I celebrate you.
I celebrate a man who walked coatless to school as a curly red headed boy (up the snowy hill three miles each way) while his 7 year old future sweetheart watched through a window and fell in love with his chilly bones.
I celebrate a man who got a switching for jumping from his desk to peek out the window at the excitement outdoors with his fellow classmates... all except that future sweetheart of his who swore she stayed in her seat as directed.
I celebrate a man who gave his Rastus his class ring, proud to be her man, and then shed tears behind the pharmacy store when she returned it to him.
I celebrate a man that the world knew as "Red" for that bright red hair, causing some to say "Who's Lawrence?"
I celebrate a man who joined the army air corp at the young age of eighteen to bravely fight for his country.
I celebrate the feisty sweetheart of his who worked at the post office while he was away to war and threw away every letter addressed to that boy from any long lashed admirer.
I celebrate a man who walked a six inch plank thousands of feet in the air with bullets bouncing around him to help restart an engine that was malfunctioning in the heat of battle.
I celebrate a man who sent his sweetheart a picture of his war buddies with some wacs, probably to make her just a titch jealous and so she would pine for him even more.
I celebrate a man who flew sugared milk thousands of feet in the air trying to make ice cream and nearly froze to death... all because the war cooks were too intoxicated to cook the promised Thanksgiving dinner for the soldiers.
I celebrate a man who swore the best food he ever put in his mouth was a seafood soup made by an elderly women in a corner shop of a town in Italy.
I celebrate a man who sent his sweetheart a piece of a Nazi bomb that miraculously did not go off and harm them, only to come home from the war and find that she threw it away, clueless as to what it was. And yet, he still loved her.
I celebrate a man who was proud he went to State College, especially when he and his classmates beat their professors at football in exchange for curved grades.
I celebrate a man who after late night shenanigans, a locked trunk full of classified information, and hours of interrogations with a single spotlight in a dark room, proved to the government that he was in fact working with NASA and not as a Russian spy.
I celebrate a man who stood before congress and plead the case of his and his fellow workers space battery.
I celebrate a man who had a part in the first flight to the moon.
I celebrate a man who had a part in bringing two beautiful red headed children into the world, he and his Rastus' greatest accomplishments... so alike and yet so very different. (oh the war stories I could tell!)
I celebrate a man who saw some of the most beautiful sights of the world and yet still said the North Carolina mountains were the most beautiful on the face of the planet.
I celebrate a man whose green thumb produced ripe delicious tomatoes perfect for summer sandwiches... and planted fruit trees that to this day are overflowing with yummies.
I celebrate a man who was the best baby rocker in the world.
I celebrate a man who would snuggle his grandbabies on his hammock outdoors and hum soft hymns as we fell asleep.
I celebrate a man who was found dancing on the roof, only to give my mom a mini heart attack.
I celebrate a man who broke ribs, trying to keep it from his Rastus and failing when one tight hug sent him wailing.
I celebrate a man who found joy in riding his bike in his seventies around the block, picking us up if we fell and scraped our knees.
I celebrate a man who with white knuckles, taught me to drive around that same block.
I celebrate a man who allowed me to work my first fish fry and taught me the ins and outs of deep frying fish, pouring sweet tea, and serving people with a smile.
I celebrate a man who performed the duties of Santa Clause year after year with perfection.
I celebrate a man whose hands were tough enough to build rock walls and yet gentle enough to lightly brush strokes with his paint brush.
I celebrate a man who 9 times out of 10 would be found riding his lawn mower when you pulled in his driveway and would not hesitate to hop off for a kiss and a hug. (yes, even in the winter)
I celebrate a man who took at least 45 minutes to make the most perfect scrambled eggs.
I celebrate a man who spent days making his famous 9 layer chocolate cake for our beach dessert competition only to find it smashed into the back of his van (oh how delicious that van smelled for weeks after!)
I celebrate a man who had white glove cleaning inspections for his children and grandchildren (only when meemaw wasn't looking)
I celebrate a man who served people with pride, delighting in the small things such as cut up celery and cheese or cookies with at least 10000 different types of nuts (too bad if you have a nut allergy!)
I celebrate a man who would spend hours around his breakfast table telling stories with his Rastus to four eager grandgirls, only to find that it was way past lunch when we were finished.
I celebrate a man who could be found every morning sitting by the kitchen window in his rocking chair, reading the morning news.
I celebrate a cold rag being rubbed in my sleepy eyes in the mornings, with grunted murmurings of "peepaw, we are TIRED!"
I celebrate nightly devotions where he would open that cracked and beautiful Bible.
I celebrate the sound of a sliding glass door as he entered from outside with an armful of wood to stir up the fire.
I celebrate a man who tried time and time again to teach me how to dive into that muddy lake, with broomstick again my shins and nerves tickling my stomach (years later and those broomstick tricks have yet to work... poor peepaw)
I celebrate a man who held his Rastus hand for 62 years, even as her memory began to fade, Alzheimer's slowly taking root into that feisty beautiful mind.
I celebrate the way they loved each other, teaching me what love should look like in the hard times.
I celebrate how precious my sweet "Red", Lawrence, Peepaw was these last few years of life, always being quick to say "thank you", being swift to laugh for no reason at my Tony, still snuggling my babies and eating my apple pie with a smile.
I celebrate that even when words began to fail him, how he still knew how to laugh and smile.
I celebrate a man of strength... in rich times and poor, in sad times and happy, in love and in pain, in vibrant youth and in crippling age... he taught us strength. Tonight, tomorrow morning, and every day following... I celebrate you my sweet Peepaw.