My father picked me up at the airport. He held my hand to guide me. Once again, I was his little girl in need of support. Syrupy Southern accents touched my ears. The air was heavy with the smell of smoke, and rows of Navy men passed me, looking patriotic in brisk white uniforms and tidy blue hats. I thought of the first time I had flown to this airport alone. I was a "big" girl then, eight years old, and my "Pop Pop" was going to pick me up at the airport. When I got off the plane, he was waiting. He threw me up in his arms and called me his "little darlin'." He smelled as if he had just taken a bath in pine needles.
The drive from the airport to the funeral home was long. At one point, the sky opened up and warm rain poured down. With the wipers endlessly brushing at the drops, we drove up to the funeral home. In the darkness it looked like a...
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...wanted me to. I would go fishing in his honor, drag out the old mosquito hammocks, and spend a night telling my little sisters about what a special grandfather they had had. But the hammocks are still in storage and my sisters have never been fishing. The day of the funeral I was disgusted, but when his coffin was laid in the grave and all of the mourners had gone home, I happily got on the plane and flew back to my friends and my boyfriend. I did not want to remember the way I had seen him.
My family has never really talked about him since the funeral, and I never bring it up. We don't pray about him at the dinner table, and my grandmother does not call herself Mrs. Herbert O'Neil Jones anymore. My mother never mentions him, except once a year on his birthday when she feels obligated to call my grandmother to show her respects. This year she called a day late.
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