If I’ve learned nothing else in life, through the eyes of a child to the ears of an adult, I know that in that insignificant way we have made a difference. I was reminded the other day of when my dad had passed away. He was only 65, but the later years were his best years, or they were with us. He became weaker in body, as many of us do and will. He still would drink his beer and have his cigarettes, but hardly to the extent of yesteryear. He became more mellow and loving, with kinder words to say, with a gentler hand to his grandchildren than he had ever had with us. During the time of my dads passing there were so many people in and out of the house, bringing food, checking on mother and the rest of us. Several of momma’s sisters were there to make sure she was doing ok. It was an amazing comradery of a small town, the people, some almost strangers to me, but not to my mom and dad. These people came into mother’s home, cooked meals, brought food, cleaned floors, bathrooms, washed clothes, bought house supplies and talked to people as mother rested. Flooding back the memory of knowing my dad hardly ever, or should I say probably never was a visitor to any of our houses. We belonged at his house and that’s where we gathered. Anyway, a few days before his passing, I was visiting with him one morning and I just mentioned I was going to have to get the faucet in the front bathroom worked on because it had a leak. Nothing else was mentioned. The question arises, do you think certain people know when their time is ending? I say this because, although my dad never visited our homes, he made a special trip that week. He visited every child he had living near him. It was a Sunday morning, early and someone rang our door bell. It was my dad. He came in, sort of awkward because we weren’t used to him being at our house. He sat in our oversized chair and I can distinctly hear him say “I need a chair like this at home, I like this”. With a short conversation about several things, including that he was going to be grandpa again. He was excited about that, happy. I said dad, “but we’ve lost so many” and he sad “Oh, don’t worry this time son, your going to get your baby”. Enough conversation, dad says, “where’s that faucet you have that is running”? I show him in the bathroom, the bathtub was a turquoise blue. Dad said, “let me get some things out of my truck”, he came in with his tool box. I was always intrigued by his tool box, because everything was always neat and, in its place, not mine. If I needed something I usually had to go borrow, because it was always misplaced. Thats another thing my dad used to say, “don’t loan anything to Charles, he won’t bring it back”. Dad had been out at the farm, his favorite place in the world to be, if you needed him, that’s where you would find him. Always painting something, usually brown. Ok, sorry, I get sidetracked. Like I said, I get to running over my memories. Dad brought his tool box in the bathroom, asked me if I would shut off the water, which I did. He began to take the faucet apart, with hands that were still large, much larger than my own, but still able to gently remove small things. He had a bend in his right middle finger, much like the one I have in my right ring finger, from years of use and arthritis starting to settle in. Besides the fixing of the faucet and the short thank you to dad, he was gone in a flash to his next stopping spot. Vivid as yesterday, I see his footprint in my bathtub and the sand left there, the outline of what was to be part of the last of his life. By the end of the weekend, he had been to all of our houses, just to say hello or to see if we needed anything. Lives had changed, dad had changed. There were days my wife and I would be out for a drive, stop at the store and get them each a candy bar. Dad like three musketeers and mother loved Almond Joys. Just like children, it was amazing to see how quickly my dad could scarf that candy bar down and then say “momma, you going to eat all of your candy”? Mom of course would bring him half of hers and he would just laugh, much like the old cowboy calendars we would get from the bank each year. There was always a drawing, usually western and if you didn’t laugh, dad would always say “You don’t get it do you? You don’t get it”. When he passed we found several of those old calendars. I wished I had one framed today, it would have made an awesome memory. The weekend is gone, and it is Monday afternoon. I drive by their little house and dad is on the porch, I waved, and he waved back, not knowing that would be my last glimpse of his fatherhood, for on Tuesday, October 17, 1989 my mother called me from the neighbor’s house, the neighbor on the line said, “Charles, your mother needs to talk to you”. In her angelic, soft-toned, tender, unmistakable voice, it was my mother. She said, “Charles Dean, I can’t wake your daddy up, I can’t wake him up, would you go get Randy”? “He can always wake him up.” Randy had seen his share of dad’s past years of passing out under the influence and this was the closest to reality my mother could come at this point. I hurriedly went by and picked up another brother, and when we got there, she was holding him in her arms, washing his face gently with a wash rag. But he was gone, she knew it, but couldn’t let go, let go of the only person who truly knew her, knew her inadequacies, trials, tribulations, shortcomings and problems, the man in the best way he knew how, helped her raise a family, The man that would come home drunk in the middle of the night and fall in the yard. Mom would get a pillow and blanket, cover him up and wait on the porch until he awoke, this man was her one true love. Momma was devastated for days to come. The service on Thursday was long, the church was standing room only, I remember thinking, “I will be glad when this part is over”. It finally was over and after leaving the church and the cemetery, we got mom home, put her to bed where she stayed for many days. Each of us taking times to spend nights on end with her, until she finally said, “I’m ok now”, you kids can go home. And, To just throw this in, Timberly and I did have our baby boy he mentioned, three days after my dads birthday” the next year. My mother lived another 24 years to the very day, October 17, 2013 in that same little house, lacking two weeks until her 87th birthday, where again, my brother Randy found her sound asleep. She had gone in the most glorious, passionate way the lord can call anyone home, in her sleep, without pain, to be reunited with all that she missed, all that she loved and why not? For she had endured the worst of times. I would like to think, in his glory he knew her little mind suffered unrelentingly and that she was a special angel, deserving to go quietly into the night. So as I write, I know without a doubt she is reserving our place with her. Thank you, mom and dad, for the memories. It is at this time of life we tend to remember the good you did. Memories don’t fade, they just get tucked away, the good ones and especially the bad ones. But for me, reliving those memories is therapeutic, they inundate me with facts of love and the need to be kind, the need to change and to always have a gentler hand.
Copyright @coffeewithcharles.blog (Charles D. Grant)