My grandpa, George Oakman, died Sunday night from a swift and intense struggle with cancer. He had been blessed to live in mostly good health for two years beyond an inoperable aneurism when it had been predicted that he would not make it through the night.
I have a few special memories of Grandpa. My favorite is from the year that I was a big Duke fan. Notice I said "year," as I am sporadic with my sports fanaticism. Grandpa went out in the beginning of an unusual April snow storm to get a Duke jacket for me for my birthday. Why? Because I connected with him when I talked basketball. It gave us a common ground.
Ole Miss. Sardines and mustard. The newspaper. Barney Miller. Underwear bands recycled as sweatbands, great for mowing the lawn. I have actually seen him water ski AND dance the jitterbug. Not too shabby for a grandpa! We will miss him.
But I had to share a funny story. Hopefully this won't be taken as irreverent, because I am sure that Grandpa would have laughed.
My niece and nephew came up to the front, near the casket. My niece, who is nine, looked in and loudly announced, "Look! He's wearing a suit!"
Nephew, age seven, was hesitant. He wanted to see but wasn't so sure about getting close. So he just stood where he was and got on his tiptoes. Then he backed up and looked at me with a smile on his face. In his best southern drawl he asked me, "Did he die lookin' like that?" I wasn't sure what he meant, so I said, "Like what?" Nephew answered, "Did he die in that suit?" I tried to keep a straight face and told him no, that they had dressed him up so that he would look nice. He said, "Nice, like all these people here are lookin' nice?"
"Yes, boy, like these people are lookin' nice...and like YOU are lookin' nice."