Ode to the Old Man

Today is Thanksgiving Day, and I would like to talk about one person in particular that I have been blessed to know. This person was known by me as “The Old Man.”  Besides my Mom and Dad, which I am thankful for; my grandfather has been the most influential person in my life.

He was a fine southern gentleman, strong, sure of what he wanted out of life, and a great family man. There wasn’t a day that went by where he didn’t work hard and play harder. He was well loved and respected by many.

One thing I will always remember about him is how he always had faith in me to be the best person that I could be. Never once would he allow me to use my disability as a crutch. Another thing that I will always remember is following him around like a little lost puppy as he mowed the two acres of grass that he done faithfully. I am sure everyone can remember my most favorite time of all with him. That being all the years he would get a puzzle (with Grandmom’s encouragement) that the whole family would put together beginning on Thanksgiving Day and lasting over the holiday season.

I am digressing on purpose. It has only been ten months since he passed away. I always thought that by now, I would have a better grip on his passing. I am man enough to say, I still shed joyful tears when I talk about him. While writing this blog, I have stopped several times to reflex as tears flowed.  As with many of the family and friends he had, I miss him a lot more on days like today. He was always the life of the party – and what fun we all had.

He taught me so many of life’s lessons – to many to count. If I would take the time to count them, it would take eons to get them all listed. However, in this blog, I want to discuss only the four main lessons he taught which I am thankful for.

The first thing he taught me was how to be a true southern gentleman.  Those who know me well will say that I am brash and bratty. That may be true but if you look deeper you will find that true southern gentleman that “The Old Man” was. I love to have fun and I will tease you mercilessly if I like you but I know how to open the doors and tip my hat to the ladies.

The next thing he taught me was about loyalty to your family and friends. I have always had a great wealth in family but friends have been hard for me to make due to my speech impediment. When I do make friends – even when I get lucky and get a girlfriend – I cherish the relationship and am very loyal and dedicated to them. There are not enough words in the English language for me to put on paper that would cover the value I put on friends and family.

The third life lesson “The Old Man” taught me was only do what I have a conviction for. To stand behind that which I believe in, fight for the rights of the underdog, if I want something go for it and don’t quit until I have it, and always be honorable in everything I do. Lying, cheating, stealing and other such acts had no place in his life and he didn’t want it in mine.

The last thing I would like to say about my grandfather is that he had a wealth of faith in me and never gave up. From an early age, he seen the talent I held with in me to be a writer. He always encouraged me to write. I never understood his convictions over the last twenty years but now I do. I wished I could have gotten the meaning before he passed away. I have always wanted him to see me holding my first published novel. I know that he is looking down on me and is very proud I am finally getting out of my procrastination stage and writing again. I know he sees my determination to get my first project written and published. I know when my novel is published; he will be looking down from Heaven smiling ear to ear saying “That’s my Wade. He did it.”  Knowing that gives me peace but oh how grand it would be if he could be here to get my first copy. Sometimes I think that Towanna and The Old Man have met and they are plotting against me; pushing me to accomplish what they know I have within me. That is ok – between them both – I know I will be published one day.

So here is to “The Old Man” – Judge Milliken – a salute. Rest in peace: I love and miss you old man.

Pssssssssttttttttt, can you talk to the big guy up there to see if he can help the Cubs win the World Series next year? A Devine intervention is needed.


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