The good news regarding my grandfather was short lived. Early this morning, he passed away. At 89, he lived a long full life. Now he's home with grannie (who had passed some 5 years ago). Being so far away in Texas, I don't have as many memories of my papa as I had of my grandma Miller who recently passed on. But here are some of the memories I do have.
When my sister and I were little, my parents would take us to Texas each year to visit my grandparents. We usually drove (a 3 day drive) and stayed for at least a week (often longer). Grannie & papa lived on a ranch. He raised cattle. He always wore bib-overalls. He would sometimes take my sister and I (and any of the cousins who were there at the time too) out to feed the cattle. I remember the hay barns stacked high with bales of hay. Climbing half way up before realizing the rafters were filled with spiders the size of my hand (I'm not shitting you, Texas has some knarely spiders). To this day I am PETRIFIED of ANY spider thanks to those mutant, humungo Texas spiders. I remember once there was a tarantula, big and black and hairy, in the yard where us kids were playing. We all ran in screaming our heads off. Papa casually strolled out, stomped it, and (this still gives me chills) picked it up and threw it in the neighboring corn field. It was at least 5 or 6 inches across. The man should have a medal of bravery for facing down that monster. Apart from the spiders, the ranch was the coolest place to spend time when I was a kid. We got to ride in the tractors, swim in a creek that ran right through the property. Papa would give us big tractor tire innertubes to float around on. I just remembered a time there was a scorpion in the kitchen. It's amazing how something so small can elicit so much fear. He rescued us from that monster too. He used to let us ride in the back of the pick-up truck, down an old dirt road we kids affectionately dubbed "roller-coaster alley" that led to a hay field. Now we all know how dangerous riding in the back of open pickup trucks is, but back then, it was a blast to have your teeth rattled loose down that bumpy road. He never let us leave without spending money for the Stuckey's on the trip home. (You all know about Stuckey's right? Home of the Pecan Log, Mexican Jumping beans, some of the worlds best milkshakes and every imaginable souvenir? If you've never been to one, stop in one when you have the chance.) He was kind and gentle. I can't really remember him ever being angry (although I'm sure he was). He was always interested in what you had to tell him. I only wish we had lived closer so I could have known him better.