What will they say?

By Joe Rector

I just arrived in Hendersonville, TN, to return my grandson Madden to his home. He’s graced us with his presence for the last three days. During that time, we made whirlwind trips to places where the boy could enjoy himself. Madden is a wonderful boy who was stricken with the same problem that my brother Jim and I experienced. In my mother’s words, “[he] talked incessantly.”

Madden spent the prior week with his other grandparents. Now that he’s home, the opportunity to tell Mom and Dad about us exists. I’m curious about what he will say. I’ve talked about my mother since she passed, and I sometimes wonder what my own children will say about me when I’m gone.

One thing for sure is over the years I’ve uttered plenty of things that have stuck in their minds. When they’ve misbehaved, the words “Don’t make me spank you” has been yelled through the house. How ridiculous is it to think that my children would purposely do something to bring about swats to their back sides. Sometimes, I threatened to “wear them out.” Yeah, right! Spanking Dallas or Lacey always left me upset for a long time. It was more like punishment for me.

I wonder how I’ll be remembered as a dad. My intent was to always do the things that would help my children grow up to be good people who knew how to treat others, who obtained a good education, and who built productive lives. Maybe they might comment on my insistence that they played sports on teams and refused to allow them to quit until seasons were over. Of course, during those years, I made plenty of mistakes; perhaps they won’t remember too many of them.

How many of the “lectures” that I subjected them to will be remembered? I’ve delivered hundreds of them over the years. Not using drugs or driving drunk was one such topic. Another was showing respect to their parents, even when they didn’t agree with us. I know that the threat to remove slammed doors from bedrooms is burned into their memory banks. Of course, the one I delivered about the demise of the Egyptian civilization due, in part, to excessive concern with looks and self-adornment will remain long after I’ve gone to my reward, whatever that might be. What others might be recalled is anybody’s guess.

What I hope most of all is that my “young’uns” will recall just how much I loved them. They have been the center of my world, along with Amy. Over the years, they’ve given me so many times to be proud of them, and the hugs and kisses that they gave as little ones and, though less often, as adults, have made my life a good one. I’ve watched them learn to love others and allow them to become parts of their lives, and with luck, they will always find the same kind of love that I’ve experienced with Amy. Lord knows she’s put up with my goofy, too often hateful ways for more than 40 years.

I certainly hope that Madden will have kind things to say about me. He said today that I was like his mom, who also sometimes becomes miffed with his behaviors. If I’m lucky, he’ll remember that I told him I was proud of him. I hope he can say that his grandfather loved him completely and tried to make our time together fun. I further hope he will say that I passed along a couple of good pieces of advice.

I’m not sure the good lord allows us to look down on the ones we leave behind. If that is the case, I only hope that what my family says about me will be mostly good, along with some of my many shortcomings. One things for sure: I won’t be remembered as having been saintly.

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