He lived to be 93 years old. I think I always realized that living that long was amazing, but when you spend 20 years worth of birthdays, holidays, and everydays with a person, you really don’t think all that much about how old he is. All those years I was concerned with issues such as whether or not he was going to look over at me with his little crooked smile and point to the fridgerator where they kept the ice cream sandwiches.
The code for: Go get you a treat, Babe.
Or how funny it was that everytime we ever gathered to eat a meal, my grandmother would fix his plate full of the phenomenon that is southern cooking, and he would just hang his head as he proceeded to tell her that he “DIDN’T NEED ALL THAT FOOD, MOTHER.” And then he’d eat the whole plate. And be looking for dessert shortly thereafter.
Yes, the man was a lover of all things sweet, and he asked for a diet coke on his death bed. I’m telling you, he was a man of my own heart.
So no, I didn’t think about his age all that much. I just knew he was my daddy’s daddy, and that he had no greater joy than that of experiencing life with his son’s son and daughter.
Pop was consistent, calm, and content—-in his life, his beliefs, and his faith. He had funny little phrases and a wagon full of chracteristic little quirks about him that you could always count on. He was so full of subtle, stable love and humor that when I think about him now my heart could just sprout little wings and fly right up to Heaven.
Whenever anyone in our family saw Pop, he always started the encounter with the same quick and precious greeting. “Hey, Babe,” he would say all cute and sweet. Even when he was in the hospital the weeks before he died and was barely saying much, he busted out the famous heybabe as I walked up to his bedside during an visit one evening. I will never forget that. It just somehow summed up everything I loved about him.
The Popster, as we affectionately called him from time to time, didn’t live the fast pace existence of today—-where every moment has a tendancy to be scheduled, including church and family.
To him, those aspects of life were always put first. To him, those aspects of life were like breathing. Life didn’t mean anything without them.
He ate three home-cooked meals a day, most prepared by his devoted and fiery bride of 61 years (although he had a way in the kitchen and made the best pecan pie as well as mean egg sandwich). He had one phone line and it was plugged into the wall. The most technological he ever got was a battery operated clock I gave him one Christmas. Amazingly, it also told the temperature in the room AND doubled as a flashlight. We had to finally just settle on realizing that we would NEVER be able to know HOW THEY DID THAT. Each time I came over after he recieved the Best Gift Ever, he always made some comment about it, sometimes handing it to me to fix because he had pushed a wrong button or because the time was slightly off.
It was like our thing.
After he died, it was really important to me to make sure that silly old clock stayed with me. I keep it in a safe place now, and when I look at it, I am reminded that while his time here on earth has stopped, his 93 year-old body has been exhanged for a timeless one. But I’ll bet his eyes still have that signature twinkle.
No, he didn’t live in the same crazy world that I do, but he loved the same God. He put first the most important gifts that God gives us, and his faith is one that will forever inspire and calmly remind me of the definition of true devotion.
Happy Birthday, Pop. I love you.