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NaBloPoMo2011– Remembering My Grandfather

November 29, 2011

We lost my grandpa Ellis over the weekend. He was such a lovely and incredible man. He was such a strong and constant presence in my life that I named my little girl after him. Her middle name is Ellyse –part Ellis and part Phyllis, my sweet grandmother and his beloved wife that passed away in my twenties.  My children will never have the opportunity to know my grandparents, which is sad because they are such a part of me and who I am.

My grandpa was a tall and thin man, he could eat like a line backer and remain whippet thin. He had coppery red hair in his youth and those who loved him referred affectionately to him as “Red”. His eyes were a twinkling blue that remind me so much of my daughter’s. He was an incredibly hard worker and always took care of his family. His home was always open to family and friends in need–often the gathering place for children and teens. Everyone felt welcome when my grandpa was around.

He had a fantastic sense of humor and loved to talk and tell stories. When I was little, my favorite times were when I would spend the night at my grandparent’s home and grandpa would tell me bed time stories that he made up. The stories were always created with me as the starring character and I loved hearing of all of the adventures he came up with.

In fact, Grandpa could always be counted on for an adventure. The woods behind his house became an imaginary world when we would go on long walks together. He taught me about different trees and plants and taught me how to fire a shotgun. We grew tomatoes in the summers and ate our weight in watermelon. He loved root beer and sweets and made me my first cup of “coffee milk” just like his mother had given to him as a child growing up in southern Louisiana.

My grandpa had a beautifully rich bass singing voice and loved to sing in his church choir. We have a few recordings of his songs that I know I will always treasure. Like me, he had a flair for writing and put a few words down with his trusty type writer. Like me, he had terrible handwriting 🙂

He treasured his time in the service and the years that he spent in the Pacific. I rarely heard my grandfather speak of the war–but will always remember his love of the Buddhist temples he visited and the beautiful memories he had of the jungles and ocean. He rented a bicycle wherever his ship made port and often paid local kids to show him the sights. It must have been incredible for such a small town Louisiana boy.  My grandpa even took in a tiny spider monkey which got him into a load of trouble back on his ship! He would chuckle and tell me how the mischievous  little black monkey would eat his cigarettes and grab pencils off of his desk and sharpen them “down to a nub”.

When I was born premature and blessed with an unruly thatch of black hair, my grandfather promptly declared that I looked “just like that old spider monkey”. It was a nickname that would persist my entire life…and only my grandpa could call a little girl “spider monkey” and make it so affectionate.

Hmmm…come to think of it…my hair still looks a bit like this…
I love you Grandpa.
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura Hodges permalink
    November 30, 2011 3:33 am

    There really … is … just something special about grandfathers. I am so very sorry for your loss, Jenn. When I was teaching you at Lufkin High School during one of the two springs was when my last living grandfather passed away. I had just been to Mobile over spring break to visit him and my grandmother, and then had to go back in April for his funeral. I was so thankful that I had just been there visiting. I planted the large planter boxes off the screened in back porch with flowers, and he sat on the back porch and talked with me while I planted. He used to do that, and was unable to do that anymore, although he did tell me which flowers to buy that were my grandmother’s favorites. He was a special man — much like your grandfather sounds like he was — we were both so very lucky! I like to think that I have my grandfather as a special angel watching over and guiding me — which is really special. I always hold him and my other grandparents close to my heart, as they are all a strong part of who I am, too!
    Thanks for sharing his story — and again, so very sorry for your loss….
    Laura

    • November 30, 2011 9:14 pm

      Thank you Laura. We are so very fortunate to have such wonderful memories!

  2. November 30, 2011 6:41 pm

    Jen, I am so sorry for your loss. What an unbelievably sweet post. He sounds like he was quite an incredible grandfather, who will be missed dearly.

  3. November 30, 2011 9:14 pm

    Thanks Amanda!

  4. December 1, 2011 1:30 am

    What a beautiful tribute to grandpa. Thank you for posting. I love you. You do have a way with words just like he did… 🙂

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