In a childhood full of dysfunction and constant upheaval there was one man who, for a brief time, gave me much needed love and protection. At that time, I was young enough to not really understand the intimate details of our family problems, but fortunately, I was old enough to retain some of the memories of this man. Charles Wogan, my grandfather on my father’s side, would be a rare stabilizing force in my early childhood. While I don’t remember his face, I somehow have a inner memory of kind eyes. My favorite and most vivid memories were the daily walks he and I shared. We always walked the same route and crossed over the same little creek where he would always stop and hoist me up to sit on edge of the cement barrier. We would linger there, mostly in silence, as we watched the water trickle under the bridge, until he’d finally say, “Well, it’s almost dark. Better git before you grandmother starts to worry.”
I don’t remember exact details but at the age of five, I lost the one person in my life, at that time, who I believed truly loved me. He died of a heart attack, ironically while he was in the hospital recovering from what I believe had been some sort of heart episode.
A few days ago, I took an unplanned road trip to my hometown and found myself standing at his grave. While I can vividly picture my grandmother and the last time I saw her, it isn’t my memories of her that draw me here. It’s the memory of a man who gave hope and love to a little girl who felt abandoned and unworthy. The only adult in my early childhood who seemed to genuinely take an interest in my welfare and looked out for me while he could. I don’t visit often but it always leaves me feeling humbled and blessed to have had him in my life.