It has been six months since you left me; half a year, but it feels like one hundred and eighty days multiplied by six lifetimes.
And I swore I would not post a sentimental blog post because no words could begin to describe you. How could anything I say make strangers understand how incredible you were?
But, you were always proud of my writing so here goes:
I swore I would never be a Tennessee Volunteers fan like you, yet here I am with an Etsy order for an orange hat like yours, and a car named “Rocky” as in Rocky Top. If they were your team, they will be mine, too.
I swore I would not cry today, but I did anyway.
I swore I would visit your grave and see your new headstone, but I have not done that either for I know concrete and dirt is not the essence of what you were.
I swore by now I would be able to walk in your room without breaking down, but I cannot do that either.
I swore by now I would not miss you so much and constantly wish I could ask you for advice.
I make a lot of promises I don’t keep; you did too. You swore you’d be at the next Piedmont Credit Union meeting because you were on the board and it would be “unacceptable” to miss.
Instead, before the meeting came around, the credit union workers were at your house bringing your now-widowed wife of 63 years cakes and rolls and chicken and consoling your grieving grandchildren.
You promised yourself that come April, you would be back at Tuscarora Country Club dominating at golf (I have never seen a man look as cute as you did in your Titleist hat). But instead, your golf cart was sold that month because that old thing driving to the ponds and tap room meant nothing to me without you not baiting my hook or eating cheese fries with me.
But, I forgive you for breaking your promises. I forgive you because I know Jesus fulfilled His.
And I know you’re out of pain now. I know you don’t have to keep whispering “it cuts like a knife” every time you roll over in your hospital bed.
I know you don’t have to endure anymore long, hard, lonely nights where you had to lay there and accept the fact that you were dying.
I know you are reunited with your parents and sister and all of Nana’s siblings that went too soon.
I know you are in the presence of the Lord and all these earthly pleasures are dim in comparison to that.
I know you can walk again and not be confined to a yellow wallpapered room with one window and the aroma of chemotherapy and the incessant noise of dripping of oxygen.
I know that you don’t have to tell me goodbye anymore and constantly wonder if that was the last time you would get to see your granddaughter.
I know you are no longer struggling to breathe and I know your body is no longer constrained to a thin, white mattress.
And I know 86-years-old seems like a pretty long life, but man, only getting to be alive for 17 years of your 86 is difficult.
I wish I could have known you in your previous lifetimes, back when you were a lifeguard, back at 15-years-old when you fell in love with Nana, back when you were president of Beneficial Finance, back when you bought your very first Cadillac. I wish I could have known you as a college boy at Emory and Henry and I wish I could have known you when you were in the army. I wish I could have seen you in the role of a new father and a new resident of Danville. I wish I could have known you the day you held my mom for the first time, her body wrapped in pink cloth.
There are so many days I wish I could have lived along with you.
But, instead, I just knew you as my grandfather, my “Daddoo.”
That was enough.
I do not know why I was privileged to spend all my summer days as a child with you. I do not know why I was able to be a third wheel on your fairytale-like dates with your “El.” I do not know why you loved bragging about me to your friends when you were always so much cooler than me (you know that, right?). I do not know what strength you had to somehow comfort me in the midst of all your suffering, but you did. I do not know why I was blessed enough to have such a gentleman in my life who held doors for me, and pulled out my chair, and stood up for me when I walked in a room. I do not know why I got to spend so many years laughing at your wisecracks and discussing the benefits of proper hydration with you.
Whatever the reason, I am grateful.
Grateful to have known such a man who was so well-respected by his family and in the community.
And yet you were so humble, always.
And you would probably re-die (but secretly grin) if you saw that I had publicly posted something about you. I remember the embarrassment and pride you felt when Mom posted you on Facebook and 200 people wished you “Happy Birthday.”
But, the humble have to be exalted at some point, right?
All of my love,
Anna Catherine/ “Tooth”
P.S. I’ve started signing all of my love instead of just some of it…your cards (and life) taught me that.
I miss the well-loved voice of you, your tender smile for me. The charm of you, the joy your sympathy brings. I miss your hand beside my own, its’ light touch. The gleam in your eyes, so sure to understand. I miss you in the evening dear, I sleep and still I miss you in my dreams. The world is full of folks, it’s true, but there was only one of you. -Anonymous