Friday, November 19, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, November 15, 2004

Goodbye Mario

I really never spoke much on here about my grandfather. Although, the same could be said of all of my family. I know I never really talk about my family much on here. Generally, I am bitching or swooning over someone or something. This entry is devoted to my grandfather, Robert Matthew Lyle, better known to my siblings and me as Pawpaw. Unfortunately, it took his death for me to decide to write about one of the greatest men I have had the pleasure of knowing.

I have actually mentioned my grandfather once in passing on here (Monday, Febuary 2, 2004, Cleaning Pipes). He was a great man.

When I was maybe five years old, my family went to visit my aunt. She had a water cooler in her house. I always thought that was the coolest thing ever. That and her black leather sofa. Anyway, my older brother told me that on the cooler, the blue button would give me cold water and the red button would give me warm water. I translated this to red is always hot and blue is always cold.

My grandfather was welding something shortly after this trip to my aunt's house. I do not know now what he was working on anymore than I did then. I was outside with him. He put down the blowtorch for a minute and told me not to mess with it. I was a curious kid then as I am now, so I began to stare at the blue flame. Blue flame. BLUE flame? I knew that fire is hot. I also knew that blue is always cold. So if a flame is blue, is it just really cold fire? Do they make cold fire? Can they do that? I couldn't think from all the thinking so I said, "There's only one way to find out," a sentence I have often uttered aloud just before doing something incredibly stupid. I marched up to the blue flame, looked down at it, and shoved my right palm right into the inferno. For those of you who were unaware, blue fire is extremely hot. I also realized that there were probably many other ways to find out. Oh well. Anyway, that is, I believe, my earliest memory related to my grandfather.

Pawpaw was a man who loved to make people laugh. He would do anything he could to get a laugh out of someone. Many people didn't know how to take him. At his funeral last Wednesday, my old youth pastor told a story about his wife's run in with Pawpaw. He said that the church was having a catfish fry shortly after they started at the church(For those of you who are unfamiliar with the "catfish fry," it is exactly what the name implies. They sit around and fry catfish.), and the whole community was there, of course. Rev. Brother Pastor Father Youth said that he was inside the church making tea or potato salad, I forget, when his wife came into the church kitchen crying. He said she had huge tears streaming down her face. Of course, he wanted to know what was wrong with her. She told her husband that she had just met the most horribly mean man in the world. He was a little more upset and asked her again what had happened. She said that a man that she'd never seen before walked up to her baby's stroller, looked down at her baby, and simply said, "Why that is simply the ugliest baby I have ever seen in my life," then turned and walked away. That's my grand dad. The youth pastor knew my grandfather and knew that he was just being, well, Pawpaw, but the wife took his comment completely the wrong way. I think she overreacted a bit either way.

When I was growing up, we lived in the same house as my grandparents. My grandmother passed away when I was six, so I don't remember her as well. I still remember a few things about her. Obviously, I would remember my grandfather much better as he was around alot longer. Growing up, I remember Pawpaw always had a Butterfinger waiting on us when we would get home from school. Never failed. I am not sure if that was just his favorite candybar and, by default, must also be ours due to genetics. Not sure really. But he always had one for each of us. He loved us very much, 'us' being my brother, sisters, and me, and he went out of his way to make sure we had anythig we needed or wanted. He really was a great guy. I am not saying that because he gave us stuff. You would have had to have known him I guess. The closest comparison that I can make to him for people is the dad in Big Fish. He didn't make up elaborate stories, well he did but he didn't believe them, but the dad in that movie reminded me a little of Pawpaw.

He used to stay up with me and watch what he always called Beavis and Butthole or Beavis and Asshole. He had their laughs down perfect. He watched South Park with me and was always trying to sing the song about Kyle's mom being a bitch. He is the one who told me to want in one hand and shit in the other and see which gets filled the fastest. Crude, I will admit that, but it was very straight forward about the point he was making.

He used to take me to his catfish pond across the street in our field and let me feed the fish with him. As soon as we would get out there, the water would start boiling with activity from all the fish waiting to be fed. He sat out there often.

He used to get so frustrated with stuff like the universal remote and you could hear him slip into a Yosemite Sam Tourette's syndrome moment, only picking up on the odd "Son of a bitch!" now and again.

He was ALWAYS saying, "What's your name? Puddin Tane. Ask me again and I'll tell you the same." I cannot even tell you how many times I have heard him say that.

When I was younger, he'd play air ukulele. He also had this baseball cap that had a blond polyester ponytail sticking out of it. I made it in highschool for a drama class project. I was supposed to be a member of Hanson. He would wear it to "the boat", casino, and find the largest breasted cocktail waitress to hit on all night. He was a dirty old man, but he was harmless.

He came home one night from "the boat" and was obviously intoxicated. I was the only one awake. He looked at me and said, "Preston, I'm not drunk. I'm not stoned either. No, I'm not stoned. I'm not drunk either." He kept repeating that over and over again. I just kept telling him, "I know you're not, Pawpaw. Go to bed and get some sleep." It took me a little while to get him to bed.

The last time I saw him, my sister was still pregnant with Zouiey. She, my mother, and I went to see him in the nursing home. He looked at me and said, "Preston, is that you? You're looking good, baby. You're looking really handsome." He had this look on his face like he was proud of me. He then turned to my sister and said, "You got fat." "Pawpaw, I'm pregnant," my sister laughed. "That's no excuse," he retorted. He was always on his toes.

I love my Pawpaw a whole lot. He helped rear me. He helped turn me into the man that sits here today. I will love, miss, and remember him always.

I love you Pawpaw. Rest in peace.