Some men grace our lives and we are better for it. Paw-Paw Tom was such a man. He was a quiet man, but full of humor. In the 27 years I knew him, the only times I ever heard him raise his voice were when he needed to be heard over the tractor and when he called to celebrate a Bulldog victory: "How 'bout them Dawgs!"
He was 80 when he went home to Heaven, but I don't think anyone thought of him as "old." Until the age of 78, he was still working at a pace that men 20 or 30 years younger would have found trying. He loved being outside. His yard was always immaculate. He never met an animal he didn't like. He could make anything grow. On his property is a pecan tree that, on one branch, produces black walnuts: he grafted it on.
I truly believe that he loved everyone. That love expressed itself most easily to his grandchildren. Some men are born to be one thing and some are born to be something else. He was born to be a grandfather. The first one was his Sweetie. When the second came along, he added numbers. In all, he had Sweeties #1 through #5. He was not of a generation of men that spent much time in the kitchen, but he made Paw-Paw pancakes every time a Sweetie was there for breakfast. Except for grilling outside, that may be the only thing he knew how to cook! They didn't care. I'm so glad that all 5 are old enough to have solid memories of him.
He will be laid to rest today at Biloxi National Cemetery at 12:30.