Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Early Birthday, Papaw!

We each live a life, a tale to be told.  I've always thought about whether my story is worth reading or not.  Some people just have that kind of life, the one you want to know more about.  They seem superhuman, almost, or at least have that something special.

I've been blessed in my life to know all four of my grandparents.  I love each of them for different reasons... they are all special because they are unique.  Their stories are those worth telling, and they tell them well.  But there is just something about my Papaw Paul. 

Papaw has always looked like Santa Clause.  A head full of white hair, a bearded face, rosy red cheeks, twinkling blue eyes.  I never will forget when my Great grandpa Barlow passed away.  I was in the 8th grade, and a couple of my younger cousins (on the Clemons side) looked up reverently as Papaw Paul walked into the funeral home. "Wow!" one of them exclaimed.  "Papaw Barlow must have been special. Santa Clause came to his funeral."

No, he's not Santa Clause, but his generosity can match Santa's.  Papaw would give you the shirt off his back.  Raised poor, he worked hard to help support his younger brothers and sisters.  He graduated from high school with honors and went to Michigan to work hours a day to provide for my dad, uncle, and aunt.  He came home and on the weekends worked on his farm and fed his fish and built in his basement.  The smell of sawdust still brings back memories of Papaw downstairs, making me homemade microphone stands. I spent a lot of time there, and there was nothing like Papaw's cornbread crumbled up in a glass of milk. 

As I got older, Papaw was always there for me.  He had his own "bank" and the reserve never ran out.  I'd sign an IOU, and every year at Christmas, Papaw would give me a notecard saying someone had paid off my balance.  He told me that it was his pleasure to help me out, but it was my responsibility to help out my younger sisters in the same way. 

Papaw is the smartest person I know.  He can figure out anything, can think outside of the box better than anyone I know.  A few years ago, his ice sculptures (made out of trees, branches, and water through water hoses) amazed everyone who drove by Hollybush.  He even was mentioned in the Herald Leader and was featured in the book Kentucky: Off the Beaten Path. 

He has a wicked sense of humor.  I will always remember Wallace's first Christmas with us.  Papaw got a hot pepper and dipped a toothpick in it. He was the one laughing the hardest when Wallace realized just how hot Papaw's hot peppers were.

Next Wednesday, Papaw will turn 80.  I think he's lived a life worth living, and his tale is definitely worth telling.  There is not enough space in this blog to tell how much I love him, and all of my granparents.  All I know is I'm one blessed girl =)

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