I love Starlight Mints. The round, red-and-white disks that are peppermint flavored are my jam. Typically if I see a bowl of them somewhere I grab a couple. Sonic and Chick-Fil-A know what’s up and give you one in your order on occasion. There are usually two kinds of mint eaters, the immediate break (and break your tooth) kind of person or the slow dissolve person. I am of the latter group.
Most of you may not know that my Papaw is rather ill at present. He fell last week, breaking his hip. He’s not lived the healthiest of lifestyles and has since suffered because of it. He’s had heart and lung issues throughout his life, which is linked to his smoking for many, many years. Papaw always had Starlight Mints in his shirt pocket in order to cover the cigarette smoke. He really thought he was hiding it from everyone with those. It makes me laugh a little to think about that now, years after he has quit smoking. As we all know, there’s really no hiding that from anyone.
But those peppermints always had a smoke-twinged flavoring to them. Anytime I see a peppermint I think of him and right now that’s making me smile. It’s a memory I have of him that during a time when his health seems to be continuously declining I am able to cling to with nostalgia and hope.
I think back on the embarrassing first day of high school when he came to pick me up, and instead of waiting in the truck, got out and came into high school asking everyone he saw where I was. I had seniors coming up to me saying “Your Papaw is looking for you.” Mortification for a 14 year old. Now I laugh, because that’s just how he is. Everyone knows him, and loves him. He’s a sweet man who lived hard early in life, and learned how to fight addictions of various shapes and sizes. He’s a man who I see regret decisions he made that ultimately affected his children, and even his grandchildren. But he’s a man who loves unconditionally, who always has a nickname for everyone, and taught me life is lived with friends.
He has taught me many things, especially what a grandfather’s love looks like. It’s time. He spent time with me growing up, waiting with me for the bus to come every morning as both my parents needed to be at work before I could get to school. His jokes are always really cheesy but he had a kid’s heart for laughter. I remember the year he got a Polaroid camera and commenced to taking photos of food for several dinners/holidays. He’d give them to my sister and tell her, “You go show your friends at college how well you eat at home.”
As I write this, we are unsure what the next few days look like for his health as they have called the family in this morning. The doctors aren’t being optimistic about his recovery. I would ask for you to keep my family in your prayers over these next few days as we know His hand is on my Papaw.