This has been a difficult week for my family. On Tuesday, we lost the patriarch of the Glover clan, my Granddaddy. He was nearly 95 years old and has lived a long and vivid life. Losing him was still a rather hard blow to us, though. His health had deteriorated over the last few months. He was undergoing treatment at a rehabilitation facility, as a matter of fact, when he passed away. In a horrible part of my head, I was preparing myself for this and had been for years. I told my friend that I didn’t trust Granddaddy getting better. He was getting better because he’d made peace with leaving. I was hoping he’d do the usual thing and show me how wrong I was, because he was certainly stubborn enough to do that. He didn’t, though.
Granddaddy isn’t someone I talk about very often, never really has been. In the past few days, I’ve been trying to pull on memories of him, anecdotes I could share with my kids, and I realized that I’m woefully short on them. Not because I wasn’t around him, though, honestly, I wasn’t around him overmuch. Moving to Savannah didn’t help that, either. I realized, though, through some soul searching and racking my heart for what I DID feel for the man, that the reason I couldn’t come up with but a few stories to tell was because… he was just there. He was my granddaddy. He was always tall and reserved, but never withdrawn. His love for his family was never in question, you never doubted for a second that he loved you and was pretty sure you were responsible for hanging some of those stars in the heavens (not the moon, though. That was all Grandmama.). The memories I have of him are of him telling stories about the people he grew up with, fought with in the war, or the trouble his kids got into growing up. My Dad was particularly good at that last one, so those stories always made me laugh and his war stories always proved that Dad got that gene honestly!
He was proud of his Irish and Native American heritage. It was a pride he instilled in his kids, his oldest, particularly. It has always been a source of pride for us and we owe that to him. He never focused on any negative issues surrounding his heritage and, instead, made every one of them into some amusing anecdote that made you smile with pride, too. Stubbornness? Temper? Iron-lined stomach? Mile-high alcohol tolerance? Charisma? The man had all of that in spades! No one, except his wife, ever complained about how long Granddaddy could talk, and that was yet another gift his bloodline carried on from generation to generation.
I could talk about his time in World War II. I could talk about his many years of working with the printers in Smyrna. I could talk about a thousand things that made him the man he was, but that’s not the man I grew up loving. The man I grew up loving was a giant of a man, well over six feet tall and broad shouldered enough to make you think he was taking over for Atlas some day. He had a dark complexion and jet black hair, with these brown eyes that I never saw hold anything but love in them. His favorite phrase was “and the like,” and he could charm his way into a Hooters like no one I’ve ever met. I’ll tell you a few stories about him, though they will never do the wonderful man I love justice. Be prepared to laugh and shake your head at them, though. I get that part honestly, too.
He lost most of his vision before they moved from Blue Ridge to Jasper, but when no one could get his Cadillac out of the garage, damned if he didn’t grab the keys and do it himself! What’s more, he did it using only his peripheral vision and didn’t so much as scratch the paint!
When we were stationed in New Orleans, we’d drive up for Christmas and stay with my grandparents. My grandmother had bought all four of her grandchildren these Snoopy sleeping bags that snapped up the side. She’d lay all four of us grandkids out in her formal living room, where the tree was set up until they’d enclosed the carport many years later. We were so excited to be there, sleeping on the floor in those sleeping bags at Christmas time, that sleep was a JOKE! We’d laugh and talk and the adults would get so irritated with us. After our parents’ coming in did no good, Granddaddy came in and scared the sleep out of us. You see, according to my Granddaddy, there was a witch who lived in the woods behind their house. At night, she would walk the neighborhood and find the kids who were still awake. She would haul them off with her, to her cabin in the woods, where she would boil them in her big pot and TURN THEM TO SOAP! Now, to a quartet of kids, this was the worst possible thing, next to being turned into broccoli or turnips. He’d go back to bed and we’d try harder to stay quiet. Just when we’d nearly given up on that, the breeze would blow outside. They had a gas light on the porch, which flickered. They had holly bushes lining the front of the porch. There was a street light across the street, but at an angle, so every shadow was elongated. They even had a porch swing that would creak when it moved. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. The breeze moved the holly branches, the gas light flickered adding some yellow glare to the shadows as the swing creaked and the branches scratched the porch railing… we were SURE SOAPY SALLY WAS COMING TO GET US! Needless to say, we were quiet, because we didn’t want her to know we were still awake. The next thing we knew, it was morning! HE WON!
Yeah, that was my Granddaddy.
Now, he’s sleeping in heaven, leaving these memories behind to keep us warm as a winter storm threatens to roll us over. I’m glad he isn’t hurting, anymore. I’m glad he’s resting, finally. I’m glad he’s with his brother and mom and son. I know he’s watching over us, shaking his head at us as much as we’re shaking our heads at him. So, this is my goodbye to my Granddaddy. I won’t be able to attend his funeral, due to some rotten timing. I will, however, wear his love in my heart for the rest of my life. I only pray I can leave my kids and their kids with this same feeling when it’s my turn to go.
To quote a Randy Travis song from WAY back… “It’s a love without end, Amen.”
Until we meet again, Granddaddy…
I love you.