As you may recall, Big Butter and I flew out in December to visit him before I couldn't travel anymore. I had this strange desire at the time to go see him...and it turns out it was a good thing. I am so glad that we made that trip. I am so glad I was able to capture these moments with him. Stand in the kitchen watching him mix up a batch of cornbread. Sitting at the table we had sat at every year since I can remember. Kissing the top of his bald head as he rested in his chair.
I knew that he wasn't feeling well. He hasn't felt well for years. He had cancer in his spine and since they removed it, about 7 years ago, he's been in pain. He's had numerous surgeries to try to help with the pain and nothing has really worked. So despite the fact that tears were rolling down my cheeks as I pulled Jack in closely after hearing the news, I think this was better for Grandpa Gumbo. I selfishly wish he had been able to meet Jack and hold him and I selfishly hate that we won't be making another trip to Lousiana with him in November. But in my heart I know this is better for Grandpa Gumbo. He is no longer in pain and I am just so lucky to have known this man.
It is amazing to learn about where you come from. This man was an orphan who taught himself how to read; he only completed the 6th grade. He supported his wife through her bachelors and masters degrees; meanwhile he was content being a grounds keeper and driving a school bus. He made a mean BBQ sauce and everyone begged him for the recipe. He was proud of all of us and he wasn't afraid to say it. I am so honored to be his grand-daughter and I can't wait to tell Jack all about him.