Sleeping has been something that has alluded me over the last week. My normal waking hour has been around 2:15-3:00 AM, after going to bed between 10:30-11:00 PM. Most will think to themselves how they could never live off so little sleep, but alas you are not the one with small doses of unconsciousness. That bit of realism has been left for me. Yet, thinking about how little my body has actually rested does not affect me in that same cerebral way. It has been since I was a little boy that my grandmother, Maw Maw, and I have woken up early and talked for hours on end about life and the type of person my grandfather, Paw Paw, had been. She always mentioned that her and I both were born with thin eyelids and at the slightest break of dawn we arose. This meaning that every morning at my grandmother’s house I would arise and she would make breakfast and we would talk for hours before everyone else in the house would wake to join us to break the fast from the night before. These mornings are something that shaped me into the man I am today.
Maw Maw would tell me the same stories over and over again in the course of my life, but not once did I interrupt her or try to finish her story for her. It was not because I understood that maybe she needed that to maybe come to terms with loss of her husband or wanting to pass on the knowledge of the man that had such a big part of bringing me into this world. I truly loved listening to this great woman speak and impart to me the knowledge she had accumulated throughout her life. My Maw Maw worked as a nurse at the Health Department in Hattisburg, MS, her entire life. She brought joy and a kind heart to everyone she met. Along those lines she never met a stranger, a trait that I now possess and one that my oldest son Josiah has now inherited. She never saw people as their race or how much money they had, she always saw a person-plain and simple. We would go to the grocery store and she would talk to almost everyone she would see. One of my favorite stories that she told me of my grandfather was one where they had gone to the mall. In this trip my grandfather had told Dolly, that is what he called my grandmother, that they were to meet at this certain spot at this certain time. They went their separate ways meandering through the mall. My grandfather returned to the spot at the exact moment he was supposed to arrive while my grandmother was about 100 feet away from the specific location talking to someone. My grandfather stood in his spot waiting on my grandmother to arrive. When she was done she walked over to him and as she approached he was tapping his watch. He looked at her and said, “We were supposed to meet here at 3:00, why were you not here?” My grandmother’s response was, “I was right over there talking to a friend. You could have come over and gotten me.” My grandfather said in his very stern tone, “We were supposed to meet here at 3:00.” This story sums up the two different personalities of Maw Maw and Paw Paw.
The thing that amazes me everyday when I am fortunate enough to awake for a new sunrise is that I am made up of a mixture of both of these amazing human beings. Through the long talks with my Maw Maw I learned about her and being 8 years old when my grandfather died, I learned about what type of man my grandfather was through her eyes. Everyday of my life has been with those stories running through my head as to what a man should grow up to be. We leave many things behind in our lives. Not all things are inspiring, some actually cause scars. It is our responsibility to take those experiences and hopefully give new experiences to the ones we interact with in this journey. There is no rulebook or guidelines in which you must follow. In my humble experience, you can choose whatever path you like. There will always be difficulties and joys along the way. The things that you leave should be something that you are proud of and not those things of regret or I should have done this. We are the mixture of those that have traveled down a path before us and I for one hopefully will leave some good with a dose of “well that was how he was”, all the while not regretting one moment of the cycle we call existence.