Grandfather Stewart

When I was a kid, I used to sit out on my grandpa’s front porch with him a lot. It was a great view. He lived at the end of a dirt road, called “snake nation road”. There were a lotta snakes out there. I remember Grandpa killing a bunch of them. He had a long handled hoe that he kept the blade sharpened on, especially for that purpose. If he spotted a copperhead or a rattler, he’d corner it and down that hoe would come “whack”. Off with his head, like the Queen of Hearts would have said. But, all snakes aside, the view off the front porch of his old house was grand.

There was a fast creek just across the dirt road, where I’d often go spend hours catching crawfish and spring lizards. Just stand on the edge, or in the middle of the “crik” and turn over big rocks, and see what was underneath them hiding. You wouldn’t believe the size of some of those critters. But, back to the front porch sitting.

Grandpa would sit there in one of the rocking chairs, looking out at old “Johnny” mountain rising up in front of him, right behind Uncle Lark Davenport’s house. It was a beautiful little mountain back then. Grandpa had killed a lot of deer up there over the years. The antlers hung up on the upper rail of the front porch, along with some rattlesnake rattlers, and various other hunting souvenirs.

Every day at least once a day, Grandpa would get his wallet out of the upper pocket of his overalls, and proceed to count his money. Sometimes he’d have a good bit in there. He wasn’t planning on going anywhere and buying anything, he just liked to count his money. I always thought it was the Scots in him, as he was a pretty tight old man with a dollar. He once told me he “Didn’t want to die broke”.

As he got older, his memory went. I don’t know what type of dementia it was, but he couldn’t remember who he was, where he was, who anybody else was, and couldn’t put together a lucid sentence. Most of the time when we went to see him in the nursing home they put him in, he seemed happy to see us, but nothing he said made sense. It coulda been all the moonshine he’d drank over the years, or poor circulation. I don’t know. He didn’t have his wallet anymore in his overalls, didn’t have any money after a while either. Guess the nursing home got it. He ended up with nothing in the end. He lived to be 98 years old, and the last time I saw him he was in kidney failure, and dying. He died broke, but worse yet died without knowing that I still loved him. I told him, but he didn’t know what I was saying. Money was no longer an issue.

Occasionally, I think about that habit of his when I get my wallet out to see if there’s any cash there. Sometimes there is, sometimes not. I can assure you at this point, there’s never going to be much. But, I do have love. As I sat in the little swing out on our patio this afternoon with Evie and Ellie, and looked out at Lookout mountain, I realized I’m so rich I could never count how rich I really am. I’ve got a wonderful family….children, grandchildren…and even if I someday lose my memories, at least I will have had them. My grandfather never told me he loved me. Far as I can remember, I never heard him tell anyone that. That’s not the case with me.

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