in memory of my Pap Willard
Yesterday was visiting hours, and today was my Pap Willard’s funeral. The only thing that kept me sane was listening to my older Hoopey relatives tell me stories. My Grandma Louise’s sister Ollie and cousin Paris and his wife Louise, and my uncle fischer, especially. Today at the funeral, I read a poem that I wrote about my grandfather called “Home” or “Return Home.” Two days ago, I received news that this piece will be published in Plain Spoke‘s Spring issue in April ’09. How strange to hear that the day after my grandfather’s death. My grandfather got to hear the poem, and his reply was “I like that,” which was high praise. I will remember a lot about my grandfather and how he inspired me to live, but some memories stand out even more than others: learning how to count in “hoopey numbers,” combing his hair for a “wagon wheel” (a silver dollar), learning how to whistle, looking through his photo albums and being touched by every newspaper clipping that any of us were ever in, even honor roll lists. I know all my cousins have great memories of him, and Jada shared some of the more recent ones today. She did a really good job. She woke up at 3 in the morning and wrote what she read today, so I told her that meant it had to come out. She was worried that it wouldn’t be as good as mine because I have all these degrees, but if it comes from the heart and it overflows out of you like that, it is good. More recently, I remember my granpa telling me exactly what drawer and where it was to find the water sand paper for a project I was working on. At that time, he couldn’t get off the couch, but he still knew where every single thing in the house and garage was. I also will never forget that he put in his absentee ballot for “the black guy” keep in mind, he’s from the hollers of west virginia, and when Barack Obama was declared president, he said, “well i guess i lived long enough that my vote counted.” He was a man who was okay with his lot in life. He told me he’d already lived 25 years longer than he was supposed to, because at that time he went to the hospital and the doctors told him he had to quit smoking or he would die pretty immediately. So he did. And when he was diagnosed over two years ago with lung cancer, the doctors said 6 months at best. Well, he stayed until he was ready to go. Now he is with his 6 brothers and 4 sisters who have already passed on, his parents, and his wife Louise. I’ll meet you there one day, Pap.