Tuesday, March 30, 2010

85 Years Wise

This is my Papa.

He was born in a small Texas town. He was the baby of the family. My grandmother swears that he was spoiled rotten. He simply grins.

He is part of The Greatest Generation. He celebrated his 18th birthday three days before landing on the shores of Okinawa.

He fought bravely. He lost many friends. He saw things that he has yet to speak of. To anyone.

He served time in Germany as part of the military police. It was while on leave that he met my Mema.

They wrote letters. They exchanged photos with sweet words written on the back.

This picture would have pushed me over the edge.

He returned to Mema and they married. They didn't have a lot of money. She raised chickens so that they would have something to eat.

They ate so many that he refuses to eat chicken to this very day.

My Pops was born a year later.

Papa was working construction, building houses. He smashed his finger with a hammer. There was no workman's comp in those days. He taped it up and continued working. That finger is forever bent...bent from holding so many nails.

I love the un-PC nature of this picture...I think it's my favorite.

He continued building houses. By the time I arrived (yes, that little chub is me) he had established his own construction company.

He could draw up a house plan on the back of a cardboard box. People knew if you bought a house built by Randall Hallmark, it would be around for a long time.

They were right. Half of my hometown is still living in one of his creations.

I spent many weekends and summers with Mema and Papa.

I remember laughing. A lot.

I rode horses. I swam in the lake. I helped in the garden. I went hunting. I fed cows.

I experienced story-book moments. Memories that I pray never to lose.

He and Mema still live in that same small town. He still has a garden that he tends to every day.

He grows grapes and tomatoes. He drives his tractor. He takes his dog, Jaws, everywhere. He eats peanut butter and crackers. He only wears boots.

He sits on his porch every morning and evening, rocking in his old rocker. He sneaks Brach's
candies. He still kisses Mema when leaving the house, even after 62 years of marriage.

He's lost some of that wavy hair. It has turned a gleaming silver. When he combs it, it looks like angel wings.

He still has a mischievous smile. His blue eyes still twinkle.

This is my Papa. He turned 85 yesterday.

He is the wisest man I'll ever know.

I love you.