PEEPAW, MY MIRROR
“Papaw, it’s my turn to go to Ace Hardware with you!”my cousin Ian begged.
“Papaw, how do you like my chicken casserole?” Aunt Mel questioned.
“Peepaw, I love you!” I giggled.
Extremely annoying? YES! Whenever the rest of my family pronounced his name differently than I, so many frustrations rushed to my head. Now, I’m thankful for being the only one.
From when I was born he consistently worked for my dad, never missed a day. Being he was my Dad’s dad I found it silly he worked for his son. He took commands from my dad exactly like any other worker would. But dad said Peepaw was different, he always worked the hardest. Daily, he wore a trucker hat with a brown, from dust and dirt, Duke emblem on the front paired with a, once blue now faded to gray, letterman’s jacket. Today his jacket and hat hang in my dad’s shop.
When I was little he would always come to my soccer games; in fact, any event I had he would be there. During half time I would go get my Gatorade and look for him. There he was, under the big oak tree, but he always stood out. It had to be his wrinkled hands and the crow’s feet around his eyes. His features slowly got worse, but he was the same bold man all along. After every game he’d take me home in the ratty, old, white pick-up Dodge. It reeked of cigarettes. I used to fake cough at the smell. Strangely, I miss it. Sometimes the burning cyanide scent creeps into my nostrils and I, instinctively, look around for him.
Every time we pulled into the drive way I would jump out of the truck as fast as I could and bust through the door to the house. I’d annoy Meemaw to take me to Wal-Mart, so she did. She’d buy me a new stuffed animal and tell me not to let Peepaw know. But I’d run and jump into his warm embrace, he’d simply laugh and say, “You’re such a lucky girl, Scoot.” Then he would point to the fridge, and when I opened the door a small container of A&G barbeque sat, waiting to be devoured. After I’d finished my container he would pick me uo and spin me around, and we’d walk down to see the horses. This became the ritual.
The whole family took him to the beach when I was ten. His frame had become three times smaller than it was from when I was even seven. He’d become so fragile, bones clearly visible and his bright blue eyes starting to dim. Everyone dashed into the water and daddy brought the raft to play in. I remember I wanted to show off my swimming skills. Peepaw clapped and cheered “Scooter!” while I dove in and out of waves. But daddy never left his side in the water, except once. Daddy accidentallt let go of his arm and he started to float away. Daddy and I grabbed him quickly. That’s how weak he’d become. The rest of that day I never let go of his right hand.
Before school one day of my fifth grade year, we had a message on our answering maching from Meemaw. Daddy frantically rushed to the hospital because he said something had happened. While daddy was gone I sat in the living room with mom and made shapes out of tinfoil. One was a heart that said Scooter. I’d planned on giving it to Peepaw being I knew it would make him smile. Daddy came home soon after… he was crying. “He passed away,” daddy mumbled, “It happened in his sleep so he didn’t feel a thing.”
I was never able to give him the tinfoil heart I made.
At his funeral daddy told everyone, “There was nothing he loved more than watching Callie play sports, but there is something else,” he said, “Meemaw, he told me that he never got mad at you the 50 years you were married, he loved you every single day, and his love grew stronger by the day for you.”
Thinking back, I am so thankful he was MY Peepaw, and to everyone else “Papaw.” I thank god every day I’m his scooter bug. I always will be.
I believe that Peepaw is my mirror. When I look at an old photo of him I see myself in his eyes. I see us. Peepaw and Callie,together.
One night a few weeks after Peepaw passed away, my daddy and I sat on the beach looking at the stars. My daddy pointed to the biggest one and told me it was heaven. I waved to the star and yelled “I love you Peepaw!” The next day, a dog showed up on Meemaw’s front porch. No one knew what to name her so I decided Mimi. She likes to lay where Peepaw did, in the recliner, and loves slepping in his old room. But most importantly, she loves Meemaw more than anything. Peepaw sent Mimi yo us, as a reminder to never stop loving.
Typically I find myself thinking… Does he miss me a lot? Does he think of me all the time? Does he watch over me all the time? Does he still get to see my games? Does he know how much I miss him? Does he hear me before every race I swim dedicate the race to him? Usually at this point I laugh at myself because I think “Does he hear me talking to myself?” but I am absolutely certain he hears me! And I take pride in the fact he’s laughing along.
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