My maternal grandfather, Fred Melton Strother, would have turned 100 years old today. He lived a good life, and he was and always will be one of my best friends. Even when I was really young, he couldn't wait to pick me up and take me with him all over. He took me places and showed me things that are too numerous to recount them all. We used to just go places just to go places. Whether it was to the quarry to watch them blast that day, or just to stop by a spring he knew about since it had such good water.
He almost never treated me like a child, just as someone he loved and trusted. If we went to a cattle auction he let me, a 10 year old, bid on livestock and decide how high we would go. I had a shotgun at that age too, and he'd send me down to the creek next to the bottom lands to kill a couple of squirrels so Maw Maw could make dumplings with them.
From the time I was 6 or so, he would have me driving the tractor in 1st gear low, hauling a trailer so they could walk along behind it and throw the bales of hay up on it. He'd always try to get me to pick up a bale of hay, and of course I couldn't pick it up until I was about 14. From then on I didn't get to drive the tractor when they were bailing hay any more. I was walking behind the trailer throwing them up on it. Heh.
I know people that knew him either loved him or hated him, but I don't think anyone could ask for a better grandfather than him. He's been gone for 14 years now, but I still miss him so much it hurts. I was lucky enough to have all four of my grandparents until he passed away and they were all very special to me. Granddaddy was different though. My parents never had to ask him if I could stay with them. If anything, they had to make me come home, which disappointed both of us usually.
He lived his life exactly the way he wanted, which is the most important lesson I learned from him. He survived a bout of colon cancer, and didn't have his boys with him when he was buried. I hope to take mine with me, even if they're in a pickle jar tucked under my arm.