Papa Lee

Today we are going to my Papa Lee’s 80th birthday party. As I have been making my dish to take to the potluck, I have been thinking about him and remembered a paper I wrote my freshman year of college. Due to my uber-organizational skills that drive my husband crazy at times, I still have that paper (along with every other piece of research and paper I wrote in college) and it was easy to find.

I don’t remember what the assignment was or what made me choose to write about my papa but I’m glad I did. You can read the paper below.

Kira Hamilton

ENG 1003-18

September 21, 1999

Papa Lee



I could always depend on my Papa Lee when I was growing up. To him his grandkids were one of the most important things in his life. Whenever one of us kids wanted to go to the candy store, he was right there to take us. He was also willing to take us wherever he was going. All of us grandkids have spent many days sitting at the local café with him, standing right beside him at the auction, or picking blackberries up and down the old dirt road he and Granny lived on. His favorite thing to do with the last two of his grandkids was to take them to see the camels at Panther Valley Ranch.


Papa Lee was not a big man. He was short and skinny with hunched over shoulders that tended to run in our family. I also never saw him without his mustache and only recently have I noticed the small brown streak in his mustache from his many years of smoking cigarettes.


My very first memories of Papa Lee are of him sitting in his usual chair with his legs crossed like a woman’s. He was always drinking a glass of “Papa Tea” with one hand and smoking a cigarette with the other. He also always had a smile on his face. Especially if he had one of his grandkids snuggled up in his lap. To this day I can still count on walking into his house and seeing that very same sight.


Papa was very proud of all his grandkids but since I was the oldest he tended to point out the things I did most often. I can remember him standing in the doorway of the gym when I would be playing basketball.


“Rebound, Sissy,” I would hear him yell at me. “Get a little bit tougher! Knock her down if she is going to play like that!”


No matter where I was on the court I could hear him yelling. I would just look up and give him a smile. Papa always smiled back and kept on yelling. After the game I always went over and talked to him.


“This is my oldest,” he would say every time to the men standing around him.


“Hi, Papa, how do you think we played?” I always asked.


“You played good, though you need to get a lot meaner.”


I heard this every time I saw him. It made me feel really good whenever he made those comments. I knew that he cared and that he wanted me to play my best.


There has been only one time when I’ve ever seen any kind of sadness in Papa’s face. It was the day of his mama’s funeral. I saw Papa Lee after the service started. He was sitting in the front of the funeral home with his head bowed as if he was praying. At the end of the service he got up and walked to the coffin to see his mother for one last time. As he turned to walk out I saw his face. He looked as if he were about to cry. Seeing this look on Papa’s face made me cry. I did not cry because Granny Hamilton had died, I didn’t even know her that well. I cried because my Papa was sad.


After the service, everything was back to normal. I walked outside the funeral home and found my Papa, Dad, Dad’s brothers, and my cousins outside talking and joking around. It was as if nothing had happened. No one thought any more of the funeral or the look on Papa’s face. Instead we went on being the family we were and before the day was over Papa had made plans to take the youngest of his grandkids to Panther Valley Ranch the very next day to see the camels.






As a grown woman, I see many things in this essay I would change. Some changes are strictly format as this was written during my first semester of my freshman year and my writing was obviously that of a teenager. Mostly though I would make changes because 16 years have passed since I wrote it and so much has happened since.  I have watched my cousins grow up and watched Papa do the exact same things with them. I have seen the pride and joy on his face as each of his great-grandchildren have been born. I have seen the hurt and worry in his eyes when my Granny was in a car accident that almost took her from us. And I have seen him go from a man who she always took care of to a man who took care of her when she couldn’t. No, he’s not perfect. He can be mean as a snake when necessary and he is set in his ways but aren’t we all.


Today I am very happy to be celebrating his 80th birthday.

Out of My Comfort Zone

There are a few things you should know about me. First, I am not an outgoing person. In any new situation I am going to be standing back, scoping out the situation, trying to determine where/if I may fit into this circumstance. Second, I’m a very quiet person. If I am not passionate about a subject or if I do not believe I can speak intelligently about a subject, I’m not going to speak. I also have trouble making small talk with people. I mostly feel awkward and that I don’t have much interesting to say. Third, I am a homebody and I really do not like going anywhere without my husband.  Fourth, despite my shyness, I seem to be a natural born leader. Maybe it’s because I was the first born (child and grandchild), maybe it’s because I’ve always been taught there is nothing I cannot do or maybe it’s because I like to be in control and just get things done.  I don’t know, I’m not loud or domineering but I always seem to be placed in positions where I take the lead and start making decisions.

That being said, I was pushed way out of my comfort zone this weekend. I have been given the opportunity to participate in the Leadership Hot Springs program in my hometown. (If you want to know more about this program, click here: The participants in the program are required to attend an overnight retreat. That’s right, I had to go to an overnight retreat with 20 people I did not know. The only time most of us had ever met was at a short 1 hour orientation a few weeks ago, now we were sleeping within a few feet of one another (and had 15 women sharing 2 bathrooms).

I have been extremely excited about the opportunity to participate in the program but I was not excited about this retreat. Was I going to have anything in common with anyone? Would I be able to come out of my shell enough to get to know people? What will we be expected to do?

Let me just tell you, I had the best time. I quickly realized as we were loading the bus (a big yellow school bus) that everyone was just as nervous as I was. There was also a good mix of people, some quiet like me, some outspoken, some just ready to have fun. Upon our arrival, the camp staff quickly got us moving with different team building activities. We solved problems together, worked up a sweat together and faced fears together (anyone else want to be 35 feet in the air?). Leadership Hot Springs Class XXIX started coming together.

I sit here now, back in the comfort of my own home, and I am so glad I did not chicken out. I stretched myself, I learned more about myself (I am a Lion) and I can’t wait for the next challenge this program sets before me.

The County Fair…A Love/Hate Relationship

Tonight my family went to the Garland County Fair. We do not go to the fair every year. To be honest, most years I try my best to avoid it. I do not like chasing my kids in crowds, dirt, rickety rides, vendors yelling at me, and over priced games. I know, I know, what kind of person am I. The county fair is just something you do.

Well, this year, we had to go and for a very good reason. My daughter entered a photograph she took in the Kid’s Creative Arts Photography Contest. She was so excited. Our neighbor, Susan, is a photographer and Macy loves to go “help” her take pictures when she sees her outside with her camera. Susan  was taking pictures this past spring and she let Macy try out the camera. She showed her how to focus it and everything. Well, the result was a great picture of a daffodil. Our neighbor even printed the picture and told us how to enter it in the fair. And guess what, Macy won 1st place and Best of Show in her age division!!!!!

So, we had to go to the fair.

The kids were super excited. It probably didn’t help that we couldn’t go until Thursday night. The kids spent all week asking when we get to go and what we get to do when we get there. (It sounds like I never let them have any fun.) Thank goodness Big Daddy and Memaw wanted to go with us. There is nothing like three kids pulling you in three different directions, we needed the extra hands.

Logan: “Mom, we’re wasting time, I want to play the games!”, “Mom, why can’t I ride any rides?”, “Mom, what do you think about Pokémon?”

Macy: “Let’s go see my picture!” “What kind of soap is this?” (bar soap in the bathroom), “I want to see the animals!”, “I’m not going in there, I want to see the animals!”, “I want a balloon!”, “Take me to the games!”, “Can we ride a ride if we’ve ridden it before?”, “I don’t want to play this game”, “It’s not fair, Logan played more games”

Noah: “I want to see the animals”, “Take me to the cows”, “Is that a girl or a boy goat?”, “I’m thirsty!”, “I need to potty!”, “I want to play that game!” “I don’t want this balloon anymore.”

In the end, we saw the animals, admired Macy’s picture, played a few games, survived a couple of Macy fits, and WON 2 GOLDFISH!

I’ll admit, I had fun. Despite the dirt, crowds, vendors & over priced games.

A Clean House, Yeah Right!

I’m here to say, the struggle is real. My house is never clean. Would I love to have someone clean it, yes. Have I done that, yes. I just discovered that I was cleaning it before that person arrived because I was so ashamed of how dirty it was.  Now just how ridiculous is that!?!?

I never knew how dirty a house could get until I had kids. Let me re-phrase that, until I had a houseful of kids. I used to think my house was a mess. I only wish it could look like that now. Back in the day, when it was just Johnny and I, newly married, getting used to “domestic” life of owning a house and having jobs, I used to spend every Saturday morning cleaning the house. I don’t mean just picking up, I mean top to bottom cleaning. I look back now and wonder what in the world I had to clean. Surely just the two of us didn’t make that much of a mess.

Several years later we had our first child. I look back now and laugh at some how crazy I was during those first couple of years of motherhood. I remember one day in particular. Johnny was working one Saturday and for some reason I had convinced myself that I needed to empty out, clean and reorganize all of my kitchen cabinets. However, I had a one year old running around. I thought to myself, how in the world am I going to get this done.? So, I called in reinforcements. My mom and dad came over and spent several hours playing with our son so that I could clean out my cabinets. I look back now and think of how silly that was. First, that I couldn’t do a chore and watch my child. Second, why in the world did I think I needed to reorganize my cabinets!?

Of course, with each child I learned to let certain things go. Each child brought a new dynamic to our home. My daughter would not leave my hip. I learned to cook and clean carrying her around everywhere. My youngest son was and still is a wrecking ball. He can destroy anything within just a few minutes of playing with it. I have been forced to adjust my demeanor to meet the demands placed in front of me. That means letting a few things go.

Today is Labor Day. We have spent the entire weekend at home, well mostly. I have been cleaning since I got home from work Friday night. The me of 10 years ago would have panicked at the crumbs under the table or dust on the television, or lets face it, the crusty peanut butter and jelly sandwich I stepped on today. What would that girl think of the woman I am today? How judgmental would I have been? At this moment I am sitting in the peacefulness of my back porch (well, almost peaceful, the kids are still yelling mom), and I am at ease knowing that the laundry is done, the kitchen is clean and the crumbs are off the floor. That dusty TV can wait, the Legos under the couch are not hurting anyone and  that closet that needs to be cleaned out will be there next weekend, it’s ok. If I’m lucky I’ll manage to keep the laundry caught up this week and the dishes will get done each night. If not, oh well, I’ll catch it up next Saturday. In the end, I really don’t care what the girl I was 10 years ago would have thought.

Today I Hid in the Bathroom

I know you have all been there. Any mother knows that sometimes you just need a few minutes of peace. Tonight was one of those nights. It’s been a busy, tiring day. It was filled with rearranging rooms, cleaning off porches and cutting down a tree. All of this with my three kids and my sweet nephew running around plus the in-laws.

So there I was, finishing baths (3rd of the day), picking up toys and doing laundry with my two youngest following my every step. They weren’t looking for a few seconds so I slipped into the bathroom and locked the door, (Feeling very thankful that the hubby fixed the lock a couple weeks ago). Finally, a few minutes of quiet. They don’t have to know that all I’m doing is checking the Yahoo headlines and Facebook.

I wish I could say I actually had some peace, however it only took about 30 seconds to hear two sets of feet running down the hall. Macy yelling “Where’s mom?”, Noah snickering “She’s in the bathroom.” Me thinking, I can deal with this a while, they can’t open that door. Macy yells “wait, I’ll get something to open it Noah!”.  Noah says “she’s at the sink!” What, how do they know that. How are those little eyes spying through the door?!? Then I hear it, the sound of the bobby pin in the door lock. Yep, Macy has seen me do it a few too many times. There goes my few minutes of peace. Pep talk to myself “suck it up butter cup, they need you.”