Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Remembering Granddaddy: Fifty Years After His Death

For many years I could not figure out why I felt a heaviness around Christmas time. Later I realized that the death of my Granddaddy on December 28 when I was 11 shaped me in many ways.

Granddaddy was a presence of steadiness and fortitude.  I remember Granddaddy  eating shredded wheats and soft boiled eggs each morning.  I remember Granddaddy taking our dog Terry for a walk in the morning and late afternoon.  I remember going to St. James the Less Episcopal Church where Granddaddy was an dedicated member and pillar.  I remember looking at the faded newspaper article and picture of him turning over the ground  when the faithful began building the church. I remember Granddaddy standing in the kitchen telling me to always take care of my sisters.  I remember Granddaddy saying "I am an American citizen" when he wanted people to listen to his opinion.  I remember Granddaddy telling us his immigrant story from Barbados.

Gradually this proud and strong Barbadian-American began to fade away. I remember Granddaddy coming into my bedroom late at night  thinking he was talking to my departed grandmother.  I remember getting out of my bed, taking his hand, and leading him back into his bedroom.  I remember going out to look for Granddaddy and Terry when he had wandered off and bringing them back home. I remember when Granddaddy left to live in a home with 24 hour care.

I remember my parents trying to explain that Granddaddy was gone, forever.
I remember insisting that I wanted to go to his funeral.  I remember the incense in the church at his funeral.  I remember walking to the casket and looking at the crucifix resting on it.  I remember walking down the aisle at the end of the mass with a tear running down my cheek.  I remember the first time I saw my father cry-at my Granddaddy funeral.

Things change that cold December day 50 years ago.  I vowed to myself that I would try to make my Granddaddy proud. My parents gave me his first name as my middle name.  I began using my full name to remember him. The crucifix that was on his casket, now sits on my mantle. I remember him and say a prayer when I look at the crucifix.

Eternal rest, grant unto Charles Christopher Prescod, O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.