Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Microstory 1073: George Highfill

I’m taking a quick break from this series to talk about a man I once knew. My grandfather, George Benham Highfill, pictured here, died yesterday. He was 26 days from turning 94. I know his birthday well, because I share it with him. He is survived by a wife of 69 years, four children, and several grandchildren, including my sister. He took ill last week after battling a multitude of health issues for the last few years, and it started looking like he wasn’t going to last very long. I went by his apartment nearly every day since to visit, but he wasn’t always lucid. In his mind, he was either a superintendent in central Kansas, or a sailor in the Second Great War. If you’ve read any of my salmonverse stories, where it’s fairly obvious I’ve written myself into the narrative, now you know why I chose to call myself The Superintendent. It’s perfect, because while it may sound like a king, or some other kind of leader, that’s not really what it means. Superintendents are there to help, and fix problems. They are a singular voice of order in a chaotic microcosm of differing points of view, and contradictory agendas. They make sure everyone is heard, and has everything they need. Superintendents protect. In this way, they’re very much like Viola Woods, and what she stood for. My grandfather was an actual superintendent of schools, and as you can imagine, this kept him quite busy. So when it was time for him to go, because he was in so much pain, it was difficult for him to let go, because he thought he had too much work yet to complete. Yesterday evening, I drove to his apartment, where I found him asleep, and unable to wake up. I gave him a hug, whispered a goodbye, and that was the last time I saw him alive. A few hours later, I got the call, and I returned to help make arrangements with my family. Services will not be held until July, specifically so that my sister will be able to attend. He was very clear on his wishes, which makes sense, because the most important thing to him was his family. I’m going to miss you, Gandaddy.

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