My early years were primarily spent in a Methodist parsonage. My mom, brother and I lived with my grandparents for most of the time until I was about 10 years old. It was like I had three parents in a number of ways. Mom was definitely the mom, but Papa and Granny would care for us when Mom was at work, and would even punish us if the need arose (or at least Papa would!). Some of my earliest memories of Granny are eating frozen peaches with sugar sprinkled on top and watching soap operas (one must remember that soaps in the early '70s were not quite what they are now). During time when Mom was at work and I was not in school, I spent most of my time with Papa. He was a Methodist minister, and I would go off and do "minister stuff" with him. This was usually visiting one of the many church members who needed or wanted to see their preacher. I remember hanging out at old country gas stations, watching Papa play checkers, and eating lots of candy with Sammy Davis, Jr's The Candy Man playing on the radio. I remember visiting old farmhouses way back in the mountains, and using the outhouse when "I had to go!". I remember one older lady that Papa and I would routinely find her glasses for her (I was pretty good at getting down on the floor and looking under chairs).
Papa and I also had a lot of fun together. We would go out and eat Butter Pecan ice cream. We would play checkers for hours on end (I will never forget the one and only time I beat him). He would also drive me around downtown Asheville, encouraging my dreams of one day being mayor - then governor of NC - and then the first female president of the USA. Papa found the current mayor one day and ensured that he and I had a good long talk.
Papa died from leukemia on Halloween, 1977. I was devastated. I will always miss him. Yet, the faith tradition he and Granny passed on to the family has given me a wonderful way always to remember him. Tomorrow is All Saints' Day. In the Christian tradition, each year on Nov 1 we remember the saints who have gone before us, particularly the ones who died in the past year.
I always remember Papa, and give great thanks for him.