To give a little intro, I, along with another very dear friend, am working with a company to write a book in 100 days. It is a challenge to say the least, in fact it’s called “write a book in 100 day challenge”. I decided non-fiction would be my route, to write about a man who continues to be a source of strength and grace in my life. Here’s a preview, I hope you’ll share comments with your thoughts.
He’s had salt and pepper hair my whole life and a voice that carries deep and smooth, the way a river carries a current. So gentle and so kind. Grover’s face has a crease for every hour of work he spent plowing fields and waking up before the sun, for every tragedy that engulfed his childhood and for every joy that washed it all away. He has hands that are large with crooked fingers that tell the stories of his life, a life spent herding cattle, raising chickens, shaking hands with men that were men, and playing the piano at the church singings. He is tall, stretching up to 6 ft 5 with a set of knees that carry the wear and tear of miles walked on land that he and his family harvested, ran cross country and played basketball, but feet so flat that the U.S. Navy wouldn’t take him. He can laugh, boy can he laugh. A laugh that is outrageously contagious and dares you to smile. He is always inviting someone to come and sit a spell and listen, listen to his stories, the dozens that there are, full of his family history, his life, and heaven. He married a city girl and much to their surprise, despite the drastic differences in their upbringings, they had a whole lot more in common than they realized. That city girl gave him three daughters, I being their last and the most like him. He sacrificed and scrapped, worked and sweated, invented, tried, failed, succeeded and would do it all over again if he could. He swears he will never retire and I believe him, because I’ve never in my life known a man who dreams as much as he dares to do and never lets fear tell him no.
The challenge in telling his story, the story of Grover Plunkett and the influential life he lived and continues to live, is doing it right… doing it well… doing it justice. I know my mother would correct if I over exaggerate a story for betterment of telling it, reminding me that I am just like him in that way. I’m not sure I’ve ever respected a man the way I’ve always respected him. Not so much because of his goodness or hard work, but because of his fight to be who he always dreamed of being and never letting his wife, children, or anyone else in his life for that matter, believe that they weren’t capable of that same achievement. His story is valuable and worthy of telling how a boy from a North Alabama farming community never let go of the roots that raised him or the place his heart always calls home.
One day while he was plowing fields on his Grandpa’s land, a black Mercedes Benz sped down the dirt road that ran alongside the land he plowed and came to a dead stop. A man in a fancy suit and slicked back hair stepped out while the dust tried to settle around him. My Daddy, a teenager at the time, shut off the tractor and hopped down to see what this stranger may be looking for.
“You lost, sir?” my Dad asked the fancy man in a suit.
“I’m looking for Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Walker, you know where I could find them? Fancy man replied.
“Yes Sir, Mr. Fletcher lives about 5 miles behind where you came from and Walker lives down this road right here, ”as he pointed to the road they were standing on. ”I hope you find them.” My Dad finished.
“Thanks boy.” Fancy man said as he started back towards his car.
“Um sir”, my Dad began. The Fancy man looked towards him with a look of listening. My Daddy continued, “Mind me asking why you’re looking for these men?”
“I’m starting a business and I am looking for investors.” Fancy man replied.
“Well,” my Dad started back, with sweat beads dripping down his face from plowing all morning, “How much does someone need to have to invest in your business?”
Fancy man laughed and looked my Daddy square in the eyes, “You plow boys got nothin in your pockets but dreams.” He walked back to his fancy car, the door slammed, and that fancy man disappeared into a cloud of dust, leaving my Daddy to stand and watch his car drive away, kicking back a dust of shame that engulfed him.
Daddy says he didn’t say anything at all when that hateful comment came from Fancy Man’s mouth. “I just kind of stood there in shock, I guess” he told me once. “But If I have learned anything in my life is that you can’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself. If you start doing something like that it’ll kill ya. I couldn’t go killing myself over some fancy man’s words.”
I dare say, the dreams in his pockets took him beyond what he could have ever imagined, giving him a life he never dreamed of having and maybe never knew he wanted. I can tell you one thing, a penniless pocket doesn’t hinder a man’s ability to move forward, only a empty brain and a hollow heart can stop a man. My Daddy’s brain is full of wisdom, his heart full of compassion, and his pockets, well I sure am glad they have always been full of dreams.