Grandpa Slick. Not many people can say they have a Grandpa Slick. But I could. I don’t remember how old I was when I realized all my cousins called him Grandpa Walt. But I liked calling him Grandpa Slick. It just seemed right, and somehow more special. I remember hearing the story of how he got the nickname way back when… back when his tattoos were still legible and he still had a full head of hair. That was Grandpa Slick.
Grandpa was a unique character to say the least. He was what I like to call a “good ol’ boy.” He never knew a stranger. He worked hard and made sure others worked hard too. He spoke his mind. He loved the Lord and his family. He made mistakes. He made many beautiful things. He traveled the world. He lived on a farm. He lived in a castle. He loved John Wayne. He was determined. He was stubborn. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. That was Grandpa Slick.
His death Sunday morning caught me off-guard… but then again, he had a way of doing that in life as well. You never really knew what Grandpa Slick was going to say or do next. I believe his last words to me, as he patted me on the shoulder, were, “Keep praying; it will happen.” I love that these were at least among his last words to me, if not the very last. I especially love that he said these words completely out of the blue at my brother’s wedding, basically telling me to keep praying for a man to come along. It was one of those “Oh, Grandpa” moments that makes you inwardly roll your eyes while silently laughing and secretly hoping he’s right. That was Grandpa Slick.
Grandpa Slick softened a bit over the years. The “I love you”s and the “I’m proud of you”s came more and more frequently as the years progressed. Those words are always meaningful, but even more so when you know they are coming from someone who will always shoot straight with you and tell you how it is. He would talk about his ailments, but he would just state the facts. He didn’t throw himself many pity parties. I remember a letter I received from him while I was overseas. He filled me in on how they had been sick, he had gotten his hand caught in the table saw, and he had to have an ingrown toenail removed. He followed this summary with, “out side of that we are doing great.” No hint of sarcasm. That was Grandpa Slick.
We celebrated New Year’s at their house once and he let us kids throw confetti. I seriously think we were still finding that stuff five years later. I have a jewelry box sitting just a few feet from me that he made just for me. He had a wheezing laugh that I inherited from him. When I was raising money to go overseas, he took my need to his church who then blessed me with their generosity. He always wanted to help however he could. I loved hearing him talking about planning his Sunday school lessons or what he was studying in the Bible. He had some incredible stories from his amazing life that I wish I had written down. He wore overalls to weddings, but only his best pair. He watched the animals outside the window every morning. That was Grandpa Slick.
That letter he sent me also contained a little ditty that he adapted from “a reassertion Jimmie Dean the sausage man did once.” His version was a tribute to his church, a word of thanks for their support and generosity over the years. It really shows his heart. The recurring line said, “I’m drinking from my saucer because my cup has overflowed.” This is Grandpa Slick.