George Willis Dean was my grandfather, my Papa, my mother's father. I could probably publish an entire blog around only him. There are many, many stories. He was a huge presence to me, a big man who took up the whole room. Funny how our feelings and perspectives shape what we actually see, I thought until I was about thirty that he was physically large. It wasn't until a friend referred to Papa as a "cute little man" that I saw that he was actually rather small. I remember that as one of the first times I realized how much what we 'feel' shapes what we 'see.'
Papa was incredibly intelligent, intensely loyal and wisely witty, though sometimes I'm not sure he meant to be. I can remember whole conversations with him, conversations from when I was nine or ten and conversations from when I was a teenager and young adult. I can remember his advice, I can actually hear him going on and on about his fear that all he believed in was free falling straight to the dogs - just about everything.
He fervently worked to preserve history, his past and others, he recited poetry that he had first memorized in his boyhood, he lamented that schools no longer taught penmanship, and I live in thanksgiving that he didn't live to see the world's relationships with social networks. There would not have been enough thirty minute talks after Wheel of Fortune in his den in Douglas, Georgia to even begin to try to explain all of that! He wouldn't understand. He'd be sad. I would agree with much of his anger and be a little unsettled about some of it. That's how I was with so many things about Papa.
I think about him often, hear his voice, imagine what he'd say about my kids. Lots of times when he comes to mind, I remember laughing. He told great stories and we laughed a lot. He could make us all feel like we were actually growing up in 1920 in Uvalda, Georgia! He told stories about school, about his siblings and crazy tales of adventures from a time when things were a little different. I loved those stories.
As I'm sure you understand at this point, Papa wasn't one who would be described as open-minded. He knew what he knew, he thought what he thought, and he was solid in that. He saw no need to change any of that and felt like the world and all of us in it were doing what we could to destroy what he loved best. He shuttered about things that didn't bother me, he argued about politics with my mother, and he grunted through most of the CBS Nightly News.
I laughed this morning, thinking about a time that my uncle really got him - a time Papa's wisdom didn't win out over his feelings about the world going to 'you know where' in a handbasket! This is a good one, and I wish I had thought of it!
My uncle, Papa's son, got up from the dining room table where we used to eat every meal, and walked over to look out the window. He worked up his most disgusted voice, glanced off to the side of the yard, sighed and said, "Goodness, look at those bipedals walking down the road."
"Pathetic" Papa replied, "What is this world coming to? Ayyyy me, me." (Ayyyyy me, me was one of Papa's favorite phrases and he explained years ago that it meant that things just weren't good.)
Ha! The laughs were grand and loud when my uncle explained that "bipedals" were beings who walked upright on two hind legs. I can see his face now!
View a few precious bipedals and have a great day.