A Great Black man-Songs for my Grandpa in EflatMarch 18, 2008
In all of my blogs about relationships and stuff, I purposely make a distinction between males and “good men.” In the course of me writing and talking to people, I’ve been asked (mainly by males) What is a good man? I really had to think about it, because there is no blanket answer. I’ve every guy I’ve dated was a good guy, but not necessarily a good man. Some guys are good men but just because he’s a good guy doesn’t make him the right good man you me (or you). So what is a good man?
I’ve been blessed to spend my whole life in the company of a good man; My Grandpa. My grandfather’s not an educated man. He and many of his brothers left school at an early age to work as share croppers to help support their large family. He grew up to be a hard worker. He married my grandmother when they were both 21-years old. I’m a year older than that now, and it’s amazing when I think that by my age my grandparents had just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. My Grandparents had my mom two years later and moved to Florida so that my Grandpa could work in the factories.
To this day my mom talks her trips to the fair with my grandpa when she was a little girl. They’d ride the merry go-round, watch the animal races, and leave with a yummy treat. My grandfather is dedicated. He worked hard to provide a home and a life for his family, without an education in the segregated south.
He’s a quiet man if you don’t know him, but once he warms up you can’t get him to shut up. In my mind he is the perfect grandfather. He still surprises me with MacDonald’s breakfast, and checks out my car without my asking him (and most times without me knowing). When I was a little girl I thought he and my dad were the biggest men alive and in my eyes they were. My granddaddy worked the nightshift in the flour mills for many years. I remember having to be very quiet during the day because he had to sleep. Every night around ten o’clock he’d fix himself a lunch from that evening’s dinner, sometimes he’d fry a fresh piece of pork chop or some sausage links and head to work. I’d yell “bye granddaddy” and he’d say “bye Poo, I left you a sausage.” Even though he worked crazy hours my grandpa was always faithful in picking me up from school. Everyday we’d head out to “safety circle” and the kids would ponder how long they’d have to wait before their parents showed up, but I never had to wonder. Because by the time we walked out of the door, there sat my grandpa in that burgundy Lumina, ready to take me home.
My granddaddy has never been the type to lavish folks with flowery language. When I was younger I’d leave the house and say “I love you Grandpa” he’d just say “yeah.” It never bothered me really, he’s just himself, and I always knew he loved me. So when I moved out of the hours for my freshman I headed towards the door like I’d done many nights before but this time I was so busy I hadn’t said “ I love you” just “bye Grandpa.” To my surprise he yelled back “I love you Shannon.” It shocked me, partially because Grandpa rarely calls me Shannon (just Poo) and because he never really said “I love you”! I cried. For those two years, he told me he loves every time I left to go back on campus, but when I moved back home he stopped. It took me a while to figure out why but soon it made sense. For him, “I love you” is something that you say, when you can’t show. Love is an action word, and my grandpa shows it everyday in his faithfulness to my family. He brags on my cooking, tells me he’s proud of me for going to college and still sits through the “new outfit fashion shows” (I just can’t out grow those =) ). My granddaddy is my protector, he shows me that the qualities of a good man are in the heart no matter how much money he does or doesn’t make.
My granddad is older now, but he still walks a mile a day, he likes doing his yard work, and being the strongest person in the house. But some days he doesn’t feel so well. I fill out so many medical forms and insurance documents for him that I’m on autopilot and it scares me. In my little girl mind, I don’t want anything to slow down the biggest man in the world or my world may stop. But I know that in doing those things for him, I’m using the lesson that he’s taught me all these years. That love is an action not just the words.
My grandpa-kins, as I call him, is a GREAT black man, and I know that if my Daddy is half as good of a grandpa to my future children as my Granddad has been to me, than they’ll be blessed.
I love you Grandpa!!!