Friday, March 1, 2013

Grandpa Sonny

Grandpa Sonny....

I believe that is how I was first introduced to him as...just that..I remember it quite well.  Jerad had brought me home to meet his parents during the summer after we met.  I remember sitting around Grandpa Sonny and Grandma Juanita's table, filled with food, getting to know the rest of Jerad's family.  Of course, fried potatoes, chocolate cake, and sweet sweet (2 cups of sugar worth) tea made up the menu--and as I'd learn, made up most of the menu's for get together's at their house.  True southern goodness.  I still can't get used to chewing my tea.  But that is how it is...and how I love remembering my time with those two.

I remember Sonny looking right at me and asking what year I was in high school...haha, at this time I was in my 3rd year of college.  At which I replied, much to his surprise.  He said I didn't look a day over 16!  I think he was relieved a bit, wondering what Jerad was doing bringing a 16-year old girl around!
Dinner around the table I first met Sonny at!

As Jerad and I's relationship grew, I was invited to their Saturday morning coffee and Dr. Pepper breaks at Juanita's dress shop.  Jerad and Sonny would slip in the back door of The Fashion Cottage and into the break room at 10 am sharp...Juanita would have a cold Dr. Pepper for Jerad and a strong cup of coffee for Sonny along with some type of sweet treat.  This tradition had been going for a long time and I was finally 'included' in this coveted gathering.  At this point I knew I was 'in!'

My time with Sonny came post-retirement so I never was able to watch his carpentry skills in action, but was able to view his detailed work in many homes.  He was known for his detail and diligence to kitchen work, cabinets, and building home structures.  But I do know we have a very durable, toy box that the kids jump off of, climb in, slam the lid on and pack full that came from the fingers of Sonny's creativity.  And this I will treasure and be able to share with the kids as a memory.

As I sat at his funeral yesterday I thought about what else Sonny represented, and realized he was so much more than a completely honest and funny old man who loved sitting on his front porch in the sunshine.  He was more than a man who loved to drink coffee and play cards with friends.  He was more than a man who LOVED his grandkids and great grandkids and was always asking when we were coming back....whether it be when we lived in Cherokee and I'd walk Leah around the block in her stroller to visit Sonny in the mornings.  Or when we moved away and we'd come to visit every so many weeks or months...he was always eager to hear of our return.  He was more than the grandpa who convinced Leah a monkey lived in his fireplace and went so far as to buy a gorilla and hid it in there one summer. The first thing Leah always did upon arrival at his house was peek in the fireplace to see if the 'monkey' was still living in there!  We had a great laugh the day a monkey WAS hiding behind the fireplace doors!  But what else I realized was that he represented the last of a generation that brought long-distance cousins together for birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.  He was the one person left who kept us all coming together, no matter the distance driven, to share in each other's presence.  He was the remaining immediate connection that we all traveled to make.  I only hope we can continue to gather, in his spirit, and in his memory, for the sake of our kids and families knowing and growing up together.  Making the same memories we have.

What I also realized was that he was only 1 of 2 great grandpa's my kids have the blessing to share love with.  Which is truly a gigantic gift, they may not realize now, but will appreciate someday.  What even struck me more, was when the preacher said yesterday that Sonny was the great grandparent to my 2 girls, and my 1 son.  And my heart filled with joy as I realized he gave Blake the gift of having a great grandpa.  Grandpa Sonny helped fill the void of abandonment Blake had only a year and a half filling it with his presence, with his role, with his love.  Ahhhh, my cup runneth over at that thought! 

Thank you Lord for the hope we have in you.  For the assurance that Sonny is in Heaven, sitting on his front porch, ringing the doorbell outside his mansion in Heaven, for Juanita to bring him a cup of Heavenly coffee.  What a sweet thought, what a sweet man, what a sweet couple!

We have so much to learn from men and women like Juanita and Sonny.  And I thank you for the sweet lessons I learned during our time together on this earth.  
Autum playing with the fireplace-hiding monkey!

The porch that represented so many memories!