I grew up 5 doors down from my grandfather, Grandchubby, as I affectionately called him. Dr. “Chubby” Andrews, as everyone else knew him, was a giant of a man. He had a deep and probing faith, a hearty laugh, an enormous family, and a grand appetite for play. He worked hard. He played even harder.
One of the great gifts he gave me was an invitation.
One of the great gifts he gave me was an invitation. It was a constant invitation, not a once in my boyhood invitation. The invitations often sounded something like this: “I’m going duck hunting at Beaver Dam in the morning, Drew. Would you like to go with me?” He would ask in a deep and aristocratic Memphis drawl. Before I could even get my affirmative answer in he would continue, “well be ready at a quarter past four and I’ll be by to pick you up.”
My heart would race at the thought that he wanted me, even as a boy of eleven or twelve, to be a part of his world. I would be ready five minutes early, covered head to toe in camouflage, layered with long johns, holding my Winchester 20 gauge as proud as possible. We drove down highway 61 in the early morning darkness while he told stories of hunts long past, friends come and friends gone. He told stories of dating and marrying his lovely Margery Jane, (Grandmarge to me), and then he would tell of the goodness and blessings of God in his life.
After a while, we pulled up to the dock, got in the duck boat and began paddling. Grandchubby in the back, me up front trying to make use of myself. He navigated the dark trail through cypress trees until we arrived at the hand made duck blind. After settling in, we would load our guns and wait as the slightest hint of morning would start to cross the horizon. Then the hours would slowly go by as we called, shot, paddled to pick up ducks, all while he taught me the finer points of the craft of duckhunting, a craft at which he was one of the world’s finest. After a hopefully successful shoot, we would paddle out and drive to the Blue and White Cafe and eat the finest biscuits, bacon, and eggs I’ve ever put in my mouth. Then we drove home, talked of the days’ adventures and promised to have another soon.
There is great power in an invitation, to see a man working hard at the things he loves, to find pleasure in the gifts of God.
Grandchubby invited me in to this ritual more times than I can count. There were others as well. He took me bream fishing in the heat of the summer, taught me swing a golf club at Overton Park municipal course, and chatted with me for hours on end while he did taxidermy in his garage before I had to run home for dinner or homework. There is great power in an invitation, to see a man working hard at the things he loves, to find pleasure in the gifts of God. I thought I was learning to shoot a duck, but I was actually learning far more valuable lessons about friendship, fatherhood, creation, and the power of a great story. I am forever indebted to Grandchubby for his invitation.
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