It's a week 'til Christmas. I know if this were twenty years ago, you'd be going to town with Mom or one of the other girls and buying a gift for every single person in the family. Eleven kids, their spouses, and all twenty or thirty-some-odd grandkids.
I never thought about it then, but looking back, it's amazing how you made each of us feel special. I had no doubt you'd do anything in your power for me. And I'm confident the other grandkids felt the same.
I miss you, Mamaw.
It's especially hard around the holidays. We still get together on Christmas Eve. And it's still my favorite time of the year. But something's missing. Every year, I look around at everyone talking, laughing, singing. And I wonder if they think the same thing I think. Someone's missing.
Some of my absolute favorite memories in life are Christmas Eves at your house. I remember the year it snowed and the pond iced over. The year one of my cousins was getting a bicycle for Christmas and I could hear my uncle beating and banging and putting it together. The year we were driving home from your house and I saw Santa Claus knocking on someone's door, and got worried I wasn't going to get home and get to sleep in time.
One of my favorite Christmases was the year I spent the night with you on the 23rd. And being there the next afternoon when all the family started arriving. I wish I'd done that every year. I'll always regret not spending more time with you, Mamaw.
I know you understand. But it was my loss. We don't realize certain things when we're young. But anytime I passed up an opportunity to spend time with you, it was always my loss.
Do you remember the last time I saw you, Mamaw? I don't. I can't. And it makes me sad. Although I guess it's good for you that it happened quickly. That you didn't suffer or go thru some prolonged illness. I just wish I'd been able to say goodbye.
I'm worried about Mom lately. Work has been very stressful for her the last couple of years. She's having health problems more frequently. She's started repeating herself a lot. I don't know what to do, or say. I wish she had you to call and talk to about things.
I try and spend time with her whenever she asks. Even though she called me Thursday night to see if I'd ride to Walgreen's with her. And I told her no. I feel guilty about it now. But we went shopping Saturday. And I'm gonna keep trying to do better.
I still remember your phone number. To this day. That must mean I called you a lot, right Mamaw? That must be a good sign or something. If I remember your phone number after all these years. I wish I still had you to call and talk to.
Sometimes I wonder what things about myself I got from you. I remember how kind you were. How giving. How you put others ahead of yourself. You lived in an old two-bedroom frame house, never had a car or even learned to drive. And you let me borrow money to go to my junior prom.
I don't know if I ever said thank you for that. I don't even know if I ever paid you back. But thank you, Mamaw. I hope some of your good rubbed off on me.
As for me, Mamaw, I'm doing well. I've rediscovered a love, and perhaps some talent, for writing. Sometimes I've written things that have made someone cry. This is the first time I've ever teared up while writing.
I'm 33 now. Next year will be fifteen years since you left us. It's hard to believe I've been without you nearly half my life. I'm trying to remember as much as I can about you. And writing it down, in case I forget.
I remember how you'd sit up late watching Carson. He retired just a few weeks after you left us. I like staying up watching Letterman. I remember how you'd snack on bananas and Doritos. And how you'd always send me home with a bag of candy, fruit, and other goodies.
One thing I miss the most, Mamaw, is how you were always proud of me. I think that's the greatest gift anyone could ever give. Unconditional love. I guess I don't have the greatest job now. I'm not rich and famous. Not married. No kids. But I know if you were here today, you'd still be proud to call me your grandson.
And I'll always be proud to call you Mamaw.
I miss you.