Always Faithful

The girls in the family called him “Granddaddy.” The fellas called him “Pop.” And even if he hadn’t been a US Marine and served in WWII, he still would’ve been our hero.

I was blessed to know my mother’s parents very well. They both lived until I was in my twenties and I have always said that they helped raised me. And they did. It was their profound wisdom and deep love that was “home” to us even through the nomadic years of living in a Methodist preacher’s home. Grandmama was the one who taught me how to be a lady—to be full of grace and to be nurturing. Granddaddy was the one who taught me to laugh, to tell stories, to do hard-and-honest work often, and to praise others as frequently as possible. They are often the “conscience” I hear in my head as I traverse my life. Even right this moment, I can hear my Granddaddy’s voice saying any one of a million little sayings that he had—sometimes in a gruff voice, which would often break off into laughter, which would progress to tears as he cracked himself up.

The week before I made my cross-country move, I spent several days at my grandparents’ old house with Mama. I knew it would be a while before I would be back and so as I walked through the well-worn rooms, I tried to absorb the love, the wisdom, and the memories. The first night there, as I prepared for bed, my eyes fell on an old journal my grandparents had kept. They took turns writing in it about the goings-on of the family—and I think that all of us were invited to read it and write in it at times. I flipped it open and saw my painstaking eight-year-old cursive next to my grandmother’s elegant script and my grandfather’s scratchy scrawl. And I stepped back into time. And I heard their voices again—that loving wisdom that has guided me my whole life. (I think I hear the voice of God speaking through them…)

I read my Grandmother’s words about how courageous and talented I am—two things I’ve always struggled to believe about me, but that she always did. And when I read her words, I almost believed them, too.

I read my Grandfather’s words about where we had come from—the love, the pain, and the struggle, but most of all, the love. I read the story of how he had met Grandmama—about whom he said, “I loved her before she was born and have loved her ever since.” And about how proud he was of his family for loving each other so well, but also his admonishment to continue to love each other:

“These things made me and Mother so happy to see our family share the finer things they have with each other. That is the way it should be – Children, love one another.”

That love. That wisdom. How could he be anything but a hero to me? And how could I do anything but try to live up to that admonishment and that example that he and my grandmother set?

Sunday is Veterans Day and my granddaddy is my favorite veteran. My personal hero. I will always be grateful for him. Before I was even born, he was fighting for me—and was wounded on Okinawa. It’s a sobering thought that a couple of inches different and I wouldn’t be here writing to you today…

Granddaddy didn’t like to talk about the war, but he was so proud to have been a Marine. “One of Uncle Sam’s Finest,” he would say, with pride in his eyes. He had little flags tucked all over his house—poked into potted plants and the edges of picture frames. And he would never abide disrespect of the country, the flag, the pledge of allegiance, or the national anthem. I still never hear the national anthem that I don’t tear up. And I never hear the Marine Corps Hymn (From the Halls of Montezuma) that I don’t stand up–it’s the least I can do after what they’ve done for me.

Yes, he was my hero. Still is. I’m proud to be an American. And I’m proud to carry a bit of the Staton heritage—the love and the wisdom—inside of me.

Happy Veterans Day and Happy Birthday, US Marine Corps – from Jesse Staton’s granddaughter – Semper Fidelis!

** Note ** Thanks to my brother, Christopher, for the picture up top. The handsome fella kneeling on the front left with the hat pulled low is our Granddaddy, Jesse Staton, Sr – before he was our Granddaddy. This picture was taken on Guadalcanal during WWII.

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Barbara Capps says:

    You too Sarah have a wonderful Heritage like I do.. Mine is with the Navy.. My Daddy was also in WWII.. He served in Hawaii..My daddy was my Hero.. I didn’t know either of my Granddaddys, but both of them were in WWI I was told.. My mothers daddy died at a very young age because he was exposed to some sort of gas chemical, and he ended up with lung cancer because of it.. My Granddaddy Callihan was shot in the line of duty and a Special Deputy for Fayetteville.. When Herman was in the Navy the Marines were the Gate Guards when we would go on base.. I am proud to have such a Heritage…I am with you Happy Veterans Day..and Happy Birthday to the Marines. Thanks for the Blog as usual Sista Sarah.

  2. Such a beautiful tribute to your grandfather! Made me misty eyed!!

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Barbara, one day, I want to get a record of the military heritage in my family. I know my other granddaddy was in the Navy and I had uncles and great-uncles on both sides who served. Yes, we have wonderful heritage!

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Cari, since you adopted me into your family, I hope this is the kind of love I bring to share with you all. *hugs*

  5. Awwwww……yes you do! So glad to include you as a part of our family here now!!

  6. Aw, Sarah..this was a beautiful and touching tribute to your Grandparents…..what a heritage. I too, have family members who served and I am thankful for them to this day. My parents grafted into me, a great love for our country and I had a first grade teacher that taught us every military song every written I think. I get chills when I hear all those songs, and yes especially the Marine Corp Hymn…..Loved this.

  7. Papa Bear (The Preacher) says:

    Sarah, this was very moving and reminded me of how much our family means to me as I grow older. Yes, indeed, your grandparents were a great inspiration, not only to you, but to me as well. While I had a great mother who gave me lots of encouragement, my father, though a veteran of WWII had some deep scares that never healed and so he used alcohol to try to cover them up. Pop became my hero too, as he loved me inspite of many imperfections. I tried to be the best son-in-law and honor him in every thing I did. Your mother and I, too miss them everyday. Thanks for reminding us of our heros. LOVE

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    Lori, thank you for sharing! I’m so glad our families raised us this way and that we have this heritage!

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Daddy, I remember that Granddaddy Salter was a veteran. I remember seeing a picture of him in uniform somewhere along the line. Someday, I’d like to get a list of everyone on both sides of the family who served and what branch they served in. We have a lot of heroes in our family. :-)

  10. What a beautiful legacy, Sarah. Thanks for this beautiful post. Love you.

  11. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, Joell! I happen to know that your family has a pretty fantastic legacy, too. :-) Love you, too!

  12. Indeed we do, Sarah…including the nomadic Methodist preacher one! LOL

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