A Man Of His Word

Big Daddy, my mother’s father was undoubtedly the kindest man I’ve ever known. He was a gentle soul with a sparkle in his eyes. He didn’t mind telling anyone what he thought, but he never raised his voice or his hand to anyone.

Big Daddy’s wife, the mother of his children, died and left him alone to raise six children. My mother was two and a half and her younger sister was eighteen months old. I think the oldest may have been twelve. His sister suggested that he turn them over to an orphanage and he replied that it would only happen over his dead body.

He loved his God and his family. He had promised his wife on her death bed that he would never bring a step mother in their home to raise their children. He was a man of his word and did not remarry until his children had grown up. While his mother was alive she helped him with the rearing of his children.

He did remarry after his children grew up and moved away and was very happy. He outlived this wife as well. When he passed he was buried between both wives as he had loved each of them.

Big Daddy loved baseball. He played on a community league. He passed his love of the game to his kids. His son played baseball as well, and all five girls played softball in school. He was a spectator long after his own kids had stopped playing. He regularly watched the pros on television.

Another of his passions was wrestling. He drove to the city to watch matches, and watched them every weekend on television. The only time I ever saw him get angry was when my mother would tease him by saying that she didn’t know why he watched it because it was fake. Now, he was not a man who cursed, but he would say, “Shucks, don’t you be saying that. It is no such thing as it being fake!” He’d wring his hands and pull on his fingers while you watched the fire burn in his face. She’d tell him that they weren’t really hitting each other. He’d shake his head no and turn away so he didn’t have to look at her. Then he’d clear his throat and tell her he didn’t want to hear it because he knew dang well it was real.

He used to tell us tales of how all the senior ladies were chasing him but he was too fast for any of them to catch him. He’d tell us how he’d have four or five of them ask him to dinner each week and he wouldn’t go. His explanation was that they offered to cook him hot dogs and he could cook those himself so he wasn’t going to waste his time on them.

We spent every Christmas at Big Daddy’s house. All of my mother’s sisters and their families would gather there as well. It was a huge event, tons of food, noise, and love. The entire family also got together for Big Daddy’s birthday each year as well. I don’t think he ever stopped smiling during either of these occasions. He always had time for hugs and simple conversation. He’d get the cutest little devilish grin on his face when he teased us.

During his later years, he came to dinner at our house most Sunday evenings. His shirt pocket was always stuffed with sweet n’ low and sugar packets. He’d offer them to my mother telling her that the restaurant where he eats lunch leaves them on the table for you to take all you want. She tried once to gently tell him that they were there to put in your drinks while you were dining there. He wouldn’t hear of that and continued to bring them each week. She’d tell him she didn’t need them, and sometimes he’d leave them on the counter and sometimes he’d take them home. He had quite a collection of them at his own house.

Once when I was on a date with Dirt Man we came behind a pokey and jerky car on the highway. He made a remark about old people needing to stay off the road, and as he pulled over to pass I realized it was Big Daddy.

One time in his later years, his car broke down on a major highway. He got out of the car and started working on it right there in the middle of the road. Everyone in the county knew and loved my grandfather. Someone stopped and tried to help him. He told him he could handle it. The man pleaded to let him push it to the side of the road so that he wouldn’t get creamed by a tractor trailer. Big Daddy calmly replied, “There’s a whole ‘nother lane right there they can use”, and he refused to budge. The gentleman called my aunt who had to leave work and convince him to let someone move the car to the shoulder to work on it.

Big Daddy instilled the importance of family and love to his people. The extended family gatherings at Christmas ended with his death. However, the family continued to get together at other times. Other family member have passed on as well. Time has become precious and distance a factor. The family remains close knit and tries to arrange a reunion every few years.

55 thoughts on “A Man Of His Word

    • He was an absolute sweetie! He would be in awe of the internet but ticked to see his picture there…would be like opening the newspaper and seeing your face!

  1. Great post Suzi. Remember how after he got Alzheimer’s he would drive down to the Post Office and forget and walk home and then hours later call the sheriff’s department and tell them someone stole his car? Or how he once remembered while driving along 29 that he forgot to balance his checkbook and pulled over in the median to do it right then? They had to call JS to go get him… again… Bless his heart. I do so miss him!

  2. I love this! Such a beautiful love letter to your grandfather. My favorite part is about the sugar packets! I think it’s something about living through the Great Depression – my Grandma would always reuse bread bags and patch jeans again and again instead of replace them. Just heartwarming!

  3. Wonderful story about a wonderful man! You were so lucky to have him and he you. I love the stories about your fascinating family. To you they were just “regular” to me they sound magical! Love it!

  4. Did you nickname him ‘Big Daddy” or did your whole family call him this? I love that…I always refer to my husband as big daddy and my dad used to refer to himself as this when my brother and I were little. Everyone should have a “big Daddy” in their life! The importance of a strong male figure in a family (even though it is the women who really make the family groove) is important and special and the influence is long-lasting. I am happy you had Big Daddy in your life!!

    • I was one of the youngest grandchildren, so the name was well in place before I came along. We also called the grandmother on my father’s side Big Mama…maybe it’s a country or Southern thing!

  5. This is a very sweet post. I’m glad u have such love for him. Sort of a random side note, but have u seen “Field of Dreams”? It’s about baseball, but about family, too. Good movie 🙂

  6. Aw. Big Daddy sounds like he was an absolutely wonderful man! I laughed and love the part about wrestling. Grandfathers seem to always think that’s real.

  7. What a lovely story SuziCate! I did one about my Grandpa last year too. I think it’s awesome that they played such a role in our lives. I enjoy seeing my kids interact with their Grandpa’s too.


  8. These posts on your family are beautiful and making me reflect a lot on my own family..most of the older generation is gone…I have one great uncle left, but honestly he is suffering from Dementia (or something) and is impossible to talk to. Our family gathering (on that side of the family) ave unfortunately fallen by the way side and it is so sad.

  9. Isn’t it weird how when one family member dies, traditions go to hell in a hand basket? We visited my Uncle Jim every summer. He died suddenly at the age of 49, when I was a freshman in high school.

    I’ve seen my cousins exactly 4 times in 28 years!

  10. This is so sweet! Makes me want to sit down at the table and just share a good belly laugh with him. 🙂 What a truly gracious man to raise all the children and keep his promise not to remarry.

  11. Such a nice story. I love the sugar packets! That’s great! He was definitely a man set in his ways, but he had an incredible heart. I almost feel as though I know him now. 🙂

  12. Oh man…I know I would have loved hanging out with Big Daddy!

    He sounded like such a feisty gentleman. A lot like me – HA!

    …”He’d offer them to my mother telling her that the restaurant where he eats lunch leaves them on the table for you to take all you want.”….


    That totally cracked me up!

    You have such a wonderful family, SC! It’s so great to read all about them.

    LOVED the old photos!

    • That is one of my funniest thoughts about him…he was so serious and we were just dying inside! He was an absolute sweetheart! Thanks for your kind words! BTW the pic of him with the great big smile was the epitome of his personality!

  13. Very Nice SC,

    Sounds like a man that we need more of in this old world, I know you are proud to be his Granddaughter and I am proud for you to have shared this tribute to him with us.

  14. Hi Suzicate!
    I posted something earlier but it didn’t work. So here I go again. My husband always refers to himself as Big Daddy…I think every family needs one. My dad also referred to himself as Big Daddy when he was younger. He sounds like the kind of man who will be remembered for many generations!

  15. Memories, hold the key to who we are and where we came from. Passing on someone else’s story is the greatest honor and respect on can show. I’m sure he is very proud of you and how far you have come 🙂 good work.

  16. This is such a sweet post. I love the take that people of his generation have onlife, whether it be using the sugar packets or working on the car in the middle of the highway. It’s so charming. I’ll just bet he opened doors for the ladies and was a pretty good dancer, too. Am I right? Someday after I die, I think I may just have to look him up in heaven. And cook him a steak. 😉

  17. I busted out laughing at him fixing his car right there in the road. My grampie did the same thing! Grammie was in a panic sitting in the car and watching the traffic wizzing by.

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