"Look, baby, I caught you something." He held his catch up; it blinked on and off thrice before I leaned over and blew gently on it to spur it to flight.
"I hope I didn't hurt him," Jimmy said.
"I'm sure you didn't, dove."
My papaw died this morning. I didn't call him or go home on Father's Day this year even though I told myself over and over that if I didn't go, I'd miss my last chance. He'd been bed-ridden for over a year. I knew, yet still I didn't go. Last time I saw him was Christmas.
I hope he had a happy life. He was always such a gruff, hard-ass, old man during my childhood. He was quick to take a switch to my cousins or to make a jab about how much I was eating. He was always the mean, angry man in his recliner at holidays who shouted for us to be quiet. As he got older, people seemed to dismiss his remarks; he'd lost his bite or we'd lost our fear. Then he became less gruff and his sarcasm turned to humor. Perhaps he was just too tired to yell anymore. Perhaps I had just been too young to recognize the humor before. It wasn't until I got into my twenties that I started to figure out that he actually loved us.
His life was so much more, so much longer, than the brief time that I knew him. I suppose children are fated to know only the shadow of their parents and grandparents rather than the people, hale and happy, who they once were.
I don't think my father ever had a good relationship with him. I wonder if I'll be as calm as Daddy is in thirty years when I lose him.