The day of my Granny’s funeral I went and drank coffee on the porch with my Pepaw. He had quickly become a shell of the strong grandpa he once was, so I promised a coffee date in hopes to lift his spirits.
As I was leaving I told him to stay strong and to fight.
“Pepaw,” I said, “you are the only piece of Granny we have left. Please hang in there. Please keep fighting. I need you.”
He simply replied with “I love you, baby” just as he did every time I left his house.
Many memories with Pepaw involve coffee on the porch. We discussed politics, religion, his past, and the weather. No matter the topic, he was quick to offer words of wisdom whether you wanted it or not. Thankfully, I listened to much of his advice…even when I was rolling my eyes.
He has taught me so much about this precious life.
He taught me what happened to his grandmother in the war of 1944…but we’ll save that one for another day. (It’s a not so appropriate song that I’m only allowed to sing with him)
He taught me to never let a man disrespect me…and he has assured every guy he met that he had a shotgun he wasn’t afraid to use.
He taught me to believe in myself and my abilities. When we talked about my career goals, he pushed me to dream bigger and insisted that I never settle.
He taught me and my cousins several pranks that we won’t discuss here because our parents are readers…they involve hubcaps.
He taught me that it’s okay to give in. I’ll never forget the day he was bickering with Granny. Instead of continuing to fight, he tied his white handkerchief to his cane and retreated to his bedroom in defeat, calling out “I surrender, I surrender!”
He sure did love my Granny.
He taught me to really study my Bible, not just read it. That man’s Bible is tattered, marked up, and falling apart. And his faith…steadfast.
During one of my recent visits with Pepaw he reassured me over and over again how much he loved my Granny. He begged that I believe him. I assured him that I knew how much he loved her because of how much he loves us. He loves our big, crazy family as his very own, biological or not.
This is the most important lesson Pepaw taught me:
To love without hesitation. To love without question. To love without bounds.
Pepaw has loved this family no matter the race, religion, disappointment, or decision. He has loved and supported us through the highs and the lows. He has been there for us through weddings and babies, graduation and addiction, heartbreak and holidays (which are usually eventful for our big, loud family).
Pepaw’s days are limited and our front porch visits have moved to a hospital room, but the lessons have not stopped. Every time I visit Pepaw I am reminded to love and to live, to enjoy every second of this incredibly fragile life, and to never settle.
I pray that my Pepaw is proudly looking back on his life because I know I will forever cherish memories on Pepaw’s porch.