Me and my PawPaw, Patrick Williams in 1973.

Me and my PawPaw, Patrick Williams in 1973.

On the fifth day of Ebony my true love gave to me…

My PawPaw.

When I was five years old, my PawPaw let me talk on his CB radio.  I didn’t know what to say, so I quickly giggled a quick “breaker breaker 1-9, You got your ears on?” and waited for the person on the other end of the connection to answer. 

He loved that radio.

He was a volunteer firefighter and, sometimes that radio gave him a heads up on trouble in the area.  The house phone also rang differently when he was needed…or maybe that’s just a child’s recollection.

He was a quiet man and, as I got older he didn’t talk as much as he did when I was younger. 

When I discussed him with my younger sister, she said, “You know, I feel like we spent a lot of time observing PawPaw.”

She’s right.

I think that’s what I held onto when he died. 

My observations. 

I remembered him as a quiet man of few words…and then I tried to remember if he’d ever said he loved me.

I couldn’t remember.  It made me very sad.

A few years ago, I was thinking about my PawPaw and I suddenly recalled him taking me to a convenience store on Main Street in Tishomingo, and buying me an ICEE. I can still see that red and blue cup with the white polar bear on it.  As this memory popped into my head, many prior trips to that store and hundreds of slushies flooded my memories. 

I was nine years old the last time PawPaw took me out for an ICEE.  My little cousin, Kimberly Dawn, who was two or three at the time, was with us.

“Are these your granddaughters?”  Someone asked PawPaw.

A smile spread across PawPaw’s face as he placed one hand on top of my head and the other hand atop Kimberly’s head. “My first grandchild and my youngest,” he said proudly.

I was his first grandchild.  He loved me. 

Whenever I think of him now, I see that smile and I hear those words.

He loved me.

He may or may not have said it to me in those exact words, but he loved me and he was proud of me.

When I slammed my finger in a locked car door, causing me to lose an entire fingernail…PawPaw took care of it.  That was love.

I think of him when I look at that funny fingernail on my right hand.

When I accidentally pushed my hand through a glass window on the utility room door, it was PawPaw who kept me calm enough to get my arm out without doing further damage.  I was terrified, not just because I was hurt, but because I thought I’d surely get a spanking for breaking that window. 

I think of him when I see that tiny scar on my right wrist.  Had my PawPaw not been there and had that glass sliced me a half inch to the left…

I still remember the look of concern on his face when the wound wouldn’t stop bleeding, and the relief on his face when it did.  PawPaw cleaned my wounds, and patched me up.  He may have even kissed me.  That was love.

I think of him when I smell pipe tobacco.

I think of him when I when I see an old school ICEE machine.

I see that smile.

I hear his words.

“My first grandchild.”

He loved me.