Remembering a great man

Seventeen years ago today, we lost a wonderful Southern gentleman who was known to me as “Pepa,” a word I made up as a toddler trying to say “Grandpa.” After my parents divorced when I was seven, we lived with my mother’s parents until my junior year in high school. I owe Pepa a great deal for teaching me everything from the importance of an education, to having good posture and decent manners, to having an open mind about others’ beliefs and backgrounds (a sentiment not always found in the Deep South in the 1970s).

I miss him terribly and would love to spend an afternoon with him, asking questions about his early life, World War II, sites he saw when touring Europe. It’s hard to believe he has been gone from my life for almost two decades.


I’ll share one quick memory that I have of him. One night, I asked for special permission to stay up and watch the Grammy’s. I especially wanted to see the highlight of the show, a band that I’m now embarrassed to admit I liked as a pre-teen. (But won’t put here so that I don’t insult anyone…particularly the band.) The artists finally came on and he watched patiently without saying a word as they performed their hit . When the performance was over, I turned to him and said, “So…what did you think?”

He shrugged and gently said, “It was all just gimmicks, gal. All those neon drumsticks and silly dancing. Real musicians wouldn’t need all those props.”

Here’s to you, Pepa.


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