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TITLE: Paw Paw's Promise
By Beth Meeks
02/09/05
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This is a memoir about my granddaddy I am looking at submitting to a publisher who is going to publish a book about grandparents and their impacts on our lives.
Paw Paw’s Promise

I awakened to the smell of coffee and a clatter of cups that sounded like distant drums to my ears. When my eyes opened, I noticed it was still dark outside. I rolled over and squinted at the clock. 5:45. “Who in the world is up this early”, I mumbled.
Then I remembered. My granddaddy, or Paw Paw as the was known to all us grandchildren, was visiting for thee weekend. He had come from his home four hours away to attend a family reunion being held nearby. My grandmother, or Maw Maw, had decided not to make the four hour trip, so he had come by himself.
Paw Paw was a short chubby man with thinning dark hair. He always wore his pants just a little too high over his belly and had a nervous habit of shuffling back and forth from one foot to the other. I loved him dearly and was always thrilled to have him come visit, even if he did always wake me up early. He was always fun to be around with his quick wit. You never knew what he would do or say next.
Once when we had gone to his house for a visit, he asked my daddy to go with him to run some errands. While they were driving through a busy section of town, a man stepped out in front of them and Paw Paw, who was more thank likely moving a little faster than the speed limit, had to swerve to miss him. Paw Paw stopped, rolled down his window, and with a great big grin yelled at the man, “That’s alright. I’ll get you next time.” Daddy was still laughing at the surprised expression on the man’s face when they got back.
Just then I saw a shadow pass by my bedroom door. I knew it was my daddy. No doubt he’d heard Paw Paw in the kitchen as well. He looked forward to visits from his daddy as much as I did and wouldn’t want to miss their early morning coffee time.
“I didn’t wake you, did I?” I heard Paw Paw ask as daddy went into the kitchen. “ I tried to be real quiet.”
I couldn’t help but giggle. Paw Paw always said that when he came to visit but he always managed to wake everyone up as he rumbled around the kitchen fixing his morning coffee. We all joked that he went to bed with the chickens and got up with them.
I pulled my blankets up and attempted to catch a few more hours of sleep. I couldn’t help but smile as I pictured them sitting at our small wooden table, coffee cups in hand, talking about family members and reliving old times. Then every now and then in a quiet moment, Paw Paw would stop and hum or even sing a favorite hymn as a smile slid across his face and he pushed his glasses up on his nose.
I must have drifted off to sleep because a few hours later I was awakened by a tap on my shoulder. I opened my eyes to find Paw Paw standing over me.
“Do you have any hairspray?’ he asked, pointing to a cowlick in his thinning hair.
“Sure,” I said. I slipped out of my bed to my dresser to retrieve the small bottle from my dresser.
“You do it,” he said, as he tilted his down so I could spray.
As I finished, Paw Paw smiled and gave a tug at his already high pants and said, “Got to look my best for the kinfolk.”
Later we all headed to the family reunion. Daddy and I, who didn’t inherit Paw Paw’s outgoing personality, found a spot in the corner with some relatives we knew. From there I couldn’t help but watch Paw Paw “work the room”. I was always in awe of how he could meet someone for the first time and in less than five minutes he’d made a new friend. People seemed to be drawn to him like a magnet and he always knew how to make others smile.
Much too soon it was time for Paw Paw’s visit to end. We walked with him to his car and I overheard daddy mention to him that we would be coming for a visit in a couple of months. Then just before Paw Paw climbed in his car, he grabbed me and hugged me in one of his tight bear hugs and said the words he always said to me whenever we exchanged goodbyes. “I love you and Jesus loves you. If I don’t ever see you again here on this earth, then I’ll be waiting for you in heaven. I promise.”
I smiled. “I love you too,” I said.
I didn’t know how much those words would mean to me so soon. Just a couple of months later we headed for my grandparents just as my dad had promised. But it was not for the fun visit we had planned. Paw Paw was gone. He had suddenly been taken from us by a massive heart attack.
On the four hour drive to his home I thought about him a lot. I could see him shuffling from one foot to the other as he talked. I could see him pulling up those high pants. I could hear the soft hum of “Amazing Grace” and “What a Friend We Have In Jesus”. But most of all I could hear his last words to me and I knew in my heart that those words held the truth that I needed for this difficult time. I knew I would see him again. It was a promise he had been given. A promise he believed without any doubt. And through his life, his words, and even his songs he had passed that promise on to me.
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