Even though it was so long ago, I remember the faint smell of his cologne as he hugged me so tight, with three firm pats on my back and then two on my butt to send me off. The gruffness of his beard on my cheek as I bent down to kiss his face before I would leave his home, where he would remain in his brown recliner, flipping through what seemed like endless westerns on t.v.
He was always wearing a plain blue t-shirt or a flannel button down long sleeved shirt with the arms rolled up and a chest pocket on his left side, in which to store his reading glasses, which he needed when he was younger, or at least young compared to what he became as the ever reliable time took its toll.
. All though any parent or grandparent will say they love all of their kids or grand-kids equally, I always thought that maybe in some small way I was his favorite. Or at least one of a three way tie.
I was his “beautifuls”. That was his affectionate term for me…my female cousins…my mother…and all of her sisters. So maybe he was one of the rare patriarchs that truly had no favorite, because he was so loving and so true and all encompassing with his outpouring of love that he had enough to spread around and more.
We all called my Grandpa “Andaddy”, because my cousin David could not pronounce Granddaddy when he was a little one. It came out “Andaddy”…and it stuck. .
When you’re a kid the older people in your life seem invincible. He was so tall and strong; yet he was so gentle and fun. He would gather all of his spare change each week and when my cousin Amber and I would come over every weekend, and I do mean every weekend, he would dig that money out and split it among us evenly. Then, we would walk around the block and cut through the woods behind his neighborhood, both of us trailing behind him, or running around him like two little tornadoes made of excited little girls on our way to get candy, chips and snack cakes.
Time was eternal back then. It stretched on forever, with my weekends spent at my grandparents house. My mamaw (Grandma) cooking for us, and Andaddy playing with us. Taking walks around the block. Petting the horses at the back of the neighborhood. Childhood is and always will be the best part of life for most people. It is a time when you have no worries. When you are surrounded by friends, loving family, and good times.
Then slowly our visits over to their house started to wane as most tend to do once they have reached teenagedom. There was more important stuff to occupy my time…at least in my teenage mind. Friends to talk to, people to hang out with. Then time moves faster. Only when you’re young, you don’t realize how slippery and slick such a thing time can be. The clock ticks on and you think, “I’ll call tomorrow”, or “I’ll go see him next week”. When your young, the awareness of time passing and being gone to never see again is not a thought in our heads. Time is only an ever expanding tomorrow, when all can be accomplished, because today is just for fun.
Until we arrive at the day that we are no longer teenagers. We are adults ourselves now. We have jobs, and we go to college. We grow up.
I met my husband when I was 18. I was immediately enthralled and the time train chugged along its tracks from there. I became a mother who was still in college. I was busy. Too busy for an hour long visit once a week. Or at least that is what I told myself. So the visits became even fewer and far between. So when I would go see him, I would be in shock about how is luxurious dark brown hair that I loved to run my fingers through and marvel at the softness and thickness when I was a child, had now gone almost completely gray and became a bit rougher, though still thick and full. I would wonder where all the wrinkles came from, and worry about that new mole on his arm that had not been there in my memory.
I would bend down and kiss his cheek. My sons Schyler and T.J. would do the same before they ran out the door to climb the trees in his front yard on the side of the driveway, the same trees Amber and I would climb at that age. I would tell him I would be back soon. At that moment, those words were always the truth. Then my busy life would make it a lie.
I was in my front yard helping my husband Thomas take down the Christmas lights from the fascia board when I received a call from my mother. She told me to get down to the hospital as quick as I could. Something was wrong with Andaddy.
Time. The slippery serpent had caught up. Its venom that had been working its wonders on my young mind, had finally taken its toll on my grandfathers aging, ailing body. He had died. I had not gotten to say goodbye.
Despite the passage of time and several years since he left us all, I still think of him almost everyday. Time may take away our loved ones but it can never take our memories. At least not fully. It may dull their quality and sharpness; I still remember the smell of his cologne, but not the brand, even though I would see the bottle standing atop of his dresser in his room. I remember he was the best grandfather, and I remember what was important to me. Why those memories are the most cherished and why others did not register or simply faded away, I don’t know.
So I will once again say goodbye Andaddy. I love you. I’ll see you one day, though I will not tell a lie and say it will be soon.
Then again, time does fly.