I know you ain’t much for readin’ right now. And I know you dun told me you ain’t like how the phone was so dang small when Mama tried tuh get ya tuh FaceTime with me. So I figg’red I’d film ya a little sumptin’ while you cooped up in the house. If yer seein’ this, it’s ‘cause one uh the youngins got off their butt and made it so it’ll come on the TV. I told ‘em whoever went’n did it’s go’n get the bigger amount uh money on the gift card they gettin’ fer Christmas this year, so I’mma need you tuh tell me who it was when I get home next week. One of ‘em’ll get five dollars, and the one who did what I asked’ll get a couple hundr’d. You know Kenzie ‘n Kendra’ll lie right tuh my face ‘bout it.
Heck, I know you go’n lie fer ‘em, too. “Naw, Zeb, both of um done come helped yer ol’ Paw work this dang movie.” Grandboy go’n be drained dry, but all ‘cause you thank he’s a fancy millionaire celebrity now.
Anyway, I know it’s been awhile. Reckon I put it off ‘cause I knew I’d be seein’ ya sooner rather’n later, but also ‘cause ain’t much goin’ on other than what we shot the bull ‘bout last time. I know you don’t much care fer ‘rasslin nowadays, but ‘rasslin’s ‘bout all I got tuh talk about lately. You prolly not been watchin’, but I hope if ya are, you proud uh what I’m doin’.
I know you remember last time me and you went fishin’. Brought uh H-O-Dubya camera man out there with us. I told ‘em you were a cheap ass fer not payin’ me ‘cause I thought you was uh-sleep, then lo and behold, you done been listenin’ the whole time. Heard me tellin’ the story ‘bout how you tricked me inta catchin’ bream, all the while just waitin’ tuh get a word in out the dark.
You told me I wasn’t no free labor, that I’s bein’ paid in lifelong mem’ries.
I said that was a bunch of stuff a horse drops from his hind end, and you owed me fer ‘bout fifteen years’ worth uh back pay. I was the Lamont to your Fred Sanford.
Turns out I’m the one done fulla shit. I owe you, Pawpaw.
From the very dadgum second Mama gave birth tuh me, you was there tuh be the man in my life that my real daddy wouldn’t never go’n be. Until she met Mark, you swore up and down that Gawd was go’n strike you dead befo’ me and her ever did without, and worked damn hard tuh make shore of it. And in all the areas where Mark was jus’ a little too ‘city’ tuh teach me ‘bout thangs, you was right there tuh step in. I could change the oil on a car ‘fore I knew how tuh do long division. I could back a boat trailer in the water five years ‘fore I got my learner’s permit.
You taught me tuh not be embarrassed uh who I am and where I come from. That it’s alright tuh have a lil’ dirt on ya, that I kin grow my hair out long if I dang well please, and that embracin’ bein’ Southern ain’t about flyin’ a rebel flag and wearin’ a cowboy hat. It’s about bein’ hospitable, no matter what color somebody’s skin is. Except uh course if they a politician or the police: I know you ain’t big fans uh neither.
But most important thang you taught me, you probably never even done realized.
Only person got more reason tuh hate my blood father more’n my Mama is you. Him dyin’ didn’t forgive him fer leavin’ her without so much as a hug and a handshake. And anyone got reason tuh have wanted tuh get to him befo’ that tree did, it’d have been Russell and Allison Martin. Now, I don’t blame Mama fer speakin’ ‘bout him the way she did when I’s growin’ up. But what stuck with me most?
You ain’t never had a bad word tuh say ‘bout him in front of me.
And I know that ain’t really come from Sundey School influence, neither. Maybe you just thank there ain’t no such thang as bad people: just bad decisions. Or, maybe it’s ‘cause you did some thangs you wasn’t proud of when you’s his age ‘er my age now, and ‘cause you thank he might uh gotten straightened out if he’d had the chance. I’on’t know. Maybe we can talk ‘bout that when I get home.
But it’s been on my mind here as I gotta go fight a man that ain’t made good choices here recent.
Ol’ Dan Ryan didn’t really give much an opportunity tuh find out if Doozer could turn the conah back to somebody you could be proud tuh call family. A giant dadgum killin’ machine like him don’t really care too much ‘bout anyone’s future plans, so there’s another lesson learned: don’t wait tuh get yer licks in after you know a hammer uh Gawd might be comin’ down.
Thankfully fer me, I got uh ‘nother old family member tuh resettle a score with. My job description ain’t got the room in it tuh be too civil this weekend. Whoopin’ ass go’n be there regardless of that same hug ‘n handshake courtesy my daddy didn’t give Mama that I might be obliged tuh give my opponent. Only after it’s all said and done, though.
But until then? I’mma take what you taught me and put in practice.
Not a bad word tuh say in front of no one ‘bout Cancer Jiles.
I’ll be home for Christmas, Pawpaw.