In the space of one season, a lot can change

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2009

In the space of a football season, a lot can happen.

At the beginning of this season, I bid a fond goodbye to my grandfather, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. We talked at length and he still remembered me.

I went to visit him this past weekend and the man who decorated my life in ways I can’t even begin to comprehend or fathom, was no longer there.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

My mother and I saw a slight spark, but he didn’t even act like he knew who we were. I fought back tears as best I could.

Steve Wilson is sports editor of the Vicksburg Post. He can be reached by email or at 601-636-4545, ext. 142.

No trash talk about his beloved Auburn Tigers. No jibes about the my alma mater, the University of Alabama. No discussions on history or politics. He was there, but not really, his colorful memories and anecdotes erased by that cursed disease.

I remember he was a latecomer to my life, but he took advantage of every bit of it. After my paternal grandfather died, he took over. He didn’t miss a birthday or a game in which I played. He took me hunting for furniture and knick-knacks for he and my grandmother to sell at their second-hand store, aptly named Sanford and Wife. It was a wonderful collection of furniture in various states of repair or decay, strange treasures that only my grandfather could find and lots of medical equipment. Items would hang out of the various Rancheros, El Caminos and old vans that he’d use to haul everything. He was known as the Tornado, as he would sweep up all of the good stuff early in the morning on Saturdays while others slept.

He taught me to drive, a wild-haired boy who couldn’t learn under his parents’ impatient tutelage. He gave me my love of all things automotive as I heard about tales of his favorite sports car, the Triumph TR-6, which he described as the fastest, roughest-riding car on the planet.

He lived by his own code. He cursed like a sailor, yet attended Mass daily. I never heard him talk about faith one time, but his kindness to all matter of strangers said more than words. He and my grandmother once made a trip to the Soviet Union back when the KGB ran things and they were even tailed in their travels through the Land of the Czars. He went to Auburn for pharmacy school and dropped out, much to the disgust of my great-grandfather, who wanted him to avoid the restaurant business that consumed so much of his time.

He discovered the wreck of the ironclad U.S.S. Tecumseh on the bottom of Mobile Bay and spent a fortune and the better part of his life trying to salvage the remains and put them on display. The ship, famous for being lost mines known as torpedoes, at the Battle of Mobile Bay, gave Admiral David Farragut the opportunity to utter his famous phrase: “Damn the torpedoes. Four bells. Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!”

Now all of that is gone. He is on the long and final walk of his long life and I will surely miss his counsel and friendship to me.

So I urge all of you: spend quality time with your loved ones. Don’t let another day pass without taking advantage of the finite time we all have together here. Because in the end, memories are all you will have.

So make some before another season goes away.