~ A Special Guy ~
by Meredith B. Mosley
"Dawdaw," I said, opening up the hospital door and creeping inside the hospital room, my dad right behind me. The only sound I heard was the sound of a western movie playing on the TV. I walked around the corner, and there I saw him lying helpless and weak as he slept on the hospital bed. I went over and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Dawdaw," I whispered again, taking his aged, fragile hand. "It's me. Meredith." Then there was a sudden movement and he was awake.
"Hi, Sweetie," he said groggily.
"Hey," I replied, trying to hold back tears that were going to come rolling out of my eyes and down my face any moment. He looked horrible. He wasn't the same grandfather I had remembered seeing just a week earlier before he broke his hip.
"How are you?" I asked, leaning in to kiss his soft, pale forehead.
"Well...I'm doing okay, I guess," he replied.
"That's good," I responded, the tears now trickling down my face.
"What's wrong, Sweetie?" he asked, concerned.
"Oh nothing ... I'm fine," I said, wiping away the tears. "Did you know I'm going to Colorado tomorrow?"
"Yes, I think I've heard that a time or two," he answered, looking me straight in the eyes. "You're going to have lots of fun," he said, forcing a small smile. I could tell he was in a great deal of pain and that he was using every bit of his energy to make that small smile, trying to reassure me that he was okay.
"Yeah, I think I will too," I said, smiling back. "When I get home, I'll make sure to come and tell you all about it."
"I'll be looking forward to that then," Dawdaw said. I could tell he was getting tired again because he kept shutting his eyes and then opening them.
My dad obviously could tell he was getting tired too. He said, "Well...I think we should get going, but I love you, Dad. I'll be back later, and we can talk some football."
"Alright, I love you, Son." he responded.
Then my dad motioned me to get out of the chair. As I did, I bent down, kissed my grandfather one last time and whispered in his ear, "I love you, Dawdaw."
"I love you too, Meredith. I'm very proud of you."
"Thank you," I said, going over to stand by my dad.
My dad brought me in close to his chest and held me tight as we left the room and walked down the hall and out into the parking lot to get into the car. Once we were in the car, my dad reminded me of a time when Dawdaw was in good health and did not have cancer, and we all drove up for a Mississippi State football game . . .
"We're here," Dawdaw said excitedly as we pulled into the Mississippi State parking lot, looking for the spot where we were supposed to be meeting my grandfather's and dad's friends that we were going to tailgate with. We had driven four hours to get to Starkville, Mississippi, where we would soon be eating bar-b-q and chips before the big Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss game. It was the last game of the season and very chilly out with the autumn wind blowing and the leaves on the trees falling to the ground.
"There they are!" I said, beginning to jump up and down in my seat. As soon as we had parked I grabbed my Mississippi State football and raced over to see everyone. We talked for a while as we ate the delicious bar-b-q my dad's friend had made.
After everyone was finished eating, I said, "Come on, Dawdaw," grabbing his arm and pulling him over to a clear grassy area. "Let's play!" I said as I held the football out in front of me.
"Okay. Give me the ball and you run long, and I'll throw it to you."
"Alright," I said, already running in the other direction as he threw it up in the air. I watched it as it fell into my arms. "TOUCHDOWN!" I yelled, grinning from ear to ear. Then I threw it back to him, and he threw it back to me.
We continued to do this until my dad said, "It's time to go, you two, if you want to be able to see the first play of the game."
"Okay," we both said, running to catch up with him.
Not long after we entered the stadium, Dawdaw said, "Meredith, hold my hand. I don't want you to get separated from us." Then we made our way to the elevator. Once we got into the elevator my grandfather noticed another State fan by himself. "Hi, what's your name?" Dawdaw asked.
"I'm Don," my grandfather said. "It's nice to meet you, Jason."
"It's nice to meet you too."
"So . . . where are you from?" Dawdaw asked quizzically.
"I'm from Tupelo. What about you?"
"Well, we're from Mobile, but we used to live here in Starkville."
"Oh, okay," Jason replied.
"This is a big game today. Do you think we can win?" Dawdaw asked Jason.
"I hope so," Jason replied.
Then the elevator door opened and Dawdaw said, "It was nice to meet you, Jason."
"It was nice to meet you too, Don. GO DAWGS!"
"GO DAWGS!" My grandfather said, smiling. Then we got off the elevator and went our separate ways.
Even as cancer weakened his health, my grandfather remained a strong man who loved life and people. The huge crowd at his funeral was a testament to the respect and warmth that Dawdaw gave everyone that he came in contact with. He was a loving, decent and honorable man. I miss him very much.
Meredith Mosley is a 7th grader at St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile, Alabama. This character sketch was written in her creative writing class. Active in sports and extracurricular activities, Meredith also excels academically, much to the delight of her parents, Emily and Don, her paternal grandmother, Susan, and her maternal grandparents, Gerald and Beth. (Beth is also known around USADEEPSOUTH.com as Ye Editor!) Meredith has one sister, Caroline (5), who also shows great promise as a writer.
Donald C. Mosley, Sr., a native of Starkville, Mississippi, was professor Emeritus of Management at the University of South Alabama and also the founder and chairman of the Synergistic Consulting Group. Earlier in his career, Dr. Mosley served as Chair of the Management Department at Mississippi State University and as a visiting professor at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, where he helped to develop the first M.B.A. degree program in New Zealand. In 1973 he became Dean of the College of Business at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, where he helped the College become accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. In 1983, he returned to teaching, research, and consulting. In 1999 he received the University of South Alabama Alumni Association's Outstanding Professor award and is mentioned in Who's Who Among America's Teachers.
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