This post brought to you by the inspiration of my friend Maggie after she told about the time she saw a dead body.
I was about three or four years old when my grandfather on my father's side died. I don't remember a thing about him, except that I thought he was mean. That could be because the only memory I have of him is being on the front porch of his house, a screened-in porch, running the length of the porch and launching myself against the door. He yelled at me, and I cried, and I have always thought of him as mean. He probably died thinking I was a snot-nosed little brat who needed my butt beat, but I guess I'll never know.
I have vivid memories of being at the funeral home when he died. My father picked me up and made me look into the casket so I could see Paw-Paw. I was terrified of Paw-Paw alive, and I was pretty sure I couldn't trust him to be "not only merely dead, [he's] really most sincerely dead" (name that movie).
I wanted down, away from that dead man. But my father had other plans.
"Say goodbye to Paw-Paw," he insisted.
I had no intentions of doing any such thing.
"Say bye to Paw-Paw," my father repeated.
I distinctly remember shaking my head. And if you think a child can't remember something that happened when she was three or four years old, you have no idea how terrified I was at that moment.
"If you'll say goodbye to him, he'll say bye back to you," Daddy said.
Now I'm pretty sure I didn't know a lot at that age. I had not yet used the quadratic formula, did not know how to use litmus paper to test chemicals, didn't know that lightning causes thunder to occur, and I wasn't very good yet at balancing my checkbook. I did know, however, that dead people ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO TALK.
My father, being my father, would not relent. He forced me to speak to Paw-Paw.
Just as I suspected, he didn't say a damn word.
And that, friends, is why I am the way I am today. Or at least it's one of the reasons.