Tuesday, April 03, 2012
My grandfather, Paul Fred Bohanon, died Friday in Georgia. Almost eight hours away, I couldn't make it back for his funeral today, and it's depressing. All my childhood, he was a mythic figure, a WWII veteran, a businessman, an alcoholic, a father, and so forth. When I was maybe ten, he allowed me to drive old trucks around Chickamauga, Georgia. Motorcycles, too. The prologue of my memoir is about him, or at least about the very certain odds of danger's lottery: sooner or later our frailty is revealed, often mercilessly. A year after I broke my neck, Rip, my grandfather as he was just about universally known, was found in the floor of his kitchen, a massive stroke having detonated within his brain. He could no longer speak, except to say Goddammit, and for twenty five years that was his word for the world. Along the way, he lost both legs, amputated due to gangrene, stole his son's truck and drove it to Florida - I was living in Tuscaloosa when that news came in, that he'd disappeared, and what could we do but ruefully laugh - and much that there's no need to recount here. This brief note does him an injustice, conveying no real hint of the wildman he had been all his life. But, in many ways I think I became a writer because of him, at least in part. I owe him this mindfulness, tonight, far away.