Thursday, March 16, 2017

PAP

I mentioned in my last post how an unexpected encounter with my granddad encouraged me greatly Monday evening at a time when I was feeling weary and down. I have not seen Pap since his death almost 44 years ago, when I was only nine years old. I don't have any pictures of Pap, and I have often wondered if, after all these years, I would recognize him if I saw him.

Pap and I were big fishing buddies. I wrote about going fishing with Pap in a post that you can read HERE.

But Pap and I weren't just fishing buddies: we were best friends. I was Pap's favorite grandchild, and he loved me and delighted in me. Whenever I was with him, I KNEW that I was precious and cherished.

The funny thing is, if you ask my siblings or cousins, they would all probably say the same thing: "I was Pap's favorite grandchild." And they would be right. Pap was magic like that.

Knowing that I was Pap's favorite did not make me feel puffed up, like I had something over the other grandkids. It humbled me. I felt like I had been entrusted with a very valuable but completely undeserved gift. Knowing that Pap loved and delighted in me made me feel humble and safe and strong and beautiful and special, all at the same time.

Pap didn't think kids were a burden or an annoyance - or if he did, he never communicated that to me. Whether he was feeding hogs or fixing fences or driving to town for garden supplies, he welcomed me to go along with him to help - but, honestly, folks, how much real help can a 6-year-old be at a feed mill or on a hog farm?! Folding feed sacks, sorting nails, holding tools...Pap made little-child me feel like my "work" was important, like it had real value.

You know how a smell or a song or a sound can - in an instant - transport you completely to another place and time? There is a certain rose perfume that, whenever I smell it, for just a second - the blink of an eye - I am a young girl again, standing in the blue bedroom at Mer and Pap's. I see the dark blue satin bedspread, and the polished wooden cupboard in which Mer's fancy Sunday hats are stored, and the fan-shaped pink china perfume bottle reflected in the dresser mirror, and the twisted trunk of the red bud tree outside the window. For just a second, I am right there.

So, back to Monday night...

I had driven Helen to Farm Bureau in Union City for a 4-H meeting. Thinking I could maybe get some writing done while the kids had their meeting, I poked around for a place to hide out with my computer. The conference room looked like a perfect place to park.

Pictures of all the past Farm Bureau presidents were displayed on the wall at one end of the conference room. A bunch of old men, most of them long dead...not likely that I knew any of them, but I think old pictures are cool so I took a second to look over the pictures before unpacking my laptop.

And then...

"That's my Pap! That's my Pap!"

For one brief second, I was a little girl, looking into the face of the man I loved most in the world, the face of the grandfather who loved me most especially, and I felt humbled and loved and safe and strong and smart and beautiful and valuable, all in one enormous, electric, tumultuous surge of emotion.

Of course, two heartbeats later, I was 52-year-old Camille again, with sore joints and a nagging headache and a mile long ToDo waiting for my attention...just a tired, middle-aged woman standing alone in a chilly conference room, staring at an 8-by-10 black-and-white photograph.

Same old Camille...except for the residue of lightning that still tingled in my veins, the excitement of a most beloved child standing at the feet of her most beloved Pap.

I do not believe in chance meetings.

I have been in the Farm Bureau building countless times. I have even been in that same conference room on multiple occasions. But Monday night, my Father - who is most kind and tender and loving and who is always present - He knew that I needed a strong dose of encouragement. And He encourage me in a most powerful and unexpected way. He had me look into the eyes of my grandfather.

I have not seen Pap since his death almost 44 years ago, when I was only nine years old. I don't have any pictures of Pap, and I have often wondered if, after all these years, I would recognize him if I saw him.

Not only did I recognize him, but, for a split second, I stood at his feet.


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