Dear Granddaddy, It's Me Harris
I have a memory that strikes me at least a couple of times a year and it is strong and vivid.
It always catches me off guard but as soon as it hits me, it’s crystal clear.
Today it hit me when I was eating collard greens and their earthy smell took me right back to the garden with you. It was like I closed my eyes for a second and you and I were walking through the rows at Buzz Manning’s. I remember the exact smells and looks of everything. It’s the same memory that pops up when I eat squash or smell dirt, and always when I eat collard greens.
When I think of those memories I wish I had cared more and listened more. I really wish I had learned more. Gardening…what a beautiful hobby and skill. It’s definitely not one these city folks have. I wish I had learned enough to pass the practice on to my kids.
I don’t tell you enough or hardly at all but those memories are so special to me. They are deeply imbedded in me and are a part of who I am. They are so important. They are memories of the south, of gardening, farming, family, and really hard work. These are the things that I take with me and can pass on to my kids. But most importantly they are memories of you.
I love you Granddaddy and I am grateful for who you are and what you taught us about life, work, and family, but most of all about God.
PS I’ll never forget your wise words, “If you want to fly with the eagles in the morning, you can’t hoot with the owls at night.”
What a deeply appreciated email with thoughts that jogged my memories of special times at our home during your growing up years. Grandmama doesn't cook those huge family meals that she once did but boy their aroma will never be forgotten. Her cornbread was so good that it would roll your socks up and down!
We keep photos of all our grandchildren on a table in the den close to my reading chair. Every day I see it and a little guy in in his PJs with a new basketball in his hand. I guess you would have been around five or six years old in the picture. And did you ever use that ball…I think we went to every game you played, and I would not trade anything for those memories.
Same for little league baseball. You don't remember this tale but I tell it often when guys brag on their kids. You played third base against a team that was coached by the same guy who coached you the previous year. So there you were looking directly at him in the dugout when a grounder came your way. You were on it immediately and threw the batter out before he could get to first. You know that throw from third to first base is the longest throw in the infield. Then the next batter came up and hit a screamer of a ground ball your way and you scooped it up and fired it to first for the second out.
Then your old coach called time out from his dugout and walked out to third base and picked you up by your armpits with your legs dangling. We all had a laugh before he put you down and headed back toward the dugout! Yes sir you had quite a baseball career and I don't think I missed a single game on that old Cahaba Heights baseball field. Too bad the Cubs didn't know you back then cause you would have been in Chicago playing third base! I was so proud of you and as a matter of fact I still am.
Memories of your Briarwood High School are too numerous to count, but one thing I do remember was reading your essays. They covered a variety of issues, and I told Grandmama right then that you were a very good writer. You still are, too!
I have so many wonderful memories. On the steps going down to the basement we kept all the artwork of our grandkids. Yours was at the top with so much attention to detail in your drawings, I particularly remember one you might have long since forgotten. It was a picture of a sailing ship with all the colors coordinated perfectly.
I could go on and on with memories such as these. Harris, I am so proud of you and always will be.
I love you.
Tom Harris is a retired banker who lives in Birmingham with his wife Jane. They’ve been married 57 years, have two daughters, eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren and another on the way. Tom is a Master Gardener and a proud Georgia Bulldog.