Christmas Memories With My Papaw
I grew up in a house with my mom, two sisters, and my step-father of whom did not like me very much. My mom married him when I was six and my sister was only three. He never really wanted much to do with me. He did, however, seem to like my younger sister okay. I always knew he wished I was not there. This was really tramatic for me growing up. The one and only thing that gave me hope and happiness was my grandparents. When I was still a young child, every year on Christmas Eve, I would anxiously await my grandparent's arrival. They would spend the night with us to be able to see us open our gifts on Christmas morning. I would stand at the window watching for them. When they pulled into the driveway, I would get a rush of excitement. There was nothing like that feeling. I would run out to meet them so happy to see them. They were just as happy to see me too. We would do our hugs and kisses for a minute and then gather up the food and presents they had brought and carry them into the house. By the time I finished putting all of the presents under the tree it was an amazing site. Presents where piled so high. I always knew they had brought me something good. I would go between the kitchen where mamaw and mom where cooking and sitting down next to my papaw in the living room. I was back and forth trying to absorb all the fun and excitement that I possibly could. Papaw would always bring a lot of fireworks he had bought for us. After supper, we would go outside with papaw and shoot them. Papaw would look up in the sky and ask us if we could find the little dipper and the big dipper stars. We would find them together. Then, all of a sudden, he would say he just spotted a red light in the sky. This would send us into an excitement frenzy. He would tell us that it might be Santa Claus circling our house and we better get in the bed so that he could deliver our presents. Of course we listened to him. If papaw thought that was Santa, then no doubt it was. Papaw was the smartest man in the world. We would put the mattress in the floor so we could all sleep with mamaw and papaw. Me and my sisters and mamaw and papaw would all crawl in and try to go to sleep. But, sleep did not come fast. My sisters and I would be to excited to sleep so we would keep talking. Finally when we were exhausted with excitement, sleep would take over. The next thing we knew was mama standing in the door telling us to get up and see what Santa had brought us. I can not explain to you the excitement that would come over me at that point. It was almost debilitating. I could hardly stand up on my own. Papaw would help me up and guide me to the hallway. He was always there to help me when I needed him. Christmas morning was great. Paper was thrown everywhere. We had bows in our hair and those little twisty tags(you know those things that hold toys in the boxes) were scattered all over the floor. This was my happiest time. I loved Christmas. But as the day went on, I would have a sense of dread. I knew that my papaw and mamaw would be leaving soon. When the moment arrived for them to leave, I always cried.(This always brought me trouble later with my step-father.) I would beg them not to leave. I know now this tore at their hearts. They didn't want to leave me either. They knew my step-father did not treat me like he should. I know now this was so hard on them. Mamaw would always cry and papaw would hurry to the car so I could not see the tears in his eyes. It was really heart wrenching. I knew I would see them soon but I hated for them to leave me. After they left, I would feel sad and depressed. The next day I would be okay. I would start counting the days until I could be with them again.
My papaw was a great man. He always did his best to show me the love, care and understanding that I didn't have from my own father and step-father. If I needed him, he was always there. If I was sick, I would call him and he would pray for me over the phone. I always felt better after he prayed for me. He died in June of 2001 from a long battle with cancer. His body was so worn out from the chemo and radiation. He was tired and needed to rest. A few days before he died, I came home from Alabama where I had been living, to see him. He and mamaw where now staying with my mom so that she could take care of them. As I was sitting on the couch with him, he looked at me and said, " Baby, your mamaw and I will not be around much longer." Of course before he could say anything else, I told him not to say that because he was going to be fine. He would get through this because he was strong and he would be okay. Well, he just let it go, he never said anything else about it. He knew it would upset me. At that point, I was in so much denial . Later on as I was standing in the kitchen talking to my mom, he made his way up the two steps into the kitchen and told my mom, " I don't want to see her go but it's getting late and I hate for her to be driving back in the dark." Because he had lost most of his sight due to mini strokes, he did not know I was standing beside him. I thought, being as sick as he is, he is still so worried about me. Later, when I was getting ready to leave, I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him a long time. I told him I loved him many times. Never knowing that it would be my last time to hear these beautiful words from him he said, " I love you too baby".