As I look back on this year, I cannot help but be torn between the happiness I feel for my friends as they battle their way through various cancers and celebrate their victories and the sadness I feel for loosing my grandfather. He was a HUGE part of life - he still is and always will be - but knowing that I cannot pick up the phone and talk to him or give him a hug when I go home, well, it breaks my heart.
See, my grandfather, Joseph E. Vaught, lived to be 98 years old. The youngest of eight children, he was the last of his siblings to cross over the rainbow into eternity. He was not afraid and knew his Christ well. I have know doubt I will see him again when my turn comes. He left behind a legacy. He left behind multiple generation of stubborn, independent, stand-up for what is right, God-fearing, God-loving men and women who will raise their children to be the same.
He also left behind my grandmother, Dr. Grace C. Vaught. He was her knight in shining armor. She misses him more than anyone on this earth has missed anyone. She stays distraught no matter how we try to keep her entertained - and this is why my heart breaks so much. There is no medicine to take away the pain she feels, nor enough hugs to fill her void. She knows he is safe and that she too will see him again one day, but with 68 1/2 years of marriage behind her, she knows nothing else. He was her rock and encourager. He was so in love with her. Everyday he told her how beautiful she is, and how much he loved her. He would tell anyone that came to visit or stopped to talk to him when out in town. He wrote poetry for her and about her all the days of her life. He wrote a whole book of poetry and had it published, dedicated to her (as well as all of the novels he wrote). Yes, he was a published author.
My grandfather was a professional "woman watcher" as he put it too. My grandparents owned and personally ran the Ms. Hickory-Catawba Scholarship Pageant in Hickory, NC for many years. They "adopted" so many new girls into our family through this pageant. They spent many years traveling and judging pageants as well. Many times when I went to visit there were girls in their home training and practicing for an upcoming pageant, be it their pageant or another, they were always willing to help "their" girls.
Over the years, my grandparents moved to Florida. Although they did not run any pageants, they jumped in with both feet and started a local library among all of the other things they did. This sticks out the most to me because they let me help. I was able to help order children's books and give my input. That library helped so many people in need in that small community.
There are so many stories I could write about, but I will end here with this. My grandfather gave me away on my wedding day. Long story short, I was married in their living room and my father was not there, but even up to the last minute my grandfather kept telling me that he was sure my dad would show up. He did not, so he went and put on his tuxedo and met me back at the bathroom. He looked me square in the eye and said, "Well Cyndi, this is usually where I would tell my girls that there is an escape route because the bathroom in the churches are near the door, but since we are in the back of the house I am afraid you are stuck," and then we both laughed. He walked me out into the living room where I met my own knight in shining armor to start my own legacy - built on love and stubbornness.