My Paw Paw, Glyndell Wilbert Ebarb, passed away Wednesday night. Sorrow, grief and heartbreak come in waves, but I feel so fortunate. He was a part of my life for over 31 years and I can’t think of him without smiling.
He taught me about hard work. He would come for a visit and find jobs around the house. Once he picked up over a hundred small sticks in my back yard while I was at work. When I thanked him, he said, “Well, there are probably a hundred more out there.”
Education is the key. The last thing I remember him saying to me in person was about school. He told my daughter, “You do well in school, then- you can do anything.” Growing up, he always pushed me to do well in school, but more importantly he allowed me to view my education as an opportunity that could open doors to a new world. As a coach, teacher and principal, I know he showed so many the importance of education.
Everybody looks like somebody in Vinton. Never did we make it through an episode of Jeopardy without a contestant looking like “old so & so” was mentioned. Vinton is a small town, but according to him was full of doppelgangers.
He taught me how to be a smart ass. This is a skill that I continue to hone to this day. Paw Paw was one of the masters. Sometimes I didn’t know whether to keep a straight face or laugh. He once sent me $10 when I didn’t visit and promised to send $20 if I skipped the next visit. I can’t elaborate on this one too much because I don’t want to give any secrets away. Just know, I was taught by the best.
I could count on him for about anything. If I brought laundry, I could count on him to wash, dry and fold it for me. If one of my cousins needed to be picked up from school, he would be there- 20 minutes early. Mammy could count on him bringing her a cup of coffee in bed. There was never a time he let me down.
He taught me how to relax. Many an afternoon I spent sitting with him on the front porch in a rocking chair. He would sit and wave to folks going by. He didn’t have an agenda, a phone or a plan. He was out there to sit. The older I get, I realize what an important thing he was doing out there on that rocker.
Man, could he tell a story. Those hand gestures, the pause, the grin on his face and the chuckle after the conclusion. His stories held your attention. Whether they were about the elephants in the backyard one morning, or the tamale set-up where he had me thinking I was eating dog, he kept you enthralled.
He recognized the importance of a nickname. I’ve had a few; Spook, Spookero, That Bruce Slusher Looking Outfit and the nickname I earned, Smart Ass. There were the Old Goats, the Snake and Useless to name a few.
This remark after his obituary sums it up pretty well. My uncle, Daryl Slusher writes, “From the time I spent with Glyn, and from listening to his children talk about him, I remember him as a man of integrity, accompanied by a good sense of humor. When I think about Glyn’s life…what comes to mind is that Glyn was extraordinary in the way that he took on responsibilities — responsibilities for his community like being a teacher, a coach and a principal. He accepted responsibility and he faithfully executed his responsibilities. He applied the principle of living up to his responsibilities in his personal life as well. My prayers go out to Margaret, and Melissa and the whole family. He has left a lot behind for many people to cherish.”
That’s why I feel fortunate. Paw Paw was a fine example of everything he stood for and I am so incredibly grateful I got to be a part of his amazing life.
Tomorrow afternoon in Vinton, Louisiana, tons of people will gather to memorialize him. Stories will be passed around; tears will be shed and there will undoubtedly be laughing as well. Sadly, I cannot be there in person to celebrate him. Instead, I will sit on the front porch in my rocking chair eating a bologna sandwich and thinking about my Paw Paw.
Epitaph on my Own Friend…
An honest man here lies at rest,
As e’er God with His image blest:
The friend of man, the friend of truth;
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d:
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.
Glyndell Wilbert Ebarb
Mr. Ebarb, Glyn, GW, Coach, Principal,
Sonny Boy, Paw Paw
One of a kind