A letter to my Papaw, rest in peace


Dear Papaw,

We were never ones to have serious conversations, were we? We liked arguing about sports and giving each other a hard time. We were expert jokesters and pranksters. You’d kid with me that I couldn’t possibly be a diehard Indiana Hoosier fan because I was born in Kentucky—my deepest, darkest secret.

“The nearest hospital was in Louisville across the river and Indiana border!” I’d exclaim.

It didn’t matter. I had committed the unpardonable sin. Of birth.

Some of my fondest memories involve watching college basketball with you during the holidays. We’d relax in the basement as Grandma brought us food and refilled our glasses with Coca-Cola, you in your cloth, navy recliner, and me in my beige, leather recliner. We had everything we needed. Food. Drink. Basketball. And one another. I’m sure we went weekends without even leaving the basement.

No matter what game we watched, you always ended up talking about Bob Knight. He was your hero and borderline obsession. You read all his books, and you could even quote them. After several years of listening to you (and watching the Hoosiers fall apart under two separate coaches), Bob Knight became one of my favorite coaches, too. I have you to thank for that.

I remember calling you on July 31, 2013—the day before you died.

You were in a hospital in Indianapolis dealing with an array of heart complications, and I was down in Charlotte; it was a Wednesday and I was working.