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December 20, 2023 Nonfiction


Cletus Crow

Eulogy photo

He was only Jack. Never daddy. He was Jack, not grandpa. He was Jack like knife. Jack like shit. Like what you’d use to lift the car before changing a tire. He was a drunk who called his son different animals depending on his mood. Bitch. Rat. You fuckin’ vulture.

But as a child, Jack wasn't Jack. He was called John. And John had a German Shepherd named Jack. Jack loved John. One day, Jack saw John getting switch-whipped. Jack bit the hand that dealt the blows, the hand belonging to John’s drunk mother. Minutes later, the dog received a bullet in the head. John found Jack under a trailer beside a pile of brains. Then John named himself Jack.

Jack grew up. He became a politician. He was good at lying. He had a son. His son was good at theatre, a different kind of lying. Jack said, "Hell naw, acting is for faggots. You’re gunna be a doctor…" 

Jack was also an experienced hunter. Jack took his son quail hunting every autumn. Looking down the barrel, Jack’s son had suicidal thoughts. He got help, became a doctor.

Jack once told me he'd burned a cross on his front lawn not because he was racist but because he hated Democrats. Jack took me fishing every summer. Jack never hit his grandkids, but he liked playing mind games. He said the burning cross was a legacy we’d carry on, or else.

Jack's son and I enjoyed stories about the hunts of Jack’s youth. How he killed a boar with a Bowie knife. How the boar had killed four dogs the next neighborhood over. How Jack became a hero. The boar rushed him. Jack stabbed its kidney. And Jack was fun to watch sports with. He predicted plays before they happened. He knew every detail about every player because TV was his best friend. 

When Jack's lungs began to fail, we put him in hospice. It was bittersweet but mostly sweet. Jack had dementia and couldn't walk. I stopped by to see him in October. We watched football, and Jack mumbled. He just mumbled the whole time. When I got up to leave, he said, "Wait… I need to tell you something… you're everything a young man should be… I've seen you with that cat of yours… that's how you know a man’s soul, by how he treats his animals… I've learned a lot being here… I have more sympathy now…"

I couldn’t decide whether to say fuck off, thank you, or “Well, I’m a faggot, grandpa. I never told you because I was afraid you’d kill me. But you can’t hurt anyone now. I love you. I’m in love with a drag queen. I’ll rub their feet after their set tonight. We’ll watch Succession and drink red wine. You will be there, too. A ghost without a sheet. Behind my eyes. I never called you Grandpa. Your son never called you daddy. But you’re my grandpa, and you’re my dad's daddy. Daddy. Grandpa. Papa. Grandpa Grandpa Grandpa, motherfucker. If someone like you tells a man he’s everything a man should be, does that mean he should change his life?”

I didn’t open my mouth. I just hugged him and left.