Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Pa Jim...

Well, it is March! Spring is in the air, and my what would have been my Pa Jim's 86th birthday is March 12th. We lost my Pa Jim on May 20, 2008, and not a day goes by that I don't think about him or miss him. Some days so much, I physically hurt.

I was the "baby." The youngest grandchild, and youngest girl, so I was just a TAD spoiled by my Nana and Pa. I have so many memories of them as a child- they used to keep me in the summers or when I was sick. As his March birthday approaches, and I think about how much he loved me, how much he loved Cole, and how much he would have loved Ava, I thought it would be appropriate, if for no other reason than for Ava and our other future children to read, to share some of my fondest memories of Pa.

* Pa Jim was a proud Marine. He joined just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was just 16 at the time, but lied and said he was 18. He never talked about the war. He saw and did things I am sure he didn't want any of us to have to know. He was a Marine Sharpshooter (a metal that now resides in the case with the flag that adorned his coffin), a Purple Heart recipient, and one of the bravest and most stubborn men I have ever met! :)

*Being the proud veteran that he was, he served in the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) for many years. He worked closely with both George Bush (Sr.) and then Gov. Bill Clinton, and had photos of himself with each of them hanging in his home. Although he did take the Clinton picture down for a time because he got mad at some legislation regarding veterans that Clinton supported! :)

* I used to go to the "air base" (LRAFB) with Nana and Pa as a kid, and I LOVED it because I knew I would get at least one barbie. Usually two or three, some barbie clothes, AND clothes for me. And I would always get a bag of powdered doughnuts for the drive home. And if I was REALLY lucky, Burger King! HA!

* On those faithful trips to the air base, Pa Jim used to always get a haircut, always pick Nana out something "pretty for herself", and would always chat with the other veterans.

* One trip to the air base was especially memorable, because as we were leaving, we saw several young airmen taking the gate flag down for the day. As a proud Marine, my Pa Jim got very, VERY angry when he saw the young airmen drape the flag across some bushes to untangle the cord. He made my Nana pull into the visitors lot, and got out, and proceeded to yell at the young airmen. He yelled to us about the incident all the way home, and yelled some more on the phone to who knows who when we got back to their house!

* Pa Jim loved hunting and raising honey bees at Ramsey, our "home place." He and my daddy used to suit up and rob the beehives for honey. It was SO good! My dad is 6'6" and my mom used to have to duct tape his bee suit because the pants and sleeves didn't go all the way down.

* The Ramsey House is surrounded by the Ramsey hunting club. We used to go to church with a member of the club that told us Pa Jim was known to the hunters as "Old Man Archer" and the rumor was that he would shoot anyone who came on his property. Rumor or not, they took it seriously. Which was good, because he probably would have!!!

* I mentioned that my Pa Jim was a Marine Sharpshooter. Well, my dad tells the story of hunting with him as a teenager with some friends. And my dad said that my grandfather's gun was under the seat of the jeep, while his and his friends' guns were laying on the hood. Several deer crossed into a clearing about 300 yards away. My dad said by the time he and his friends noticed the deer, Pa Jim had his gun out and was firing. He killed two or three deer by the time my dad and the other boys had picked up their rifles.

* My Pa Jim used to hold his pinky finger in the air anytime I left. I knew exactly what this meant- He was wrapped around my finger. And I was wrapped around his...

* My dad wanted to serve in the Air Force and go to flight school, but he was too tall. I have three male cousins (there are 5 grandchildren, my sister and I and our male cousins) and none of them served in the military. So when I started dating Cole, he was the first person in our generation to be, in any real capacity, a member of our family. I think it was my dad who told Pa Jim about Cole. Dad wasn't sure how Pa would take to Cole, being that Cole is Army and Pa Jim was Semper Fi all the way. But Pa Jim thought about it for a few moments, then said "Well. James (my Nana's brother) was in the Army. So I guess he will do." :) He and Cole shared something that no one else in our family shared- the love and dedication to our country that only a combat veteran can understand. And I love that they shared that. And that Pa knew I would be taken care of because he knew that Cole is an honorable and worthy man.

* In Little Rock, there is a TV station that does a thing called "Dialing for Dollars." And during the noon broadcast, they call people and if the person knows the dollar amount and "up" amount that was shown just before the call is made, they win that dollar amount. Well, Pa Jim took dialing for dollars VERY VERY VERY seriously. When it was DfD time, we had to all be quiet and wait for "the call." Well one day my Aunt Bonnie (Pa Jim's sister) called during Dialing for Dollars. And of course when the phone rang, Pa thought it was the TV station and answered excitedly. I guess my Aunt Bonnie started talking because Pa got very red and said "Dammit Bonnie!!! It is noon! Dialing for Dollars!!!!!!" and hung up on her!!! HAHA!

* When I was in college, I used to be requested to bring Pa Jim peanut brittle (and almond and pecan and cashew) from the town where I went to school. Well, Pa Jim always paid me back. Times about 50!!! He was generous to all of his grand kids, but I think me especially, as I was his Bug.

* Pa Jim was 100% disabled during WWII, and had a pin put in his leg, so he always set of metal detectors. Well I don't recall where we would go on a regular basis that had metal detectors, but I remember several times that when he would set them off, he would tell them he had a plate in his head (which he didn't). And no one ever questioned him. I think people knew better.

* For all of his stubbornness, he was a kind and gentle and caring man too. But I have his jealousy to thank for my existence. My Nana tells the story that, after the war, she had been dating Pa off and on, but he would never commit to her. Well she was in town one day, and saw Pa Jim walking down the street. She happened to be with a friend of hers, a boy who was also a distant cousin. She decided then and there that she was going to MAKE Pa Jim decide, so she started to flirt (shamelessly, apparently) with her friend/distant cousin. Well Pa Jim saw, and did NOT like it! He marched right up to them, pushed the poor boy away, and said "that is MY girl! You stay away from her!!!" and they were together ever since. For 61 years.

* My Pa Jim was an ordained Baptist Deacon for 57 years, and a 32nd Degree Mason (which apparently is a pretty big deal). One of the only times- in fact, the ONLY time, I remember him getting onto me was during a funeral. It was at Immanuel Baptist where he was a member for 49 years. I was probably 12, had never been to a funeral, and was smacking my gum. He let me know with one quick look that I needed to "swalla" that gum. Of course, after we left, he made Nana pull into a gas station, and came out with several packs of gum for me! :)

Pa Jim, I love and miss you so very much. It breaks my heart that you never got to meet my sweet girl Ava here on earth. But I like to think that, before babies are sent to live on earth, they are with Jesus in Heaven. And if that is true, then I know that she was blessed with a Pa Jim hug and kiss before I ever saw her. And I know that we will all be reunited again someday. I love you. Love, Your Bug

Pa Jim's DAV photo

Our second to last Christmas together.