, on both sides, and a very large majority of who I am is based on their characters.
The world continues to spin on its axis and grief doesn’t find measure in time, even now that I’m down to three of those grandparents. The loss of my Papa was a slow descent but one of comfort when he reached his final rest after such a tough battle. Where a raw hole was in my heart almost two years ago, with the days passing, it’s now healed into a tender ache. Today, I came across something of his and was reminded of his unique essence:
*Pipe tobacco, faded overalls, George Jones on the shop radio, ice cream sandwiches in the freezer, horseman hands, and that coon-ass sense of humor.
Hard truth of it all is, I was gifted twenty-six years with him and it still wasn’t quite enough. It wasn’t long enough to ask the right questions or learn the hardest things. However, it was long enough to hear his best stories and memorize the sound of his footsteps.
I could write about him for days.
Today, though, I caught a glimpse of him in an old coffee can in the back room. And, man-o-livin’, how I wish I could talk to him now about that stash.
It’s remarkable to me how we find pieces of ourselves tucked into genetic inclinations. I’ve spent hours scouring along the river at home for my own collection, yet had never seen his. Where did he find them? Did he hunt them? Or were these lucky appearances?
I don’t find sadness in these questions or the fact I can’t ask him. Instead, I’m grateful someone upstairs guided me to that Folgers can. Maybe we never truly know someone but, damn, it feels good to try.