Grandaddy Artis “Sug” Appling Sr.
It was the day before my birthday. I was 7 months pregnant in upstate New York. Just me, my husband and our two year old. Hundreds of miles away from our Floridian family. Before I could get out of bed for work my father calls.
My grandfather had passed away.
My birthday will never be the same.
I had been back home for work a few months prior and thought to myself “I need to go see my grandfather.” But I didn’t. The only day I would have been able to fit in the hour long drive was the day before my flight. I let my fatigue and the thought of more fatigue from the drive get the best of me. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t regret not making that trip.
My grandfather suffered from Dementia and his health was not the best. But his spirits were. Before Dementia he was a force to be reckoned with. He stayed with a cigar hanging out the corner of his mouth. Never leaving that spot. Which was amazing because he talked a lot. He didn’t hold back anything! If he thought it, he said it. It may be inappropriate, vulgar, loving, encouraging or funny.
He had a nickname for all his grandkids. Mine was peanut. I don’t remember him ever calling me anything but Peanut. And he made the BEST boiled peanuts. Literally the best! I would walk in the house and see the pot on the stove and get super excited. He would pack me a big bag to take home that would last for days. (He also gave me my first piece of sugar cane.)
Almost three years later it is still hard for me to go to my grandparents’ house without him there. Sitting in his spot. It just doesn’t feel real. Because I was so pregnant and so far away I wasn’t able to go to his funeral. So I’ve never known the house without him. A part of me wished it was all a dream and he would be sitting on the couch when I came back.
The dream was real.
If you are blessed to still have your grandparents I urge you to spend as much time as you possibly can with them. It may not feel like it. But trust me, they will not always be here. The “I could have done more” feeling is not a nice one to have and it never goes away.
Grandaddy Eddie Hills
I am blessed to also have my maternal grandfather alive and very much a part of my life. Growing up my granddaddy was like a 2nd father to me. My dad was in the military, so he lived somewhere else for most of my childhood. But I never felt the void of a present father thanks to my granddaddy.
He took me on my first (and only) fishing trip. I caught one fish and you couldn’t tell me nothing! He said it was too small and made me throw it back. I haven’t been fishing since.
He took me school shopping, took me on trips to town and cooked for me…a lot! After I bought my house he took a trip to Jacksonville just to cook me his famous smothered pork chops and homemade biscuits. I remember it like it was yesterday because it was the same day as Whitney Houston’s funeral. The whole family came over. We ate, watched the services (with a lot of commentary) and hand a grand old time together.
I have countless wonderful memories of quality time spent with my grandfather. And now, my boys are creating their own. He is just as good of a great-grandfather as he is a grandfather. Every single solitary time we visit my grandparents he has something for them. I’m not talking like a hot wheel (like a normal person would have). There are remote control cars, monster trucks, Star Wars toys…the list goes on. He keeps his personal mini fridge stocked with juice for when his great-grand kids come over and no snack is off limits. They have fun with granddaddy!
To put it simply, he’s the best!