Illegitimus Non Carborundum By James Nunnally Williamson George Justus Hearn is a massive six feet two inches tall, weighing in at 240 pounds. He is the typical grandfather; he often spoils us grandchildren with candy and stories. His big belly was the resting place of many heads which bounced slightly as he laughed, full of warmth. He enlightened us with his lessons learned through the military and in life. George would kick off his white new balances, lie back in his enormous recliner, wipe his freckle and mole-covered face with a kerchief he always carried, part his fine, thinning hair; and talk all day. And we listened. No matter what was occurring at the time, when George opened his mouth, the room silenced. Everyone wanted to hear his advice and do whatever they could to apply it to their lives, and everyone did. Once a week my brothers and I would rush into his house and bombard him with hugs and kisses. We dug the candy from the front pocket of his heavily starched, white, oxford shirt. He laughed the warmest, most inviting laugh every heard, like hot cocoa on a frosty morning. All his actions radiated love and affection, even his stern ones. I am to this day the only grandchild he ever spanked. While it hurt, I was so infatuated with my Papa that I was happy that I got to hold his special connection with him. Since that day Papa has called me Tasmanian Devil, or simply Tazz. Papa and I talked all the time. He told me of his childhood and of all the stupid things he did. It hurt me to hear them, and I could tell by the expression on his red-eyed face that it hurt him to tell me. He told me anyway. He told me things out of love; out of hope that one of his mistakes could prevent me from making one of my own. Once grown out of childhood innocence, the mistakes began to come. Despite my grandfather’s efforts to keep me from trouble, I still found it. After watching a movie with theft in it, I wanted to try my luck. I was with Papa at Carmichael’s Drug Store. He was getting prescriptions filled for his foot and his diabetes when I wandered to the candy section. The Hershey’s chocolate looked as inviting as a warm bed on a winter night. I took the candy bar and put it in my pocket. Once home, I pulled it out and began eating, thinking I had gotten away. Papa hobbled into the room and collapsed into his recliner and saw what I was eating. “Where’d you get that?” he inquired. I froze and his big kind hands reached down and pulled me up. “Why did you do it, James?” he asked. “I saw thieves on TV, and I wanted to get things for free, too,” I meekly responded. Then he dropped a bomb on me. He didn’t spank me; he was just barely visible past his concrete gaze. I will never forget what he said next, for his booming voice and strict words will always be burned into my mind. “You know you were doing wrong, and you did this anyway, James. I am extremely disappointed in you. You gave into a wish, and you took that candy bar. But what makes me maddest is that you didn’t think for yourself. You let the devil and his sin wear you don.” I was crying immensely in his shirt, my arms around his chest. I noticed the softness was gone for a moment, and that alone was enough to never disappoint him again. Next, my Papa looked at me and said three words,”Illegitimus non carborundum.” I paused as I hadn’t heard that phrase in Latin before. Then he said, “Remember these words, James, for they will carry you further in life than you ever imagined. Illegitimus non carborundum.” Then he laughed that familiar laugh when he translated, “Don’t let the bastards grind us down.” Although I was embarrassed when I first heard the meaning of his phrase, I took this advice and lived it. In everything I do, I hear my Papa’s stern words. When football practice is hard, or when my grades are slipping, I can hear him encouraging me. It drives me, pushing me to the limit to reach the highest goals obtainable in everything I do. George Hearn is the strongest human being I know, and he lived by these words. And so will I.