Remembering Papaw

I am sitting here stunned at the moment realizing that this picture, if I have my dates right, was taken 27 years ago today. It doesn't seem possible that it could have been that long ago...and yet there have certainly been many changes since then (for instance, I think the recliner in the background has been recovered *twice* since this picture was taken! :)). I *think* that this picture was taken on my Papaw Brown's 80th birthday, May 29, 1981.

A true gentleman. That is the most often-heard description whenever people talk about my grandfather, who died in 1986 at the age of 85. A hard-working man who often worked 7 days a week, 364 days a year, a gentleman who was rarely seen without a long-sleeved white shirt, tie, and his ever-present hat until he was well into his 80s, a faithful husband who had been heard to say during his last fight with cancer, "I just hope I live until our 56th anniversary." He did, and died less than a month later. An incredible family historian who compiled a 3 inch-thick, legal-sized *book* of our family history by typing with two fingers (he typed *everything* and typed amazingly fast for someone who only used two fingers :)) and copying on an old xerox copier at the library. A dyed in the wool worrier (who passed that trait on to his oldest son and his youngest grand-daughter. :)) A stern man who also had a wonderful dry sense of humor and could make me laugh faster than almost anyone.

Papaw and I had a very special relationship. I was grandpa's girl and everyone knew it. When I was two, my mom was hospitalized, and while my other grandparents were still working, my grandfather was ten years older than the others and had already retired. This man who had spent most of his own children's childhoods working suddenly found himself in charge of a two year old while my daddy was at work. Some of my earliest and best memories are of the time I spent with him during that time. Years later I would pack up my books and head to Fort Smith in the spring of 1986 when he was diagnosed with cancer for the last time. I spent many hours in the hospital with him, and then many days with him and my grandmother after he went home. One of the greatest blessings of homeschooling my last two years of high school was having the flexibility to spend most of those last few months with him, and time with my grandmother after he died.

I found this recently...a poem that my great-aunt, his sister-in-law, wrote for my grandmother 6 months after his death:

He was a very noble man.
Forget him, we never can.
It was so very plain to see
He was devoted to his family.

He was kind and understanding,
Never harsh or commanding.
He was honest and forgiving
Working hard to make a living.

He is missed so very much
That gentle smile and loving touch,
That vacant chair that seems so quiet,
The long, long days and silent nights.

We miss you, Foy--
Feb. 87
Jessie Robertson

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