The Smartest Man I’ve Ever Known

photo taken by Suzanne Baldwin, age 9
T. Edgar Punch (photo taken by Suzanne Baldwin, age 9)

I visited a friend of mine this past Saturday, whom I had not seen in over 20 years.  We were in high school and at college together.  She lives about an hour and a half west and north of here.  When I left my friend’s house on Saturday, I was feeling nostalgic.  No surprises there.  I took the Hwy 127 exit off of I40 and decided to go home by way of my childhood.  I guess I covered 37 miles of Lincoln County, starting near Vale and ending at the McGuire dam.  I stopped and took photographs along the way.

One of the places I stopped was the house near Vale where my Pappaw Punch lived.  I am writing a poem about what I saw there, how it made me feel.  As I think about him – about all my grandparents, really – it makes me even more embarrassed about the assumptions I find myself making about others.  I, of all people, really should know better.

My mother’s father was a trenchant observer of people; he was wise, and he was gentle.  I loved him and he loved me.  I wish I were more like him.  I wish I had bought him some Moravian cookies in Old Salem when I was in law school at Wake Forest, and taken them to him.  As far as I can recall, that is the only thing he ever asked me to do for him, and I didn’t do it, but he didn’t hold that against me.  He just loved me.  Continue reading “The Smartest Man I’ve Ever Known”