More Than a Memory...

March 21, 2011
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Is there someone who has touched your life that you could never forget, no matter where they are? Well that someone for me is my Great Grandfather, Hubert Garvin Atwell. Not only has he touched my life he has inspired me to be a better person. The memories we had together are unforgettable, but now that he’s gone and memories cannot be made, I must remember and cherish the time I spent with a wonderful gentleman, that I call my papaw.

It was November 2, 2008 when I stood up in a room full of people and spoke these exact words, “Just like others I will never forget what a wonderful person he was. I will truly be lost without him, but I know he has gone to a much better place. Once again I will have to share him with others, but I know he will be a wonderful “Papaw” in heaven.” Never had I felt like I’d lost everything, but on this day when I said my final goodbyes, I did.

Never did I only consider him my papaw, I considered him my best friend. We never had that typical grandfather/ granddaughter relationship; it was always something more. I remember the many hours we would spend listening to each other’s stories, watching the Andy Griffith show, naming cats, telling tongue twisters and so much more. We did the craziest things together, like catching wild kittens with fishing nets. Out of all these memories we shared, the one that I absolutely can’t forget is the days we spent many hours picking blackberries. Not only do I remember the many scratches I received or the long sleeve shirt s on the hot summer day, I also recall the smile it brought to his face to be doing something he enjoyed. But I don’t only remember picking them and putting them in milk jugs, I remember bringing them home and making a blackberry cobbler. I’d never like blackberry cobbler but I ate it anyways so that his feelings wouldn’t get hurt.

My papaw was a man of good heart. A few months before he passed, I remember him receiving a letter in the mail. The letter had thanked him for all he had done for them in the past. It also mentioned how their family wouldn’t have had food if it wasn’t for the charge account he had given them. They finally said they would never forget what he’d done for them. He wasn’t only like this to certain people he was to me too. When my papaw first started his knife and coin collection, he gave me a Princess Diana knife and the first coins he’d collected. I knew both of them were special to him so I must treasure them forever.

In 1937, my papaw bought a store built by Pete Bale. I have many memories in that ole’ country store. The baby ski’s, eating big, thick, bologna on crackers, sitting around the pot belly stove listening to the old men tell stories, sitting on the porch with grandma, grandpa, and Hubert Perry, learning to widdle and my favorite would be sitting on the old milk can with a tractor seat on top.

As years went on this store became even more famous. Articles were written and it even appeared on wbko. The store even had a song written about it by a man named Mark Melloan. I even remember the concert at Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, Kentucky. He never said much about the publicity the store got, but I knew how proud he was.

The many summers I spent with him, we would watch hours of Andy Griffin, sit in the car under the shady oak tree counting cars, sitting on the back porch while he smoked his cigar, naming cats, challenging each other to rhyming riddles, and my favorite telling old stories.

I’d never imagined that I’d miss theses times so much, but I do. I miss naming the cats. Hilary and Gracie were my papaws and my favorite. I even think about the time he asked me to catch this wild kitten, and he sat on the porch while my brother and I hid with a fishing net. Well we caught it, but I squeezed it a little too hard and killed it. I remember the rhyme “the skunk sat on the stump. The stump thought the skunk stunk and the skunk thought the stump stunk”. I only remember this because I still can’t say it today!! The main thing I learned from these summers were to listen to these old stories people tell you, because one day they wont be here to tell you.

The day I found out papaw was in the hospital, my world started to change. I was at a basketball game that I asked mom if papaw was going to get any better. I knew before I asked what the answer would be. Even though I knew it was no, I still believed in miracles. On the morning I woke up to find neither my mother nor father home, I knew something was up, but I went back to bed, with the hopes that it was nothing. When I woke up and got dressed for school and mom called and said not to wake my brother because we weren’t going to school that day. That’s when I started to ask “Why? Why did he have to go today and not later?”. I wasn’t ready to let go of someone I cared so much about. On the day of the funeral it made sense to me why he had to leave this world for another. He was going to a world where his wonderful wife and son were. He had died a day before his wife’s birthday. He left on October 30, 2008, so he could make her birthday extra special!

Still to this day he holds a special place in my heart, and he will never be replaced. His spirit lives on even though his heart is no longer beating. I only wish he could see all my success today, but even though he’s not here with me, I know he’s watching with a proud smile on his face.

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