I remember being a young child and riding with my grandfather in his pickup truck. He was my dad's dad, he lived with us, and I called him Papaw (much to my mother's chagrin; she would have preferred that I call him Grandpa or Granddad, but one of her friends always referred to him as my Papaw, and the name stuck).
Each day he'd go out in his truck and make his rounds: coffee (and perhaps donuts if I was with him) and a drive through the cemetery where his father was buried. I'd ride along sometimes and we'd listen to the radio, country music. There was a Randy Travis song that always made me think of him.
If the story's told, only heaven knows,
But his hat seemed to me like an old halo.
And although his wings, they were never seen,
I thought that he walked on water.
He was a good man, simple and kindhearted, but could have a sharp tongue when angry. I was always amused, awed, and a bit frightened when he would curse. Once when I was about seven or eight years old, I hid a whoopie cushion in his chair, which he very unsuspectingly sat upon. I swear he jumped ten feet in the air. I can still hear his gruff voice, grumbling, "What the hell was that?" as he looked around the room while the rest of us snickered. Our family actually captured the moment on a home video. I found the video a few months ago, watched it for the first time in years, and laughed.
He always wore blue work shirts, and when he was going out, a button-up sweater and his red and white Robinson's Building Center cap. He chewed Beech-Nut tobacco, and he had false teeth but I don't think I ever saw him wear them. He'd be awake at all hours of the night, unable to stay asleep for long because of arthritis pain. He'd sit and read westerns, and was always ready to talk and tell stories to anyone who'd sit with him for a while. He loved to give to others and kept very little money for himself. He never wanted anyone to pay him back; he just wanted people to remember to help others when they were able.
He passed away eight years ago, on March 1, 2003. He's buried in that same cemetery under a dignified old tree.
And I loved him, and he loved me,
And Lord, I cried the day he died,
'Cause I thought that he walked on water.