Granddaddy’s Girl

Nano and Granddad ~ 1970s

We will bury my Granddad tomorrow. It’s been hard to find my words since he died. I think it’s because it’s profoundly hard to lose some of the simplest love of my life. For me, grandparents are uncomplicated love. Parent, child, sibling, spouse & friend relationships have nuance to them. But my Nano & Granddad loved me fiercely because I exchanged oxygen; breathing in and out was enough for them to think I was spectacular. I returned the favor by worshipping them all my life.

He served in World War II as a Marine. He was tough as nails, but I can never remember him being anything but gentle with the grandkids. When he used to take me riding in his truck as a child, I would stand in the seat next to him with his arm wrapped around my knees (cause that’s the same as a seatbelt). We would go “visiting,” as he called it. He would take me to see his kin. Most of them are dead now, or close to it. I don’t remember many of them except as vague figures who rattle around in my mind. I can still hear their voices though, mostly their accents. They were country people: smart, but not sophisticated.

Granddad with my sister and me ~ 1976

The Depression required him to leave school to work. His lack of formal learning bothered him on some level. He used his Marine Corps skills to drill into me and my sister the importance of school. “Get your education, girls” he’d say, over and over again. “That’s something no one can ever take away from you.” My sister is a college graduate. I hold a Masters. We did what Granddad told us.

He used to introduce my sister and I as his girls. He’d say, “Wouldn’t take NOTHING for my girls. Wouldn’t take a FORTUNE for my girls.” We would puff up our chests because we were Granddaddy’s girls.

Me in Granddad's recliner ~ Halloween 1984

He always had his favorite recliner. For decades, it had an ashtray next to it. I would sit on his lap while he smoked (another salute to safety). The cigarettes made his final years particularly uncomfortable. Smothering from asthma and emphysema is not an easy way to go. That’s why my uncle’s kids have such different memories of him. By the time they were old enough to remember much about Granddad, age and illness had taken part of his spunk.

He lived to be 83. Up until the very end, he was lucid. He went with dignity, surrounded by his wife of 63 years and two sons in his home. It was a good death.

Monkey Boy with his namesake ~ 2009

I know I’ve been blessed. No one gets grandparents into their 30s. Until last year I had all four plus step grandparents. (My people live long lives. Some of the women go stark, raving nuts at the end. So there’s that to look forward to.) The truth is, lots of Southern girls could write about their Granddads much the same way as I have. Southerners make spoiling the children of their offspring an art. But even though I know I’m not unique, I still feel special and grateful I was one Granddaddy’s girls.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Granddaddy’s Girl

  1. Love this. He sounds like a wonderful man; so glad you had him for so long, and glad you had this weekend too…

  2. That made me get all teary. I just lost my grandpa a month ago so I’m still feeling all those feelings myself. I’m so sorry for your loss. Grandpas are the best.

  3. This brought tears to my eyes. I grew up next door to my Memaw and Pops, and losing my Pops three years ago, one month before my wedding, was one of the hardest experiences of my life. I’m glad you got to have your Granddaddy so long, and glad you got to say goodbye. And I’m so, so sorry for your loss.

  4. I know it was sad to lose him, but you are so lucky to have had him, whole and healthy, for so long. I am barely 50 and haven’t a grandparent or a even parent to my name and I miss that terribly.

    “breathing in and out was enough for them to think I was spectacular” That is exactly what grandparenting should be. I wish more people could learn that lesson, including me.

    Hopefully you will have a lifetime of great stories about him to share with Monkey Boy. That’s what keeps our loved ones alive, even after they are gone.

  5. So glad you had the opportunity to have a grandpa in your life. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    This was a beautiful piece! Your words came back to you I think.

    I only had one grandmother that I can remember (the two grandfathers died before I was born and my maternal grandmother died when I was a baby.) The only grandmother in my life spoke Swedish, but not English, so if my dad (my interpretor) was there I could talk to her. If not, then it was difficult for a child.

    I’ve thought about this often, and felt that perhaps half of me was missing all these years.

    Blessings to you!

  6. What a beautiful post! I’m so sorry for your loss, he sounds like a wonderful man.

  7. What a beautiful tribute. I never knew either of my biological grandfathers and I lost my grandmothers quite sometime ago. My maternal grandmother was married to a man named Kiah that “was” my grandfather and treated me like a grandson.

    I’ll never forget watching ‘rasslin or playing dominoes with them.

    I like how you said grandparents think you are amazing because you exchange oxygen. Awesome.

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