It’s 8:45 in the morning and I’m currently sitting in a cemetery in the small town of Searcy, Arkansas. I decided yesterday that I was going to come to Searcy for the day, to see my brothers, my mom, and my grandmother but stopping by a graveyard was not part of the original plan. As I made the two hour drive from Memphis this morning a Johnny Cash song started playing and it triggered memories of my grandfather. I started thinking about the experiences I was lucky enough to share with him over the years and I decided that I would stop by the cemetery to see him when I got to town, and reminisce about the good times we had and share those memories in today’s blog. For as far back as I can remember my grandaddy has been an important part of my life, going back to the September day that I was born. I never tiring of hearing the story often told on my birthday about how he was in the middle of coaching his high school football practice when he received word that my mom had gone into labor a couple hours away in Memphis. He told my grandmother that he would finish coaching and then make the trip to see me, but that my grandmother should take her mom and go ahead and not wait on him. My grandmother and her mother arrived at the hospital to find that my grandaddy had beaten them there. Apparently he had a change of heart and and decided that he couldn’t stand waiting, so he left practice early to come see me for the first time.
My grandaddy was there for all the important moments in my life and I’ll cherish those memories forever. He not only was there for my actual birth but was the one who baptized me when I made the decision to be reborn in Christ. He was the officiant at my wedding and the guy sitting in the front seat of long road trips with his gigantic atlas opened, mapping our route. Even though the atlas was completely unnecessary because we had a brand new gps system, he stood by his principles and that is something I admire about him. I’ll always remember playing super mario brothers on nintendo after school, eating cheek-its and drinking diet orange slice. How many people my age can say that not only did their granddad play video games with them, but actually owned a gaming system of his own? I’ll never forget the late nights we spent watching the three stooges or playing games like rook or chicken foot with the dominos.
My granddaddy introduced me to things that I probably never would have known otherwise like the Statler Brothers and Johnny Horton. I used to go on road trips with my grandparents to watch the college baseball team my uncle was coaching and you can bet that by the time we returned home, we’d have listened to “Flowers on the Wall” and “Battle of New Orleans” more times than I could count. Also of key importance on these trips were the snacks we had in the car, most notably wheat thins with cheez-wiz, cheez-its, and M&M’s. After eating a handful of chocolates you could always count on my granddad to ask for something salty to get the sweet taste out of his mouth, and then upon eating cheek-its ask for something sweet to get the salty taste out of his mouth, and so it went for miles. There are so many more memories I have of him, and maybe one day I will get around to sharing more, but these are the one’s I’m thinking about today. It’s terrible that he’s gone and I will miss him for the rest of my life, but at least I was fortunate enough to have him play such an active role in my life, and for that, the memories I have, and the things he taught me, I’m incredibly thankful.