Hobart Carter Coffman was my father in law. He was kind, funny, a hard worker, an awesome cook and loved his grandchildren beyond words. Heaven is a better place with him there.
When I first met Coffy, he was fishing on the dock at the trailer. The trailer was the summer home that he and Charlotte, my mother in law, escaped to every year. It was heavily wooded and cool during the hottest of summer days. And the lake was a stone’s throw away. I had never dated anyone who had a home at the lake and I thought it was the best idea in the world. Who wouldn’t like to live right beside that huge lake filled with clear water that allowed you to swim ANY TIME you wanted? It was perfect!
While Coffy was fishing on the dock, Charlotte was inside making her “famous” potato salad. It was the kind of potato salad that someone in the South might call—Slap your Momma potato salad. I know that sounds awful but it MEANS that it is SO GOOD that NO ONE can describe it! What Charlotte did was teach ME to make it. To this day, I am asked to bring potato salad to everything. I never bring home a bowl with anything left. NEVER.
Later Charlotte and Coffy retired and built a permanent house on the lake and my children LOVED to go spend a week with them. Shoot. I loved to go spend any time with them. Charlotte knew everything about the family and told the funniest stories. Coffy was an amazing gardener and cook. He always sat at the head of the table. My daughter sat at one side and my son at the other. He would start the dish passing after Grace. He always dipped out the food for my children. He would do David first. He would say, “David, would you like some broccoli?” David would say, “No Granddaddy.” Coffy would put a spoonful on his plate anyway. You see Coffy grew that broccoli and you always ate everything that he grew whether you liked it or not! Then he would say, “Shell, would you like some broccoli” and she would reply,”Yes Granddaddy. Just a little.” So he put a little on her plate. It took David a little while to catch on to what to say. Then Coffy would pick up the next bowl of homegrown veggies and it would start the same way. It was hilarious to watch.
Shell loved to follow her granddaddy around in his enormous garden. She would be sitting right beside him doing whatever he was doing. David on the other hand, would be inside cleaning under the supervision of Charlotte. He did not like to garden in the sun! Both of them got to go fishing with Coffy. They loved being able to get in the boat with their Granddaddy and go fishing.
Whenever we left their house, Coffy always sent something home with us. He had an extra refrigerator in his carport room. It was really a frig that had once been inside the kitchen. Coffy never got rid of a single thing that still had use in it. The top of the frig was filled with glass bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. He recycled the bottles, of course. He never offered me one. I never saw him even tipsy. Never. The rest of the frig was filled with veggies that he had not canned or frozen yet. He would immediately begin filling a grocery bag with veggies to take home. He was also a fisherman and we brought home the best fillets frozen in washed milk cartons and water. How I wish I had his hush puppy knowledge!
Because of Coffy, I became a backyard gardener, too. I learned to make sausage gravy from Coffy. I learned to cook rabbit because he grew those, too. I can still see him on his porch with a smile on his face, hugging my children and then me. He taught me a LOT about being a grandparent. About having a kind voice. About being patient. And he never even realized that he was doing that. I miss him still. But the lessons he taught me—-well they are with me still. Love you Coffy.