A child of God, a son, a brother, a cousin, a friend, an uncle, a husband, a father. Tom Conway was a man in full. He was many things throughout his life. But, to those of us standing here now, he was Grandaddy.
Ever since I can remember, summertime meant Grandmama and Grandaddy. It was the same for all of us: we didn't go away to camp; we went to Grandmama and Grandaddy's. Many of you gathered here today may remember those summer visits. To say that our summers were fun would be a tremendous understatement. In a word, they were magical. Grandmama and Grandaddy made it so.
First, a word about Grandmama. Our Grandmama is a strong woman, and she loves her grandchildren, and she wanted us for the summer. Think about that statement for a moment. She wanted us - and in those days, there were just five of us - for the summer. There was no question of where would we all sleep, or bathe, or what would we eat, or however would they corral all of those children and maintain their sanity. They just did it. And to this day, it is lasting bond we all share.
It would be easy to say that Grandmama was the one who made it work; and she did. But the secret we can share today is this: so did Grandaddy. It was hard to figure who had more fun during our summer visits. To our parents' great surprise and delight, Grandaddy was very involved with all of us. No matter how many years go by, the fabric of our lives is woven on memories of weekly trips to Aunt Frankie's, with Grandaddy stuffing our bags full of even more candy; Friday night trips to McDonald's for supper; re-naming the Seven Sisters during every trip to Greenville; walks in the pasture to pick wild blackberries; change for a cold soda pop from the Coke machine at Uncle Max's sawmill; picking crabapples from the tree; eating watermelon on the back porch; doodlebugs; roly poly houses; pepper soupy; fishing trips where Micah always caught more fish; tape recorded snores that were played back during supper - he always denied those snores, but he laughed all the same; rides in the purple International - no car seats or seat belts necessary; trips on the "Bug"; and so many more that are so personal and precious to all of us.
Forty years with a Grandaddy whose lasting legacy is a strong family that will pass on to our children the love of life, nature, family and God.