100 Years

Even now I can see Pawpaw’s faded overalls and hear the jangle of mechanic’s tools in every pocket as he walked.  My Pawpaw was tall and lanky.  He also had a cigar perpetually perched in the corner of his mouth (though it was usually a stub and unlit in later years).  Last month, my Pawpaw would have been 100 years old.  We celebrated with a meal of his favorites-pinto beans with cornbread.  And no party would have been complete without a banana pudding, which he much preferred over cake!

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My Pawpaw, Jesse, was born in 1920.  I loved sitting and chatting with him about what he had seen in his life as he turned grease-stained solitaire cards over and over.  He was the type that could say more in a few well-chosen words than those who prattle on for hours and say nothing.  He was from the era of letting your actions speak.  His actions spoke loudly.  He was a mechanic by trade.  Living in the South, Pawpaw fixed everyone’s car-regardless of color or creed.  This was definitely not the norm.  He could simply lean over the engine, listen well, and fix what was broken.

His life wasn’t easy.  At age eleven, a truckload of logs fell on his leg. His femur was shattered beyond repair.  Experimental surgery was performed-a sheep bone was used to replace his bone.  And it worked.  A challenge appeared later.  He was eleven and eleven year olds grow.  The sheep bone didn’t.  His leg remained that same length the rest of his days.  I can still picture the cane hanging from the loop on his overalls.

In 1970, Pawpaw was given the Tennessee Handicapped Citizen of the Year award.  An award he never told me about…which is just like him.  I am thankful for this man who lived a hard life and served others well.

Happy 100th Birthday, Pawpaw.  Love you. Longing for the day I hear you say “Love you, too,” again.

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