to my pepaw

memaw’s having a hard time.

i went to visit her tonight in the rehab center,

and i took three things with me.

1)  a picture of you and her that usually sits on my piano (once your piano, once my mother’s piano)

2)  a copy of the bible – a king james version also translated into yoruba.

3)  one of your handkerchiefs.

i still miss you.

i miss you all the time,

every day, i miss you.

and i get sad,

because if i miss you so much that

i cannot speak of you without ending up a sobbing man,

i cannot imagine how memaw must miss you,


i showed her the picture of you two, and she said

‘that was so long ago.’

and she’s right, it was.

i read to her some psalms.

i cried a lot, but it was dark and i’m not sure she could tell.

i was wearing a superman shirt because i do that kind of thing, and i still cried.

i gave her your handkerchief,

and she held it tightly as i read to her.

and, i admit, i’m not quite sure she understood it was yours,

that when i would hold that handkerchief, it was like i was holding you,

and i hope she feels the same way,


i hope you are with her, now.

i hope she feels your presence.

i hate that i wasn’t nearby when you had your stroke, and i’m so sorry.

i’m also sorry for almost burning down your house, if we’re just getting things in the open.

i really miss you, lloyd houston.

my, what a name, lloyd houston.

you would have loved scarlett.  she’s definitely a neil.  she’s beautiful and has your name which means you have hers, too.

anyway, i’m rambling in a semi-public setting, because i’m gonna post this on the internet (don’t worry – it’s a generational thing.  you had baseball and a world war, i get websites and pop-up ads trying to get me to lose weight when i actually fill out this superman shirt so well that the nurses had me pose for pictures with them before i went to see memaw).

i love you, please take care of memaw tonight and forever, goodnight,

i miss you,

joel houston neil orr

ps:  i have a fox tattooed on my right arm, to symbolize scarlett, and i’ve convinced myself you would have pretended not to be sold on the idea while secretly loving it.  and now that i think about it, you remind me of a fox, too, clever, so quiet and confident.

pps:  you were my first best friend and my first true Love.  you taught me how to Love, first.

ppps:  i still miss you.

2 thoughts on “to my pepaw

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