Thursday marked the true end of my childhood.
My Pepaw passed away. I received the call while I was at work. My mother had called my school room phone at 9:23 am to tell me that my Pepaw was non-responsive, the EMT's had left, and she would keep me posted. When she called me back at 10:50 I knew what was coming. To say that the wind was knocked out of me is an understatement. I drove to Albany that day.
As I drove into town, I thought about all the amazing things my Pepaw did for me. This man, a wonderful man, took such good care of me. When my parents divorced, we had nowhere to live. My grandparents took us in. For the first 3 months after our move to Albany, we lived with them. He helped my mom find a home. Then, when that home began to fall apart, he fixed it. (And fixed it and fixed it). He could fix anything, I swear it.
I would often wake up to find a rose (cut from his rose bush) in a jelly jar on my dresser, usually with a five dollar bill tucked under it. I did not know how to pump gas until I came to college. I thought inspection stickers, registration tags, and oil changes took care of themselves magically.
As I began to get older, he drove me insane. He would literally steal my car from school and clean it out. I would be so mad. Can you believe that? I think about how spoiled I was and how little I appreciated it. It makes me feel sick now, if I could I would shake my 17 year old self.
We spent summer after summer at the lake. My family, the Neff's and the Bartee's. On Thursday the "Lake Crew"s final member arrived. I know Cooter, Chuck, and Pepaw are together now, making trouble.
Today I went to the grave site alone. I needed to say my own goodbye. I wanted to thank him, really thank him, for all the little things he did for me. Those things may not seem like a lot to someone else, but when you add them up over a lifetime...well to me it is priceless.
An era ends today. My Pepaw is gone. I have to be the one to keep his memory alive for my daughter, so she will know what an amazing man he was. I have to keep his memory alive for myself too.