When I was a young girl in the 60’s we would go visit my parent’s families as often as we could get to Texas. My father was in the military so we didn’t really live anywhere for a very long time, until I got a bit older anyway. My father was from Big Spring in West Texas and my mother was from an even smaller town 100 miles west of there, Monahans. Most of my aunts and uncles were also in the general vicinity of these two towns…200 mile radius….easily.
Mamaw and Papaw were my dad’s parents. Granny and Grandad were my mom’s parents. I think, out of these 4 very important people in my young life…I remember less about my Papaw (even though Papaw died 3 years after granddad which was a long time for me as a young person). I was about 6 when Grandad died and 9 when Papaw died.
Papaw Reaves, I remember, was a man of few words although he had a strong presence in every room he was in. My guess is he was a strict disciplinarian but like I said, it’s only a guess. I mean he had 5 boys that I am quite sure were not angels all of the time!
Papaw always sat at the head of the table in the breakfast room/kitchen. It was a light green rectangular table that looked like it had white marble swirls in it and shiny chrome table legs. That’s the best way I could describe it. There were also green vinyl chairs to match. I remember always sticking to the chairs with my bare legs when I sat for a long period of time, because it was always so hot in Texas!
Every meal I had at that table was heavenly. Wow, my Mamaw was a good cook, but more about Mamaw in another post. I remember Papaw when he ate: his plate was always full of everything Mamaw made, but, he would eat one thing at a time. Mashed Potatoes – finish, Green Beans – finish, meat – finish, bread – finish. I thought it very strange and I always wanted to ask him why he ate that way, but I was too afraid to ask! Even stranger now….my son does the same thing and he was born over 20 years after my Papaw died!
A very unfortunate thing I remember about Papaw was that I, along with other people in Papaws life was an unwitting witness to his slow and awful death. Papaw smoked unfiltered cigarettes and cigars all of his life. The repercussion of that bad habit for him was horrible. Papaw would spend many hours a day standing at the kitchen sink trying to get his breath. It was awful. He would bolster his arms a certain way on the sides of the kitchen sink (looking back I’m sure he was trying to expand his lungs as much as he could) so he could get air. He would breathe in and out, with heavy loud breaths, and I remember everybody would act as though nothing unusual was happening. Then again, I guess it wasn’t unusual because he did it every day. We would walk through the kitchen, listening to that horrible sound and quickly walk through to the living room. Unfortunately it was these memories of him that I remember the most – heavy breathing, over the sink. I was always afraid he was going to die over the sink in that house in Big Spring at 601 E. 12th Street. Now I know he probably thought the same thing, that he was going to die one day over the kitchen sink.