My Goodbye To A Southern Gentleman

My Grandfather
I wasn’t going to write about this, didn’t really want too because I thought it would be too painful. Re-opening slowly healing wounds is never good, but it weighed so heavily on my heart and my mind that I would be upset if I let the day, month, year go by and not say anything. Overcoming loss or overcoming grief is never easy. No one can tell you how to get through it, we all grieve in our own way. So as a part of my grieving process, I wrote a letter to one of my hero’s, my strong man, the smartest, kindest and sweetest man I know, my grandfather, Levi C. Smith., Jr.

It’s a year to the day that you left us. I knew it was coming, we all did. In your moments of clarity you spoke constantly about wanting to go home and be with your mother and see your brothers. During your last days you had become frustrated and agitated that Jesus hadn’t come to take you home yet. We knew, we felt the shift of the seasons, but it still hurt none the less. I called you that day to check on you, to hear your voice, to make you smile but you were napping. I heard the sorrow in grandma’s voice that day though, so much so, that I immediately picked up the phone and called my mom to let her know something was wrong. That something was off and I didn’t know what. So hours later when I got that call it didn’t shock me, it just felt surreal.

The days that followed were all a blur, but your girls jumped in to handle business, just like you knew we would. I don’t think your passing really became real to me, until I leaned in to whisper my final goodbye and strong hands began to pull me back and usher me to my seat. That’s when the flood gates opened and time stood still for me.

As I walked back to my pew, all these wonderful memories started playing in my mind. Times when you and grandma would drive down south and visit your father and we would sit on the porch to cool off (because there was no central air) and you would let me play in your hair. Times where you would come in from working the late shift and we would stay up until the wee hours of the morning laughing, eating and watching wrestling. One’s of me watching you clean and gut your catch from a big day out at sea. You were tired from your task, but you never ran me off with my constant questions and chatter, you always took the time to talk and laugh with me. No more running into your arms and you rubbing my head with your knuckles. No more watching you stroll smoothly into the room with your hand in your pocket while you softly jiggled your pocket change. No more being a taste tester for your country cuisine. I’ll miss slipping my feet into your black slippers and stomping through your house in them. I’ll miss the sweet smell of the cherry flavored tobacco you use to smoke in your pipe. I’ll miss the homemade pear preserves that you made in mason jars by special request only.

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14:18

Growing up, you never judged me or my decisions, you just passed on your wisdom with a “Well”, and a gentle shrug of your shoulders’. You were truly one of a kind. The epitome of a southern gentlemen through and through. The only thing that eases the pain is knowing that you leaving us wasn’t really a goodbye, it was just a see you later. I love you and I’ll see you on the other side.

P.S. And when I get there we can finally take that fishing trip that Alzheimer’s stole from us.

Love,

Tashauna

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

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