When I was a kid and I would say, “Papaw, I am hungry,” my Papaw would say “I have seen whole families like that.” My Papaw was a walking encyclopedia of old sayings and I love most of them but when I was a kid I never like this one very much. He used it all the time. Papaw I’m thirsty. “I have seen whole families like that.” Papaw I need some money. “I have seen whole families like that.” Papaw I need a new fishing pole. “I have seen whole families like that.” This little old saying was the ultimate kid block. That saying was my Papaw’s way of telling you that you didn’t really need that and you can make do without it. He was not being unkind; he never had much money and he wanted us kids to understand the difference in wants and needs. If Papaw got you a Safeway soda water and a moon pie for a fishing trip it was a big deal. Most of the time before you got your moon pie and a trip to the pond there was work to be done and my Papaw never worried about child labor laws. We built fence, plowed fields, fed hogs, bailed hay and so on and so forth.
Here is the thing; every one of my Papaw’s grandkids will tell you that Papaw Warford spoiled all of us rotten. He spoiled us with his time, his attention and his unwavering support. When it came to his grandkids Papaw Warford was the most easygoing man I have ever known. It didn’t matter what you did Papaw was okay with it as long as you were doing the best you could. If the field was plowed a little crooked he wasn’t worried about it. I remember looking at a field I had plowed one time and it was a mess. All Papaw said was “Lloyd that lower end of the field is a little catawampus but I think we can make it work.” On another occasion one of my cousins, Shane Warford, ran the tractor into a row of fence. Papaw said “Shane, you need to be more careful next time” and that was the end of it. There was fence to repair and nothing else needed to be said.
I now have an fourteen year old son, Noah. Of all of my Papaw’s sayings the one I hear coming out of my mouth the most is “I have seen whole families like that.” I don’t think Noah appreciates that saying any more than I did when I was a kid but I know he will someday when he has a son of his own.