The Late Burkette Greene

Today, May 1, 2021, would've been my grandfather's birthday if he had lived. He was born on May 1, 1910 and died on February 7, 1998 at the age of eighty-seven. He lived in Sneedville, Tennessee. His name was Burkette Greene. He was sixty-one when I was born.

May grandmother's name was Laura and she and Papaw had six kids. Sadly, the youngest of the six kids died when he was a month old. His name was Burkette Greene Junior. Their five other kids were/are Ina Mae, Everette, James, Norman and Agnes who was my mom. Sadly, Mom, Norman and Ina Mae are deceased.

Papaw used to tell Mamaw that when he died, she could find another man. But Mamaw died forty-one years before Papaw. She died in 1957 from cancer. She died fourteen years before I was born. Mom was only eight years old at the time.

Papaw eventually married again but the reason why he remarried was so that his kids could have a mother. The marriage failed. They got a divorce after just eighteen months. Even though they divorced, his ex-wife kept his last name.

Sadly, Mom disliked Papaw because he was less than kind to her on a few occasions. She thought that he didn't care about her but I believe that he did. When Mom was expecting me, I was born after ten months instead of nine. When I wasn't born after nine months, Papaw got worried. Dad worked and Mom spent every day alone with my brother. Papaw moved in with Mom and Dad and lived with them until I was born. He went to the hospital with them when I was born, and he and Dad were looking at me at the nursery.

I remember something that happened when I was about five years old. Papaw had a radio that I liked. I asked him if I could have the radio. He said that he couldn't let me have that radio, but he didn't want me to go home empty handed. He gave me another radio. That was an act of kindness that I've never forgotten.

Sadly, Papaw had a stroke in 1986 and because of the stroke, he lost the ability to talk. Norman lived with Papaw. Norman asked Papaw if it would be okay for him to give me a coke and a candy bar. Papaw couldn't talk but he started hollering and I knew what he was trying to say. He was trying to tell Norman that of course it was okay to give me a coke and a candy bar. Sadly, Norman died just three years after Papaw. Norman died in 2001 from lung cancer.

Papaw never got much schooling and sadly, he couldn't read or write. He learned how to spell his name but that was it.  Papaw did some good things and some bad things. I haven't mentioned any of the bad things because I don't want people to judge him. He was my Papaw and I loved him.


More by :  Randy Johnson

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