Today is the day of laughs and pranks... It's also the anniversary of my grandfather's death. (Cue Debbie Downer sound effect). On April 1, 1994, Joel Raiford Easterwood slipped from a coma into the afterlife, in the early afternoon.
Things I remember about his death: It was nice outside, Freebird was playing on the radio when I stepped out of the shower, and I was absolutely relieved when I walked into the room where Hospice had him set up, because I knew that he was finally free from pain.
Things I remember about his life:
He was a PRANKSTER! He had me and my gullible self thinking for YEARS that one of his legs was longer than the other. He made up some long story about how and why and then one day I realized, that joker's legs were both the exact same size.... LONG AND SKINNY!
He was a drinker... so, I can remember him "thinking" he was hiding that fact from me as he put his beer inside the coffee table door. I remember always hearing the can pop when he opened it and he would look around to see if anyone was watching... (I usually was) as he would sip one after another. He drank to the point of belligerency lots of times and I didn't like that he didn't know when to stop, but nobody is perfect.
He loved to make people laugh... He had crazy sayings that he used for most of his adult life... "You've got freckles on your butt, but you're pretty just the same". (don't ask, because i don't have an answer!!)
"Blow yo nose on that chairn rag.. Nothing I despise tworse than nastiness"
Then there is the story about him taking my mom to buy her Dodge Charger... If you have a weak stomach or are offended easily... seriously stop reading... Somehow a discussion ensued with the salesman about... wait for it... wait for it.... STDs. My grandfather proceeds with saying, "Well, it isn't like it used to be. We used to just be able to stand on a sheet, jump up and down, the crabs would jump off, and we'd be okay!!" Alright, I'm embarrassed to WRITE that... can you imagine the look on the salesman's face?? He was obviously kidding, saying that just for a reaction, (which most of the time he got)... but, OH MY GOSH... I'm glad he settled down a little before I came along.... ;)
My grandfather was 75 years old when he died. He was a rough man... very rough to my grandmother and their children. I've heard stories about him that make me cringe, but I was thankful enough to not see that side. I've heard on a number of occasions that when my mom told him she was pregnant, his infamous response was, "You're not bringing that baby into this house!" Fast forward 40 weeks and a 6 lb. 7 oz. baby later, I've been told he melted the first time we ever met. :) He and my grandmother ended up adopting me when I was 7, so it's a good thing he sorta liked me, I suppose. I was spoiled rotten from day one... I can admit that. And, I can't even say it was just with love... it was with stuff. My grandfather did everything big... He had to have the latest gadgets and he made sure that I had the latest toys.
To me, he was mostly Paw Paw, though somewhere in time, in a unique vocabulary that has been cultivated by several of the Easterwood family members, Paw Paw Pa-Dupa-Scupa also became one of his name tags and he would answer just as if I was calling him by his birth name. To him, I was "monkey feet"... because I liked to climb... on furniture, in trees, on countertops... Years went by and I didn't hear that name. But, the night before he died, he was more himself than he had been in a long time- smiles erupted, nicknames were thrown around, goodbyes were said, and peace fell down on the family, which is more than a lot of people are able to experience. I'm grateful to God for that. The last words he spoke to me were, "You know I love you, Monkey Feet"...
And on and on and on the stories go... He made others laugh... He didn't take life too seriously... He was a very flawed man, but he was generous, goofy, and he provided me with a stable environment in which to grow. Thank you, Paw Paw!!
We all thought it was super fitting that he passed away on April Fool's... I actually had to make sure it was real when they told me, because knowing him, he would've wanted to get one last good one in!! How awesome that we had one last good night with him, where we were all laughing... And, how awesome that in all his craziness, he left me with a legacy of laughs that I've never forgotten. So, today, I remember him vividly, I celebrate his life, and from the bottom of my heart, I say, "Happy April Fool's Day, Paw Paw Pa-Dupa-Scupa... Monkey Feet loves you so!!!" JRE- November 20, 1919 ~ April 1, 2004...