Granddaddy Faircloth

Granddaddy Faircloth holding me when I was an infant (1957)

Granddaddy Faircloth
Christmas Day, 1966
Jeff Garrison

I’m now ten years older than you were
when I snapped that photo,
a nine year old boy on Christmas morning
with his new camera, a Kodak Instamatic.

It took some persuasion for you to get up
and step outside, but my grandmother coaxed
and with the camera you’d given me
I snapped a slightly crooked shot.

Mom said it was probably the last photo taken of you,
in a dress shirt beside your tall skinny bride, adorn in a white dress,
the two of you standing like sentinels by the holly bush
just off the front stoop where, in summer, we grandkids killed flies.

That photo has been lost for half a century,
but it’s still etched in my mind
your grin and crew cut hair,
and your arm around your wife, my grandma.

I wonder what you were thinking?
Did you want to get back inside to take a drag off your Lucky Strike?
Or sip dark black coffee from your stained cup?
Or ponder when we youn-ins (that rhymed with onions) would be quiet?

Perhaps, though, more was on your mind
as you thought how, in another month, you’d be preparing beds
in order to set out tobacco seed,
but that would be weeks after you took your last breath.

There’s much about you I’m curious to know,
things that’s been lost over the years.

When you visited us that fall of ‘66,
shortly after we moved to Wilmington,
you joked that we now needed a maid since we had a brick house
with two bathrooms.

Later that afternoon, we walked in the woods out back,
and you told of hunting among those pines during the war
when you were a welder at the shipyard,
and how they cut the bottom of your shirt off for missing a deer

Did you ever shoot a deer with that old Savage Stevens,
or did I avenge your bad luck,
when, as a seventeen year old, I downed a six pointer in Holly Shelter Swamp,
the only deer I ever had in that double-barrel (or any barrel’s) sights?

And I like to have an opportunity to see you once more
work in a tobacco field with your mule, Hoe-handle, pulling the plow,
or perched up on top of that orange Allis-Chambers tractor,
pulling a sled of Bright Leaf up to the barn for curing.

But what I’d really like to experience is a night with you at the barn,
keeping the fires hot by feeding wood into the heaters
under a sky filled with stars and lightning bugs
and the flickering kerosene lantern that now sits on my mantel.

On those evening, swapping stories with friends,
did your mouth water for something to quench your thirst,
something smooth that you’d long sworn off,
but the desire, I expect, was still there?

It must have taken quite a bit of strength,
to give up the drink and break with some of your brothers
as you strove to live a straight life
and earn the respect of your mother-in-law.

But I will never know, in this realm at least, any of this
and must be content of my memories of that Christmas,
in the home that belonged to the women around you,
your mother-in-law, your wife and your daughters.

You’d cut a beautiful red cedar that year,
decorated it with white lights, red bulbs,
and an abundance of icicles with presents for your grandkids
filling the floor around the base of the tree.

After our presents were opened,
you called us back to your bedroom where,
with boxes of fruits and nuts you stuffed bags for everyone,
contents that’ll have to last a lifetime.

Granddaddy’s lantern: I have often used this when fishing or camping at night for it doesn’t blind you like a Coleman lantern


Comments

Granddaddy Faircloth — 36 Comments

  1. Oh Jeff, thank you for these beautiful memories of Granddaddy Faircloth. You described him so perfectly and the way I remember him too. He slept on an old cot at the barn and when they “put in” tobacco, he always picked a couple of his best watermelons for us to eat at break time. Your memories brought good tears this morning❤

    • Thank you Cuz! The only thing I remember of the barn he used wood to cure was it burning. We got there after it was burned, but Dad helped make sure the fire didn’t get into the pack house. We were still living on Doubs Chapel Road, so I must have been four or five. When he rebuilt, he put in either kerosene or fuel oil burners to heat the barn, so he didn’t have to stay there tending it all night.

  2. Jeff, what a nice tribute to your Granddaddy! He would be so proud of the Godly man you have become. I pray that you and yours have a wonderful, blessed Christmas! Terri

  3. Jeff, thank you for posting your memories of Granddaddy. That’s a special treasure you can hold in your heart. Being only three when he passed, I have a memory of riding with him at night in this pickup truck. We were going to visit one of his friends. It was just the two of us. The other memory I have was when he gave me a toy hammer so I wouldn’t feel left out when Mama and Daddy were building the house. Unfortunately, that little hammer fell down one of the blocks when the house was being built. In memory of Granddaddy, I named my little farm Pete’s Family Produce. This was when I sold at the farmer’s market. Wish he could have been there to give me pointers on gardening. I heard he grew the biggest and best watermelons around! ❤️

    • Thanks Cuz! I remember y’all building that house, but that’s a nice memory of having your own hammer! I didn’t know that about your farmer’s market name, but I know he’d be proud of your produce because your mother often shared some with us.

    • I have always felt so blessed. When I was born, I had all four of my grandparents and five of my great-grandparents. By the time I turned twenty, I was down to one grandmother and one great-grandmother. My grandmother died three years ago.

  4. What a great tribute, Jeff. You are blessed to have known your granddad. I’m trying to make some of those special memories with my grandchildren now.

  5. We loved Uncle Pete, and was there his last Christmas, in the afternoon. Our parents, me, and probably Marshall always visited all the Faircloths in Pinehurst after our Christmas lunch. I received my “diamond” for Christmas, and of course Uncle Pete picked on me unmercifully about getting married, all the while with a big grin on his face. Wanting to know all about the “boy”. We were all so close to that family, since, as daddy always said, “If I had a favorite brother, it would definitely be Pete”. Thank you Jeff.

    • It was a Sunday and we’d come up early that morning (I remember opening presents before Church), then we went over to Culdee for church (I think Dad took us and Mom stayed with David, who was only 2 weeks old). After church, we came back for lunch. We ate dinner at the Garrison’s, then drove back to Wilmington. There was a lot of eating!

  6. Hi Jeff – so sad he wasn’t around for you to spend more time with … but you’ve described him wonderfully well – I could certainly ‘see him’ … but love the photo you’ve put up of you in the very early years. Have a blessed Christmas and being able to welcome the new year in … with your family and parishioners … Hilary

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