Times With Papaw & His Timing

1986! I was ready to go to college for my sophomore year. But I had a serious dilemma. It all really started a year earlier though and I didn’t even know it at the time. It’s all in the past now. I’ve come to grips with it now. But it took a little while. And it broke my heart into tiny little pieces. I think it’s time to just start at the beginning and share the whole experience.

It begins with the relationship that I had with my paternal grandparents. While I never saw them do it I’m quite sure that they hung the moon in the sky every night and the sun in the sky every morning. My Mamaw and Papaw were as close to best friends that a girl could ever hope to have. I grew up spending a LOT of free time at their house. I was the first grandchild. In the end there were only four of us. Two girls and two boys. So we each got as much time as we wanted with them. We did everything together! They were the emergency contacts at my high school. I remember Papaw coming to pick me up when I was sick. We had a great time – just the two of us – even though I was sick. I remember the tickle fights between him, me and my cousin Derick. He liked to take us to the lake and out in the boat. He’d take us out to the edge of the lake and anchor the boat at an angle so Derick and I could get in the water even though we weren’t supposed to. I have a clear picture of him getting the boat ready in the driveway before we would take off to the lake. Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from their house on the weekends. Mamaw and I loved to watch TV together. I remember when the Loreal commercial tag line “Because I’m worth it” came out we would laugh and say that line along with them like we were worth a million bucks. Mamaw was the best cook in the world. We had all of our family meals at their house. My mom and my aunts would bring covered dishes but Mamaw cooked most of the meals. She canned everything that could be canned. Papaw used to love picking on her. She’d get so mad at him for it. But I could have stayed there forever – if only time could have stood still.

When it came time for me to go to college in 1985 I chose to go to a college in Nashville. I chose our denomination’s college, Free Will Baptist Bible College. The closer it came to time for me to leave in August, Papaw told me he didn’t want me to go away. I remember feeling like it was a sentimental emotional. Each time I saw him he would give me one of those big Papaw hugs and tell me again that he wanted me to stay closer to home. I tried to get him to understand that the Bible college was where I felt like I needed to be. He told me there were colleges closer to home that I could go to. I remember my family had Mamaw and Papaw up to the house for a “goodbye” dinner at some point right before I left for Nashville. One of my parents took a picture of me between the two of them. I’ve searched for years for that picture but I haven’t been able to find it yet. I’ll explain in a little bit why I want to find it so bad.

But the day came and I left. I spent my first semester at college. I had a great time. I was on my own. I studied. I made friends. I was on the drama team. I dated. It was just the perfect semester. When I came home for the holidays, I had a shocking surprise and not in a good way. During the time that I left for college and had that perfect semester my Papaw was gravely ill. When I came home I found him with an amputated leg and part of his lung gone. What in the world? What happened? The last time I saw him was the night that picture was taken and then I come home and see this with NO WORD as a warning or a hint as to what was going on. Everyone BUT ME knew he was sick. Everyone BUT ME knew he was having surgery right after I left for Nashville. Everyone BUT ME knew that he had a leg amputated. Everyone BUT ME!!!! I’ve had it explained to me a million times. And this was 28 years ago so I have forgiven my family members. But I will never forget it. How do you forget something like that? I want to cry just thinking about it now all these years later.

So that kind of brings me to the point in 1986. My Papaw was on death’s door. I knew that he was nearing the end of his life. I didn’t dare go so far away again a second time. So I applied to a college closer to home and had been accepted. I was one week away from having to go to college. My heart was telling me to go back to Nashville. But my head was saying NO WAY was I leaving him so near death in the hospital. Emotionally I was a wreck. I made some bad decisions during that period of time. I could see the timeline laid out ahead of me. Where would I be at college the following weekend? I had no idea. I decided that I would lay a fleece out before the Lord like Gideon did. On Sunday August 16, 1986 I told the Lord if I was meant to go to Cedarville (the college close to home) to help Papaw make a recovery in the week ahead. But if I was to go back to Nashville to college to let him live through his birthday, August 18, and die the next day. I put all of my faith in the Lord to reveal his will to me through that fleece. The Lord answered me. Papaw lived through his birthday and died at 2:00 a.m. on August 19, 1986. That was my answered prayer. He answered me in about as direct a way as he could. I was able to get back to Nashville in time to start my sophomore year at college.

My heart was broken and it still is when I sit down and think this all the way through. But I try to remember all the good times. It seems to mend the broken pieces. Twenty Seven years ago today the Lord took the best Papaw a girl could ever ask for. I hope he’s been enjoying him up there. One day I’m gonna join him again and we can continue all of our fun times. And he’s be walking on two legs again and have two complete lungs to laugh with.

I discovered why the Lord was sending me back to Nashville. I had begun a relationship with a guy the second half of my freshman year. While feelings were building for this guy in Nashville, my concern and emotions for my Papaw overshadowed the potential boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. But in some way, where I would go to college my sophomore year would determine the future of this relationship and I am convinced this is part of what God was working out during this experience with my Papaw. As it turned out, I married this guy – now 26 years later, we still reminisce about grandparents.

The whole family together for Christmas

The whole family together for Christmas – 1985




The Heirloom Handkerchief

April 6th marked the 10 year anniversary of my grandmother’s funeral. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. When you get to the age that you start seeing important people from your childhood dying it reminds you just how short life is and how quickly time goes. I’ve been talking about that a lot lately since the kids are set to graduate next month and both leave for college in August. Savor every minute with those you love because before you know it the time will be gone.

I have a few of my grandmother’s things that she gave me over my lifetime or items that I “tagged” after she passed away. I came across one of those a few days ago. I can’t recall if it is something that she gave me or something I took.

This is a handkerchief of hers. The first thing I did was put it up to my nose to see if there was still a scent of her on it. To my great surprise, it did. It smells like her. It’s hard to describe how someone smells. She wore Estee Lauder perfume and she had moth balls placed in all of her closets. To just think of those two smells together might make you crinkle your nose. But to me those smells mixed together bring up sweet memories. It brings to mind all the times that I would come to visit after leaving home and she would grab me up and squeeze me tight. She would always whisper “I’ve missed you” as she hugged me. If I could only have one more hug – one more squeeze – one more whisper in ear. Then when I would leave she would give me another of those big hugs and ask me not to go but telling me she loved me.

I dug a little further in the drawer where I found the handkerchief and look what I found.

I found a total of 6 handkerchiefs. Each one smells just like her. They are my most treasured possessions. I am going to put each one into it’s own baggie to preserve that smell as long as possible. I’ve decided I’m gonna give each of the kids one. I thought it would be a wonderful treasure to pass down from their Grandma Bonnie.

I love her and I look forward to the day I can feel her wrap her arms around me tight in heaven and hear her tell me “I’ve missed you”. Until then I will treasure these heirloom handkerchiefs and remember.

Driving In Reverse Can Lead To Hilarity And Maybe A Torn Up Yard

While reading Mrs 4444s blog entry for her Saturday Sampling post this morning I was reminded of a particular event that occurred about 29 years ago. I’m really surprised that my mind could remember that far back but decided I should put it down here so someday when I can’t remember my name I can read about the fun I used to have as a teenager.

Mrs 4444s entry was about an event that happened with her brothers. Since I am an only child and therefore do not have any brothers – essentially that’s what the term “only child” means – most of my memories of brother/sister kinds of events involved my cousin Derick. Here is Derick now by the way.

Derick is the one sitting next to me - Between me and Missy

Now imagine him much shorter and about 150 pounds lighter (maybe more – I’m not good with numbers).  Anyway if I was 15 then he was 12 or 13.  Our Papaw was teaching me to drive. Over a series of weekends he would let me drive his car (which we will get to in a minute) around the block and teach me various things about it. It was usually just the two of us.  Derick and I always went to their house on the weekends so we were together a lot. But for these driving lessons Papaw would just take me. I loved it, by the way. Just me and my Papaw equaled ultimate perfection!!! (Note to self: find a picture of us)

Anyway, one particular Saturday Papaw was going to teach me how to back out of the driveway. It was to be my first lesson in going in reverse. That should have been the first warning sign but it wasn’t. Derick asked to go with us this time. That should have been the second warning sign but it wasn’t. Papaw said yes – a choice I’m sure he regretted about 5 minutes later. So the three of us go get in Papaw’s car. At this point I need to inform you that THIS is a very similar version (except in silver) of the car I was driving:

Sometime in the 70's Ford LTD (A.K.A. a land yacht)

Please notice that a family of four could sleep on the hood of that thing. And their extended family could sleep inside of it. THE THING WAS A BUS!

Now you have a good idea of what I was working with. At this point I am behind the wheel, Papaw is in the passenger seat and Derick is directly behind me in the back seat. That should have been the third warning but it wasn’t. Papaw is instructing me on how to put the car in reverse and how to put my foot on the brake to ease out of the driveway while turning the steering wheel slightly to the left. I do remember laughing at this point. I’m not sure if it was because I was nervous – because I laugh when I’m nervous – or if Derick was saying something to make me laugh. So, the most logical explanation for my laughter is Derick – so we’ll go with that.

Ok, I start backing out of the driveway with the land yacht under my control, Papaw instructing me every second and Derick in the back seat laughing or something annoying. In the span of the 5 seconds since Papaw’s lesson on the brake pedal I forgot what he said. I put my foot on the gas instead of the brake. Yeah, I think you see where this is going. I did not turn the wheel nor did I use the brake but the car WAS in reverse. So what does that tell you? Yep, I went straight back at break neck speed in the neighbors yard across the street. Nearly all 4 wheels were in their beautifully manicured front lawn. At this point it’s hard to help you envision exactly how quickly everything happened but I will attempt to try. First of all, Derick is killing himself laughing in the FLOOR right behind me which of course is making me laugh. Papaw is yelling at Derick to get out of the car – Derick is laughing too hard to move quickly enough. I am laughing (remember the nerves and laughter thing) hysterically not only at myself and the situation but at Derick who is laughing at me. The only person NOT laughing was of course Papaw. He is telling me to put the car back in gear and SLOWLY move out of the neighbors yard so as not to tear up their yard anymore than I already had at the same time that he is telling Derick to GET OUT OF THE CAR!!! I suspect he might have used a couple of choice words but I don’t remember those.

Oh my stars that is the funniest thing! I’m not sure what we looked like but I have a feeling Derick and I weren’t the only ones laughing. And I think Papaw and the neighbors were probably not the only ones mad.

So you see I may have been an only child. And Derick may have been an only child. But I still had an annoying little “brother” on the weekends. He nearly got me killed and if I think hard enough about it I’m sure there were other times he tried to kill me too. I’m not sure why because I was always a very sweet, tender and encouraging big “sister”. I don’t know what his problem was actually.

What was your problem Derick? And why did you try to kill me.

Gifts That Can’t Be Wrapped In A Box

I am finally back to my computer – which means I am finally back to blogging on a normal basis.  I have sooooo missed it.  I have missed all of you.  I hope you are still coming around.  I am blessed by your comments and the connection I feel with each of you.  I pray all of you had as blessed a Christmas as we did.  Santa found me here and then he found me in Florida too.  He brought me all kinds of goodies.   Continue reading