My grandfather was a simple man. He worked, took care of his family, cared about his neighbors, believed in God. He raised his own children, then his grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
I was the oldest of the three grandchildren. My memories of him are many and some are especially vivid. There were the hours I watched him sitting in his maroon easy chair, his favorite, in a corner of the living room. He’d have his old bible open in his lap, sitting in quiet contemplation. There were warm afternoons where he could be found in the backyard watching little gray squirrels play along the fence or in the trees. I would find him sometimes at the border of our property, just next door to the Catholic Church, stooping to pick up the pecans that had fallen from our tree. He would sit on the porch swing in the front yard looking out on his watermelon red crepe myrtle, and flower beds that always held my favorite lavender hyacinths.
My fondest memories are of the many mornings I watched him getting ready for work. He was always awake early while the rest of the house slept. He would eat his breakfast then pack his lunch into a black metal pale, thermos always full of black coffee. That done, he would sit in the kitchen allowing himself one last cup before leaving the house while it was still pitch black outside.
Being the curious type and never wanting to miss anything, I would wake and join him in the kitchen, being quiet not to wake my sleeping sister. It was special somehow, to share those moments and to know that for just that time, I had him to myself. Now that I look back on it, he probably would have preferred to have that time to himself but he never made me feel unwanted. I would watch him, ask him what must have seemed like never ending questions, and always ask for coffee so that I could be like him.
It must have been the aroma or the idea that it was such a grown up thing to do. I was probably no more than seven or eight and had no business drinking coffee, but he always obliged. I sat next to him sipping from my cup that was more milk than coffee, but I didn’t mind.
To this day, thinking about those mornings will bring a smile to my face. Because even though he would always indulge that curious little girl, he would always caution “Don’t tell your grandmother I let you have this, ok?”