He Didn’t Make It, But He Did



A loud mouth.  A completely overbearing will.  Uncompromising, incensing determination.  These are not qualities that would generally elicit adoration for their owner.  However, these qualities are those that I remember most fondly about my grandfather.  Unfortunately, I didn’t understand what my granddaddy was until he wasn’t here so that I could tell him that I did know.

             I have now reached the point of cognition that I am in truth more like my grandfather, and I am surprised every moment when I realize how much more like him I am.  There are few people who inspire us so much in our lives that we never realize where their influence stops; my granddaddy was one of these people.

             I believe what I learned and inherited most of all from my granddaddy was a genuine love for all people.  Thus far in my life I have at few times come closer to understanding how to find what I would call true happiness.  Moreso than anything the lesson of sincere kindness that my granddaddy taught me has led me closest to that happiness.  While the idea that a smile from myself can really help someone who I might never happen to see again or that I am inevitably astounded by the portent I can find in being genuinely kind to all people seems trite, each idea holds immeasurable truth.

             I never spoke with my grandfather about generosity, kindness, or love, but I knew these virtues by him more than any other person.  I knew them through him because of what he did, who he was, and coming to realize and believe in why he did and why he was.  I have yet to completely travel that beaten path that my grandfather spent such an incalculable amount of time upon, but I have begun to travel that same path.

             I fear that I lose some amount of sincerity or completeness to what I feel due to the lack of eloquence in what I write.  Quite simply, there are no words that adequately instill a feeling for what my granddaddy was and has taught me to be.  In a final analysis each person must experience kindness, munificence, and love for themselves in order to find that sagacity which was so effortlessly held by my grandfather.

             When my grandfather died my mother said something that holds some unknown importance and mystery to me: “I can hear people in a short time after Daddy dying say something about his death.  I can hear them say “that man died here” or “that man who used to do this or that died,” but he wasn’t just a man.  He was more.  He is more.”  That is perhaps the truest thing I have ever heard said about my granddaddy.  He wasn’t just a man; he was more.  I don’t aspire to be what my grandfather was and still is.  All I can ever believe is that when I die people will perhaps remember me as more than a man, like my grandfather, my teacher, myself.  The last words I have to write are somewhat different.  To my grandfather, thank you for showing me what it is to embody everything I could ever hope to be.  Thank you most of all not for caring for me or loving me, but thank you most for caring and loving everyone in this world without ever realizing what you did…. and still do.




Memory of Love



I remember when I first wrote something about my grandfather. I was in eighth grade, and he had sent me or my mom something or done something, as always, to help us out in some way. So, I wrote him a poem and sent it to him in e-mail. I remember his reply was the same as it always was, "I wanted to do it for you." Later, after his death, I wrote my first memory of him, and now that's on the web site we made for him. And then there's now. I think moreso now than ever I feel a real sense of longing for my grandfather, and I am distraught for the inescapable void that seems so more real now than ever. I find one image that recurs in my head-I walk down the hallway in the funeral home and turn the corner to see my grandfather in his casket. This video, for lack of a better word, replays itself every time I begin to think about my Grandaddy or feel lost knowing that I won't see him again this year when we go home. That thought, even now, as I write this numbs my face and makes me faint. In all of my rationality and sense I can't fathom the simple fact that my Grandaddy died. To me, it doesn't make sense. That's the unresolved situation of my mind. My reflection dwells in this perpetually draining idea, and my physical being is not capable of expressing the loss that consumes this part of my life-this part of me, but I do find comfort and perhaps a small comfort in seeing my Grandaddy in me-in coming to know him as I grow even without him at home. I suppose that is the legacy my Grandaddy wanted to leave, and I imagine that there is none greater. Living inside of the very breath and every contemplation of the people who you hold most dear, that's the legacy that my Grandaddy gave. Whenever I write about these things I always have to write Grandaddy, the capitalized, personal man. I worry that someone reading this won't understand why I do so, and I worry even more that I can't say why. The simple name-Grandaddy-purports everything that I could ever hope to convey about my grandfather. That name is all that I can offer the world of my memories and love that I have for him. Wittgenstein says, "That which we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence," and with that, I end. In the absolute memory of love for Grandaddy, Brantley



April 8, 2002