My grandfather would have been 105 years old today.
That boggles my mind.
George Dewey Lightsey was my Mom's father and, even though I only had him in my life until I was 13, I remember him as the best grandad that ever was. The entire time I knew my Mom's folks, they lived in a 700 square foot house in Robertsdale, Alabama. I have written about their home before and how many of my most cherished childhood memories were made playing with Fisher Price people on the roots of the magnolia trees that shaded their little backyard.
Because I lost him as a young girl, the memories I do have of "Di" as I called him are not great in quantity; however, they are as rich and vibrant as if he were standing here today. He was a bit older than other grandfathers but was as playful as the boy next door when it came to my sister and me. Many a time as we ate spaghetti, he would "crank" a long strand of sauce-laden noodles into his mouth by spinning his fingers in a circular motion beside his head and making a loud slurping sound. Much to the chagrin of my prim and proper grandmother, the result was always a rim of sauce along his upper lip that he delighted in licking off as my sister and I giggled.
But what I remember the most about this man-- more than his garage filled with old license tags nailed to the wall and slightly eccentric collection of gourds suspended from the ceiling; more than his warm smile and twinkling eyes-- is the love he showed to my grandmother. Frances Lightsey was a dainty and utterly-proper lady with perfectly polished red fingernails and regularly-coiffed beautiful white hair. He treated her like a queen and doted on her with an adoration rare after so many years of marriage. Even sleeping in twin beds next to each other, they would fall asleep holding hands across the space separating them. After fifty-plus years of marriage, they were very much partners and very much in love. And, fittingly, I lost them both in my seventh-grade year proving that not even death could keep them apart for long.
Happy Birthday, Di. I miss you and would give anything for my own children to sit in your lap and giggle at your endearing goofiness. And although I have now gone thirty years without seeing you, I can close my eyes and you are there. Thank you for the happiness you imparted on my childhood. I lost you too soon but I sure was lucky to have you for a grandfather.
Sweet memories indeed.