Boots

April 18, 2011 at 2:56 am 3 comments

I hesitate to write this post, because it could be considered cliche’, since I wrote one for Mamaw and all. But this is how I deal. I use words. I don’t always use them well, but words are how I process my feelings. I wish I could just go work out or sew something or do something productive like that, but this is what I do.

My Papaw’s name is Boots. That’s not his given name, obviously, but that’s what he’s called by everyone. I always thought it was the coolest thing to have a Papaw named Boots. Nobody else did, and I love being different.

He’s a brilliant man. He ran a business for years and years and became very successful and respected. Everyone that dealt with him thought the world of him. He’s honest and kind and funny. I admire him and revere him. In many ways, he’s a hero to me. I love him immensely and have spent the last few days remembering some of the wonderful things we did together.

I’m nostalgic right now because he’s getting ready to be with Jesus. He’s very sick, and will soon be healed in the presence of God. I can’t fathom how amazing that will be. I know he’s ready, but we will miss him so much. Those of us who are blessed to call him Papaw have so many wonderful memories of being with him.

One of my favorite memories is going to see Randy Travis in concert with him when I was about 13 or 14. We had decent seats, but I wanted to go up close to the stage in the crowd. Papaw wouldn’t let me because he was afraid he’d lose me. That means so much now. I wore a blue button down shirt and jeans, and we sang every song and laughed and had the best time. It was one of the best dates I’ve ever been on.

When I was much older, and Michael and I were dating, Papaw took me fishing one day. We had planned for a week to go, and the night before, Michael broke up with me. I was devastated, and fishing was just what I needed. We caught about sixty bream and ate sandwiches that Mamaw had packed in the cooler. We talked about a lot of things, but what I remember most is him saying that Mamaw was the finest woman he knew. That she was so good at everything she did. I’d never heard him really express how he felt about her, even though I knew he loved her. That was a great day.

When Michael proposed to me, we went by their house and showed Mamaw the ring, but Papaw was already in bed asleep. The next morning at church, I stopped by his Sunday School class and motioned for him to come out into the hallway. He was alarmed and thought something was the matter. I showed him the ring and told him I was getting married. He immediately shook Michael’s hand, patted him on the back and said, “Welcome.” I treasure that memory, too.

I picture him cleaning fish in the sink downstairs in the shop. I would sit on the top step and watch him clean those fish and ask a million questions about the anatomy of a catfish. I can also picture him sitting beside the fish fryer down in the shop and cooking those catfish.

I picture him in his camouflage, coming in from a successful hunt. I remember seeing deer hanging in the backyard and being so grossed out, but proud that my Papaw could shoot anything he aimed at.

I remember him taking Michael and me to Tuscola, his hometown, and teaching me to shoot a pistol. We fished a bit, but then spent an hour or so shooting. We stopped at Lena to get a hamburger and a cho-cho (chocolate covered ice cream on a stick) on the way home. I loved that day, too.

He was a master at turning a stressful situation into a funny one. When Mamaw would get on a tear about something, he’d turn to whoever would listen and say, “Hey Anne (or whoever), did you hear the one about….” and everyone would laugh. It just made Mamaw madder, but the tension was gone.

I remember being in the fifth or sixth grade and having a dance recital. Papaw was not a fan of dancing. I distinctly remember looking out in the audience and seeing him sitting there, watching my recital. That means he had to sit through a lot of other girls’ dances as well. Bless him. I think he did it because we always went to Dairy Queen afterwards.

When I attended my Senior Prom, he and Mamaw came over while we took pictures. He asked me if I was going to wear a turtleneck under my dress. It was not an immodest dress at all, but he wanted me to be covered up!

I rode to many, many ballgames with him and Mamaw. I have so many pictures in my head of the three of us cruising in the Buick and singing songs. We sang hymn after hymn. We’d drive through the Delta and Papaw would tell me about all the crops and what it was like to farm. I wish I had a tape of every word he said.

I remember sitting in Piccadilly Cafeteria with him one Sunday after church. It was just my family and Papaw and he told us stories about the war. He told so many stories we’d never heard, and it was fascinating to discover that part of his life.

In high school, when my cousins and I wanted to go “riding around”, we were told by our loving parents that we could go if we took Papaw with us. I think that would have done Papaw in if we’d have made him go, but we stayed home and he was off the hook.

I can hear him calling my cousin Lucy “Lucytwo”. He always said it fast like that. She loved to fish with him, and is by far, the best hunter of all of the grandkids. He had beautiful hunting dogs, and I can picture him out there with them. My cousin Jenni was always the best at helping with that. She loved those dogs. He also came to her ballgames in high school and I’d love watching him watch her and Sarah play. He would take my cousin Ro to get the oil changed in his truck. He also came to most of Ro and Lucy’s basketball games in high school. My cousin Sarah definitely inherited his business sense and ability to manage money and make good decisions. She reminds me of him in personality. Dan, another cousin, lived with Mamaw and Papaw for a long time. He was there for them when their health started to fail, and he and Papaw have a beautiful bond that shows no sign of a generational gap. My brother, John Mark, is an artist because of Papaw. They’d sit in church and Papaw would draw forest animals and JM would copy them. Papaw encouraged his art talent and sent him to lessons. As for me, I laughed at his jokes, listened to his stories, and hopefully showed him how much I love him.

I don’t play basketball, draw, hunt or fish, but I know he loves me. He loves us all. I’ve heard him say for years how proud he is of his family. We are so proud of him. We are who we are largely because of who he is and what he has taught us. I will always be honored to be his granddaughter.

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Whole Lotta Livin’ Goin’ On Forever and Ever, Amen

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. nicki glenn  |  April 18, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Awww…I love him now and I don’t even know him. Sweet words about a man who obviously, is so deserving. HUGS sweet friend!

    Reply
  • 2. Jennifer  |  April 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I love the memories I have of your Papaw Boots too. What a wonderful, funny man. I’m praying for you dear friend.

    Reply
  • 3. Karen McGee  |  April 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    How fortunate you are to have had a grandfatther in your life. I never did but reading your words tells me what it could have been like. I find it especially touching how you recall memories of your cousins, your brother and your grandfather as well as your own memories.

    Reply

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