From his later years, he ruled the roost from his big, oversized recliner next to the woodstove. I'm afraid of what I might find if I looked in the crack where the seat meets the armrest on that recliner. For years, we've been in on a conspiracy with Grandaddy. My Granny is a health nut. If it has fat in it, or salt or butter, or any of those other things that make food taste so good, then it didn't come in her house. But Grandaddy had a sweet tooth like nobody I'd ever seen. The whole family would sneak him candy and goodies any time we could and more than once, I'd see him shove the candy down the crack of his chair to keep Granny from finding it. If anybody ever went to the beach, you better believe that Grandaddy would need a box of salt water taffy. And on holidays, you better believe that we kept Grandaddy stocked in chocolate covered cherries. And he'd just chew and chew on candy and when Granny would walk in the room, he'd sit there, cheeks puffed out on both sides, full of sugar, with the most guilty smile on his face. My Granny always called my Grandaddy "Lover". When I was little it would embarrass me to death, but I love that that is what she called him. She'd walk in the room and see those full cheeks and that big grin on his face and she'd say, "Lover! What've you got over there?" And he'd say, "What?" all innocent, like he had no idea what she was talking about. Then he'd give a little chuckle and be satisfied with himself that he'd pulled one over on old Granny.
Grandaddy was a quiet and softspoken man. Maybe that's because my Granny is a chatterbox. They were a great compliment to one another. Married 54 years. Blows my mind. There are few things that Grandaddy needed in life to be happy: his Bible (which he read everyday), good books, a well stocked pond and a fishing pole, sports (especially University of KY) on TV and his family. And his family loved him. And respected him. And treasured him. And will forever.
I am so sad that Grandaddy will never get to meet Miles. My brother and I are sad that our sons won't be able to know and remember him and know him for the wonderful man that he was. I do know now, though, that Miles has an angel looking over him, keeping him safe until we can bring him home.
While it is so hard to let go, it is comforting knowing that my Grandaddy Willard has a new body that does what he wants it to do. That he no longer has any pain. I bet that he's probably made some great plays in some heavenly football games and has probably taken Jesus on a few fishing trips already. He may even be able to show the master fisherman a thing or two. Because if there is anything that I've learned from my Grandaddy, it's that there is no problem so big that can't be cured with a little prayer and some quiet time at the pond.
Love you, Grandaddy! You will be so missed.
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.