My grandfather Ozell died in November 2006, six months after a devastating stroke. The doctors were amazed by his recovery. They told us, “He has a large brain.” Even in our grief, we felt proud to be associated with such an amazing man and his impressive brain.
Grandaddy and his large brain fought hard for those six months, but the fight took its toll. He passed away peacefully with his wife, three daughters, and many brothers and sisters by his side. It's been a year and a half, and I still miss him terribly.
I saw Grandaddy for the last time in the hospital a few weeks before he died. We ate sweet potato pie and talked about the usual (Chicago, Auburn football, eggs) and the more unusual (his early years before his daddy died, his favorite horse, getting into trouble with his brothers, getting into trouble with friends). He was feeling his mortality and needed to talk about his life, as well as our future. He wanted to make sure we were all going to take care of each other and be happy.
Grandaddy was certain that the key to happiness and comfort was having three daughters. One or two would not be enough. Three was just right. He was so thankful to have three smart, strong daughters (my mother and her sisters) taking care of him and my grandmother in their time of need.
As I was leaving, he said to me, "You'd better get started on those three little girls."
A few months later, shortly after what would have been Grandaddy's 80th birthday, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I immediately suspected that he had orchestrated this somehow. When I learned I was having a girl, I knew for certain.
Zella, named for her great-grandaddy Ozell, was born in September 2007. I know Grandaddy is watching over me and his great-granddaughter - and hoping for two more.