That man was my grandfather in his WWII days. --->
Today, I miss my PawPaw horribly. I'm so unsure about the future and so tired and depressed lately. My PawPaw always knew exactly what to say to put things in percpective for me.
My PawPaw, Howell Jones West, was one of the best people I ever had the honor of knowing.
He always told me he was proud of me. Even after I told my parents I wanted to drop out of high school because I was so far behind that I'd never graduate, my PawPaw said, "Oh yes you can. Don't you remember what I used to tell you when you were a little girl that Winston Churchill used to say?"
I rolled my eyes, "Yes PawPaw," I muster up my best British accent and say, "We shall nev'r surrender."
My PawPaw nodded his head like he was the one who'd done my raising... And I guess in a way, he did.
And when I told my family that I had decided to drop out of college and go to cosmetology school, let's just say they were less than thrilled...
But my PawPaw said, "Thatta girl, Armandy (My PawPaw never called me Mandie or Amanda, always Armandy) I'll be proud to tell every body my granddaughter's a professional hair cutter."
Haha. I'm laughing through my tears right now.
But in October of 2008, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. It had originated as skin cancer that had gone untreated and had spread through-out his body.
The doctors suggested radiation. Possibly chemo.
My grandfather suffered through the radiation that zapped his tastebuds that he couldn't taste anything ever again. He had a huge hole in his head in front of his ear, which was where the skin cancer had originated.
He lost weight and refused to eat. He lost that sparkle in his eyes.
And somewhere in my heart, a piece of me began dying too.
I begged my PawPaw to keep fighting. But my pawPaw was 85 and so tired of fighting. He was exhausted and ready to go home to the Father.
But I wasn't ready to let him go. I still needed someone in my court. I still needed him. Maybe it was selfish of me to want him to stay so badly.
Because my PawPaw was proud of me no matter what.
And when he asked me to give him his final haircut... The last haircut he would have before he passed away. I said no.
"Why not, Armandy?" My PawPaw cocked his head to the side and looked at me.
I crossed my arms. How could ask this of me? "Because, PawPaw, I suck at hair cutting. I'm only in the first quarter of school."
"You're the only one I want to give me my haircut."
And that was it. I set him up in the bathroom and went away at cutting his solid white hair. My PawPaw didn't have that ugly gray hair, but that beautiful snow white hair.
And I cried silent tears and wiped them away on my sleeve before he could see my reflection in the mirror.
Later, my grandmother told me that all of my PawPaw's friends that had stopped by had to listen to my PawPaw brag about how his granddaughter had given him his great haircut.
Hm. This laughing and crying bit is killing me...
A week before my grandfather died, I went into the livingroom where he was in his favorite rocker.
He looked up at me with tired eyes.
"Will you tell me what Winston Churchill used to say back in the war?" I hadn't heard my PawPaw say it since I was a little girl. And I wanted to hear him say it with that funny fake British accent of his one last time.
But I figured he'd be too tired to muster up the accent.
He looked me in the eye and then didn't say anything. He looked up and then down and then took a deep breath like it was all he had left in him.
And in his fake British accent no less, "We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."
I cried tears that my PawPaw didn't see. Because when he finished I left the room immediately. My PawPaw knew me well enough to know that I just needed to hear those words in his voice, just one more time.
I miss my PawPaw. But on days like this, when I feel like just giving up, I hear his voice, "We shall nev'r surrender."
No, PawPaw, I don't guess I will.
Lived Through by Mandie Described at 5:01 PM