I’ve written lots about my own mother on these pages. The first column I ever published chronicled her journey off this mortal plane. She died the day after Mother’s Day 2006, and I sat with her until she was gone. I wrote as she died. That just might have been the hardest writing I’ve ever done.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s backtrack a few years.
My life changed dramatically on that March night in 1980, when Meredith Leigh Miller was born. She remains the joy of my life. Forever, my mother was devoted to Meredith. Today she would be so proud of her granddaughter. So am I. I salute my daughter Meredith on this, her first Mother’s Day. She is a wonderful mother and a joy to be around.
Mother would also be nuts about her great-grandson. Life changed once again on a hot day in June last summer. Owen Keaton Harper came into this world, not kicking and screaming, but with a sweet smile on his face that just slays me. This being a granddaddy might just be the greatest job I’ve ever had. I just melt in his presence. He sorta likes me, too.
He calls me PopStick. Well, he actually doesn’t call me anything, but I think that is what it will be some day soon. It is a great combination between” Pop” or” Poppa” and “Stick,” my great southern name that, in Latin, means “superior in all ways.” So PopStick it is, unless Owen comes up with something better.
While he changes every day, we are in Americus and he is in Atlanta. I regret that separation and I don’t want to miss anything, but I think back to my own situation: My grandparents all lived in Macon. Most of my life we were a couple of hours away from them, in Griffin or in Avondale Estates. I never regretted that distance, that space between us. I always felt like it made me appreciate them more than if I lived right there under their wing. I was really close to my grandparents. It was always a treat to see them and because of the distance, they were incapable of interfering with my parents’ absolute right to raise us as they saw fit.
I’ve tried Atlanta, and other than the years I spent in Avondale Estates, I really didn’t like it much. I’m good to stay right here until they carry me outta here “Tango Uniform.” I hope that will be many years off because for many years I’m planning on being a grandpa nonpareil. (For you Auburn graduates that means “without parallel”). I think I’ve been a good daddy and I want to be a good “PopStick.”
We try to see Owen monthly, hoping that he’ll know us and that we will be able to watch him grow. I want to build some memories with this dear little boy and with all of my grandchildren. I want to take them on trips in the motorhome and buy candy and French fries and ice cream and spoil them rotten. I want to take them to the beach and to have them want to visit us in Americus. I’ll build a pool if it takes that, and maybe buy a pony and a cart, or a goat.
I am sure I will love them all just as much as I love Owen ... I just loved Owen first. He taught me what grandparent love really is. Some day, when my time on earth is done, I want to be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather. But I’m in no hurry to leave. I have lots more spoiling to do.
My grandfather Mathews once told me that he wouldn’t trade me for a Packard Clipper. Knowing and adoring him as I did, I took that as high praise … and I know exactly what he meant.
I wouldn’t trade a moment my children and my grandson for anything on this earth.
Not even a Packard Clipper.
Boyce “Stick” Miller, an award-winning columnist, lives in Americus. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org