No, not Lady Diana. Di was the name I called my grandfather...my Mom's father. Meme and Di. They were, without doubt, the most special grandparents I could have ever asked for. And today, Januray 6, 2009, would have been Di's 100th birthday.
It's hard to believe.
If ever there were a grandfather that possessed that perfect combination of charm and goofiness, tenderness and playfulness, it was George Lightsey. To me, he was even a tad mysterious. Mainly because of...the garage.
Out in their backyard in Robertsdale, Alabama there was a single car garage that was part storage, part Voyage of Discovery for my sister and me. The smell was musty and damp with the occassional scent of motor oil wafting through the air. On the back wall was a collection of old license plates--mostly from Alabama--arranged in tidy rows. They were situated just above the small Frigidaire that contained our favorite treat...the little colored sugary drinks with the aluminum foil lid. In fact, that was usually our first stop after arriving at their house for a visit.
Along the left side of the wall hung a row of dried out ghourds...very mysterious with their bulbous shapes and the strange shadow dances they made on the wall in the late afternoon sun. Clearly, the garage and the contents thereof made Di seem like a man of mystery and intrigue. I am sure he would have relished the title.
Di was also quite playful at the dinner table-- much to the dismay of my oh-so-prim and proper grandmother. When we'd eat spaghetti, he'd let a long strand hang out of his mouth before turning the "cranks" (his ears) to suck in the piece leaving a neat row of excess sauce on his upper lip. With one swift lick, he'd sweep it off his lip with a dramatic sound effect as my sister and I giggled in appreciation.
He'd tell jokes and stories and even get down opn the ground and play Fisher Price people with us in the pretend "town" that Jenny and I established between the above ground roots under the big ol' magnolia tree out back.
All of these memories are recollections of a granddaughter of her grandfather. But, as I look back now as a grown woman, I see the love he poured into my grandmother. He treated her like a princess and made sure she was pampered on a daily basis. Their love was a love that surpasses the boundaries of time because the sweetness of it still resonates with me til this day.
My grandfather passed away when I was in the seventh grade and my grandmother, his wife of over 50 years, died 11 short month later. He may not have lived to be 100...but all the memories I haveof that sweet man will always live on in my heart.
Happy Birthday, Di.