First, the foot is officially broken. The stress fracture in my third blah blah has now become a plain old regular fracture in my third blah blah. The fourth blah blah is still just stressed. So now I have to wear my (lovely) boot for 6-8 weeks. Thankfully the break isn’t surgical. I just have to be VERY careful.
Second, I’m still trying to get to a scanner to finish the Retrospective. In the meantime, I found some other pictures and thought it would be fun to introduce you guys to my grandfather.
This is Grandaddy a few years after he was at West Point. (I think he is a first lieutenant in this picture.) He likes to say he graduated at the top…of the bottom 15 in his class. He hid in the bathroom after lights out in order to study his math assignments because he was not good at the maths. (I am also not good at the maths. I just never had his drive to try to understand the maths.)
After West Point, he did a lot of soldier-y things, including fighting in many wars. These are things you can read about in history books or the books he wrote. They are not the things I’m going to talk about today.
See, I didn’t even know my granddaddy was so Important until I was a lot older. I knew he’d been working on a book for forever, I knew the book was big, and I knew a lot of people liked hearing him speak. But it actually took the book being made into a movie for me to even think about reading it. And I did and I was amazed at what I learned about Grandaddy.
When I was little, Grandaddy wasn’t some hero soldier. He was just my silly grandfather, who made me laugh by sending me postcards with pictures of girls in bikinis sitting next to crocodiles. He’d send us Babar the Elephant books and as we read them, we realized he’d drawn pictures on some of the pages. He would have Babar smoking a cigarette, for instance. Little things to make us laugh. Grandaddy is always all about the little things.
He taught us our favorite game, which involved standing at the top of a hill in the backyard in Auburn. He’d toss us a football and if we caught it we’d shout, “WAR EAGLE!” If we missed it (as we did often), we’d holler, “FUMBLE AUBURN!” and roll down the hill. He introduced me to some of my favorite singers, Tom T. Hall, Eartha Kitt, and The Judds. He and Grandmama taught us how to waltz in our tennis shoes. He always let me have the lime from his gin and tonic. He wrote a poem for our dalmatian about how they’d run in the sun. He always made me laugh.
That didn’t change as we got older. When my sister graduated from UT in 2000, Grandaddy and Grandmama took us all out to eat after her graduation ceremony. We had the waiter take our picture and it was only after we got the pictures developed that we noticed another little prank Grandaddy has played:
Can you find him in the picture? (Also, it looks like Grandmama was totally in on the joke.)
My favorite recent memory is from this past Christmas. Every year we make and decorate cookies and a couple years ago, we started a new tradition. We make everyone a round cookie and then everyone decorates their round cookie. Then we have a contest for the best decorated round cookie.
Last Christmas, Grandaddy was our judge. As you can see, he took his responsibilities very seriously.
After a good 10 minutes of deliberation, he chose his favorite cookie:
I’m proud to say the artist of that cookie was yours truly!
I love my grandfather, not just because he crowned my cookie as the winner. And not because he’s a war hero (although he is). I love him because he taught me the importance of integrity, honesty, and well-timed silliness. I love him for reading to me when I was little and worrying about me when I was grown up, often still calling Mom just to check up on me because I have moved to the big city by myself. I love that I can read his handwriting (which is very difficult to read) and that I got to help him type a chapter or two of his second book. And I love that he showed me what true love is, just by how much he loved my grandmother.
He and Grandmama took us into their home in Auburn when I was a baby, after my father left us. They cared for us while Mom went to nursing school and have often said those two years we spent with them were the best of their lives. And he was my favorite. I would wake up in the morning and stand up in my crib and shout, “GRAAAAAAANDADDY!” until he would come and get me. I may not have had a father for a few years but I had something even better: I had a Grandaddy.
To the world he might be Lt. General Hal Moore but to me he’s Grandaddy, Captain Fun, the man who wears the t-shirt I bought him with my own money when I was 8.
And I love him.