08 November 2011

Big Paul, better than you or I

Paul, Bee, Eas and I just returned from a very important trip.  A very dear friend, and Ada Brooks's godmother, married.  Additionally, we were able to visit other dear people - Eason's godfather and newly inaugurated co-godmother.  These were important occasions, and a wonderful time.

Sometimes, the calendargods become angry at you. Sometimes your dad's birthday dinner is the same night as a much needed girls' night. Sometimes you have a dear friend's baby's baptism the same weekend as free 50 yard line Hotty Toddy tickets. Sometimes you and a favorite person schedule your kids birthday parties same day, 30 minutes apart, invitations already printed.

But the calendar gods were really, really angry this time.

Saturday, a best high school mate got married.
Friday, my grandfather, Paul Burrow Eason, celebrated ninety years on God's green earth. 

Visit to Jackson, 2004

It's always great when old people hit major milestones But my granddaddy is in a league of his own. He's one of those people who is just, well, good.
He'll make you believe that they were, in fact, the greatest generation.

You know that verse, Romans 3:10, "There is none good, no, not one." 

Well, I can remember from a very young age thinking that maybe Paul the Apostle didn't know Paul Eason, the citizen extraordinaire.

Big Paul is better than you or I.  [The Big Paul is referencing the fact that he was a lot bigger and older than Baby Paul, my little brother named for him, who has thankfully lost the adjective attached to his Paul],

When I was in college, I would drive to Tupelo about every-other-week on a Sunday.  He'd take me to lunch - with no amount of pretension - we ate Olive Garden, or his favorite, IHOP.  We'd go back to his house and I'd do my laundry and we'd work crossword puzzles together.  I was his go to for pop culture references from the last 15 years that he just didn't get.  And, as you'd imagine, I would use him for history from before I was born.

He was an officer in WWII, though he never got to fight overseas.  He was too calm and kind and too good of a pilot, so they sent him to florida to teach other young men how to be pilots.  They couldn't afford to have him shot down.  Fifty years after the fact, when I was somewhere between 10 and 17 years old, I asked him about it.  It was one of the only times I ever saw a look of disappointment on his face.

Presiding over Christmas Morning Joy, 2006
Big Paul was married to the same woman, my grandmother Margaret, for a long time; I don't know how long - somewhere around half a century, until she died in 1999.  Back when it was almost a social stigma, they adopted two babies from the Methodist Children's Home in New Orleans, my daddy being one of them.

He was a credit to his generation, his country and his family. He pushed me in the swing and wrote me long letters at camp, always including money for me to "buy a little something at the camp store or put it in the offering plate." 

On those trips from Oxford, I often had to wait for him, for, despite being in his early 80s, he was going to the local nursing home and picking up 'a van full of old people' to take them to church.  I asked him one time if he realized he was older than some of them.  He said, "I had never thought about it, but I guess that might be the case."
I record that little bit because it'd would make the grinch smile, but also because it epitomizes my granddaddy.  He didn't think much about things; he just did them.

Paul Eason did what was right and good and what was required of him. He never felt the need to talk about it - and looked at you funny when you wanted to discuss. 
Right is just what we do, Ann Lowrey.  Hard work is the only salvation of the earthly human condition.
That's what he said, but only by his actions.  Francis of Assisi said one time, "Preach the gospel always.  When necessary, use words."
Big Paul believes this, lives it, and has no idea who Francis of Assisi is. 

Doing what he's always done best.  One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go! 

His mind has started to suffer, and he is now living with my Daddy (though, he lived alone until a very short few months ago).  But he still opens his arms for hugs from the great grandchildren, whose names he cannot quite remember.  He still sits beside us at supper and asks if we're cold about every 3 minutes.  He still watches the Ole Miss rebels play football, without comment.  He chuckles with Paul Forster or I yell at the television.

Paul Eason is better than you or I, and it pains me that I missed his birthday celebration on Friday.  He was given the keys to the city of Tupelo by the mayor, spoken about on the floor of the United States Congress -->;, and visited with old friends, smiling all the way.  My baby child got to be there to help sing to him.
At the end of the night, after birthday supper was concluded, my daddy asked if he'd had a good birthday.

Big Paul said, "I can't wait until my next one."

Me neither, dear sweet grandfather of mine.

I hope I can serve God and country such that you'll smile that very calm yet very proud smile.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful and touching commentary on an amazing life. I truly think he passed some of those genes on to you! Mrs. Polk