My cousin Pug loved my dad.
She thought he was the kindest of the kind when she was a little girl. My dad was Pug’s uncle, and she just reveled in his presence. When he came back from WWII, my dad drove trucks down in the Bluefield, Virginia-area, for the coal mines. One day, Pug came running out into the street to meet him. As she ran toward him, her homemade panties fell around her ankles because they were just too big. Daddy picked her up—her bare bottom didn’t bother him at all—and he put her on his shoulders and walked her to the company store. He bought her the first store-bought panties she’d ever had. He also bought her a beautiful coat at some point while she was still a tiny girl, and that coat and gesture meant the world to her.
Pug told me that story about 15 years ago when she called because she actually framed that coat, along with my dad’s photo and a ring our Aunt Jean gave her. She wanted to make sure I received her treasure when she was no longer able to enjoy it. Over the years, she’d call and she’d talk about how she put my name on the back of the frame; how she’d put pictures in the mail for me, and each time she would retell the story I’m sharing now. Pug was so concerned I wouldn’t receive her gift.
Every now and again she’d call and tell me to come get it, but by the end of the conversation she’d change her mind and tell me: “I just can’t part with it yet.”
Cousin Pug recently moved to an assisted living space because she was suffering from significant memory issues. I reached out to my cousin Emmajean, who assisted with Pug’s move, asking about the framed prize. Emmajean knew Pug wanted her to mail to me from South Carolina, but as a retired post office supervisor, Emmajean also knew there was no way it would safely make the trip. My cousin and I hatched a plan and this past week, Emmajean and her family drove up from their hometown to attend a Virginia Tech game, and I drove down from Stafford and met her at her hotel. I received the gift and also got to meet family I don’t recall having met before. It was such a win-win.
As I sit here this morning, I hope Cousin Pug knows I have her very special gift proudly displayed on my wall. It’s yet another testimonial to the man who built me at my youngest stage—my dad. He was a kind, caring, fun, powerful and beautiful man who became someone’s angel because he cared enough to make a difference to a little girl. Thanks, daddy; thanks, cousin Pug; and thanks, Emmajean and family. Your gift has given me a glimpse of my roots.I ‘m proud Emmajean and I did service to my cousin Pug’s wishes by ensuring one of her touchstones is where she meant it to be, and where it will be appreciated.
And for all of us—this is just a reminder to be kind.
You could quite possibly become someone’s hero.