Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Granddaddy.

Granddaddy first met my grandma at her job. She worked with her best friend at a little store in Mississippi. Granddaddy's friend had seen Grandma before and was interested, because she was a beautiful woman. He sent my grandfather in to the store to set up a date between the two of them. My granddad was supposed to ask her best friend out and make it a double date.

But because Granddaddy is so awesome, he decided that he wanted Grandma for himself. So when he went in, he asked her if she'd like to go drive with him and got her best friend to agree to go out with his own best friend instead.

They went driving that night after my grandma left work because "that's what we did back then!" my grandma always says. They immediately liked each other and went out every night for the rest of the week. At the end of that week, my granddad had to leave because he was in the military and had received orders. 

While he was gone, they exchanged letters constantly. Over the course of a few months, they fell in love via the written word. When he returned home, he immediately went to see her and asked her to marry him. She said yes, and before you know it, they were at a justice of the peace, signing legal documents and becoming husband and wife.

50+ years later, they were still married. After two daughters, serving in Vietnam, six grandchildren, and one great grandchild, my granddaddy passed away.

The day before he passed, he wasn't having an easy time. He was in and out, there and not there, lucid and gone. My grandma was sitting in front of him, holding his hands, and talking to him. He kept saying, "Mama... Mama..." again and again. "Is Mama home?" he asked his wife. "Yes, James, she is," my grandma replied, not wanting to clarify that his mother was in her heavenly home. "Beautiful eyes, Mama," he said, as if he were talking to his deceased mother. "Mama's home... and I'm going home," he told her.

Later that night, he was being put in bed by his nurses. As they were getting him ready, he requested that they send his wife in to tuck him in. "She knows how to do it," he told them. She put him in bed, and that was the last moment they had together. 

The next day, he passed away.

I know that he didn't die alone, because his mother came to get him and take him with her. I don't think he was scared at all. I think he was ready to be with his mother and brother in Heaven at last.

At the funeral, everyone spoke of how my grandfather was one of the funniest people they ever met. Even when he could barely walk, he still made it to church, he still made fun of people, and he still found ways to drive my grandma crazy.

He was a skilled carpenter who could make any animal I requested. He was a war veteran, who had accomplished so much in his 20+ years in the military. He grew up a poor boy on a farm and built an entire life with his family, thanks to hard work and dedication. You never knew if a story he was telling was true or not, but I always liked to believe they were.

He once told us about the time he hitched a ride with a neighbor on the way back from town. He rode in the back of the truck with his friend and noticed that there were bags and bags of fruit inside. The man driving the truck was very poor and had bought the fruit for his eleven children for Christmas. He stopped at a "friend's" house (so my granddad says), and the friend was not his wife. While the man was inside, my granddaddy and his friend ate every piece of fruit in the back of that truck and took off.

He thought that story was hilarious. "He shouldn't have been messin' around on his wife!" he always said.

We saw him one last time in the casket before they closed the top and brought him to the burial site. A beautiful American flag was draped over the top and the U. S. Air Force medallion was on the side. The honor guards marched out, folded the flag into a perfect triangle, and stood at attention during the playing of Taps. After the last note, the guard turned toward my grandmother, presented her with the flag, and saluted her in honor of her husband and all that he had done for our country.

"This body is not James," said the preacher afterwards. "This is simply the body that James lived in while he was here. James is in our hearts, he's in our souls, he's in our memory. Every time you remember him, he lives on."

Granddaddy, you were one amazing person, and Heaven is lucky to have you. 

But maybe you should try not to laugh so much when you're telling God that story about stealing the fruit, okay?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holy Shit, Please Don't Fall Down Those Stairs.

This is a picture heavy post! You've been warned...

The day of the wedding itself was actually a lot less stressful than I anticipated. The night before, I slept at my mom's house and had a slumber party with my sister. We ate a shitload of chocolate, watched Ever After (and quoted every line), and fell asleep pretty early. The next morning when I woke up, the nerves still hadn't quite kicked in yet.

I got my nails did with my bridesmaids and then my best friend and I went to get our hurr did.

After getting our hair styled and makeup done, Katelynn started the drive to my mom's house to drop me off. Five minutes away, she turned down the music and said, "I could never have picked anyone better for you. I know Andy is your soul mate, and I'm so, so happy for you, best friend." We shared I love you's as we pulled into my driveway.

Cry count: 1

When I made it to my mom's house, it was time to put the dress on and head to the First Look. The First Look is when the bride and groom meet up before the wedding, take a few pictures, and then go their separate ways until the ceremony. We decided to do it because I didn't want to be a nervous wreck walking down the aisle, plus it provided way better picture opportunities than just taking some at the church.

After a mix-up of locations, we finally got to the spot. My photographer (JennFar Photography) came to my mom's car and told me she was going to go to Andy, have him turn in the opposite direction, and motion me to start walking their way.


I was so fucking nervous, y'all. It was like going on a first date all over again. My hands were sweaty, and I was trying to keep my face from looking weird, and I felt like my heels were clacking super loud, and I was worried that Andy wouldn't think I was OMG SO MUCH PRETTY HAPPENING, and eeeeeeek!

But then I made it to him.


And I wasn't scared at all anymore.


I forgot the photographer was there, forgot my mom was parked down the road, forgot we were standing mere yards away from the only gay club in town. It was just me and him, giggling and looking at each other and feeling like grown ups. "Are you nervous?" I asked him. "Kind of... are you?" "Not really, anymore." Feeling like a grown up and a nervous pre-teen all at the same time is such a weird feeling. "I love you, baby. But I have to be honest," I started, "I have sweat dripping down my leg right now, and it's grossing me out. Can we head to the church?"

We took one last picture, with a Zoolander theme. "Blue steel, baby!" I shouted.


We kissed one last time and headed to the church.

I had to sit at the church for two fucking hours before the wedding. UGH IT WAS FOREVER AND EVER AMEN. I watched my bridesmaids get ready, had my hurr fixed again, ate some cheese, smoked a cigarette, listened to music, HOLY SHIT, IT STILL ISN'T TIME?

Twenty minutes before the ceremony, my sisters said they had a surprise for me. They gave me a scrapbook, and I started flipping through.

The pages were filled with pictures of us as kids. My oldest sister reading to me when I was a baby, my other sister holding me and smiling proudly. Mixed in were notes of how happy they are for me, how much they love me, how they couldn't have asked for a better brother-in-law. The last page held a picture of us at my bachelorette party, all grown up. Buying cars, moving out, getting married. But wasn't it just yesterday that we were having sleepovers in my sister's room, talking about boys and quoting YouTube videos like it was our job?

Cry count: 2

Right before the wedding started, I felt the nerves kicking in. Everyone kept asking me if I was nervous yet, and I could only think YES, YES, OF COURSE I'M NERVOUS.

We all lined up to walk down the aisle. "I love you, best friend," Katelynn mouthed before she turned and prepared to step through the doors.

My oldest sister started to walk down the aisle first to an instrumental version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

And then the music cut out.

She stood there awkwardly for a moment, trying to figure out what to do. She started walking back up the aisle backwards, and then the music started again. She hesitated with a "fucking seriously?" look before she resumed walking. The other girls followed behind her. The music was a little off, but I was too busy thinking about how embarrassing it would be if I fell down the stairs to realize it.

My dad and I stepped up to the doors after the flower girls had made it all the way down the aisle. We had a quick conversation about when we were supposed to start walking. "Now?" "I don't think so..." "What about now?" "I'm not sure..." "Is it time yet?" "Will they tell us?" "Should we know this already?" "Meh, fuck it, let's get this shit on the road."

We started walking, and my main concern was OMG DO NOT FALL DOWN THESE FUCKING STAIRS, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY AND GOOD. Longest. Walk. Of my life, y'all.

I made it to the end of the aisle and smiled at Andy. He was sniffling already.


My dad did a reading. The officiant read our vows. Andy apologized halfway through for sniffling still. We exchanged rings and lit a unity candle. Andy said I almost broke his hand from squeezing so hard. It was over so quickly that I hardly even had time to notice that I was, you know, GETTING MARRIED.

And then we were officially husband and wife.


We signed some official documents, took some official pictures, and exhaled.

Introducing.......... Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Bee!


And then we headed to the reception.....

Which will be told at a later time. 


All pictures were taken by my very sweet, very awesome photographer, Jenn. Her Facebook page is here.