My Granddaddy

I lost my granddaddy yesterday.

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Even at 91 years old, and having lived an extremely charmed and fulfilling life, there’s still something that aches. Grandparents aren’t supposed to die.

Sadly, it was a long time coming, with a failing this and an ailing that. But it was the unexpected diagnosis of pancreatic cancer that took his life. We found out about this six weeks ago, and yesterday he was gone.

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Tillman Byron Blann was the absolute quintessential grandfather. Classic to the bone. With a tender voice, a careful touch and a genuine heart flooded with Christian faith and purity, he had the whole grandfatherness thing in the bag.

A skilled musician, railroad employee, ham radio operator, church deacon, bee keeper, avid riding lawn mower-er, fiddle builder (he built seven!), husband to his lovely wife Sue (whom I’m named after!) and the father of my dad, he was all that and a bag of chi – okay yeah I’m not saying that.

Aren’t they a handsome couple? They would have been married 70 years this July. SEVENTY YEARS. That’s like, 13.764 zillion Laverne and Shirleys.

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Probably more like 14.6342 trillion.

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I would like to point out that my grandmother does not in fact wear a nose ring, even though it kind of looks that way in their 50-year wedding anniversary photo. How cool though if she did? I might need to talk to her about that in a few days. Yes, she’s still alive. Last one left.

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They lived in Dermott, AR for about 500 years, and he’ll be buried there this Friday. I’m kind of excited about going back, actually. There’s just something about the deep south in Arkansas. It smells good. The pace is slow. The wrap-around porch to person ratio is straight up mind boggling.

Here we are in 1994 in my back yard in Hobbs, New Mexico. Look at my amazing hair. I think I’ll go cut and curl bangs. And put braces back on my teeth.

That was 20 years ago. TWENTY YEARS. That’s like 3.824 kazillion Laverne and Shi – right.


And one more from my high school graduation. Why I’m sticking my tongue out is beyond me.


I have many more photos of us, but my mom was tired of me going, “HEY SEND ME THE ONE OF . . . ”

So let’s end here. Me and my granddaddy, on his favorite riding mower in Dermott, Arkansas in the late ’70s.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I’d like to clarify that I don’t call my own dad “daddy.” Just my granddaddy. Just thought I’d . . . make that clear.

I’ll miss you forever, granddaddy. I promise I’m driving obnoxiously carefully and taking really, really good care of my car.


39 Responses to My Granddaddy

  1. Catherine May 14, 2014 at 6:43 am #
    Bev,I am so sorry for you loss. What a wonderful man he was, you can tell by looking at him and the way you talk about him ! Your grandfather in pictures when he was young, he looks a lot like my daddy. I did a double take and looked again to be sure I saw right. Then - my husband thought so too. My father is gone 15 years.
  2. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl May 14, 2014 at 6:54 am #
    Awww I'm sorry for your loss friend. What a beautiful man - inside and out. Love the photos. And thank you for the nose ring joke, I was starting to get teary eyed and you brought me back. xo
  3. Cherie May 14, 2014 at 6:56 am #
    Sympathy for your family's loss but happy that his presence graced your life
  4. Belinda May 14, 2014 at 7:11 am #
    My condolences on the passing of your beloved Grandaddy. Hang tight with your memories and the fact that he loved you as much as you did him! My grandaddies have been gone for years but my memories of good times and their love live forever.
  5. Jen May 14, 2014 at 7:11 am #
    I'm so sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute to your grandaddy.
  6. Julie May 14, 2014 at 7:17 am #
    I'm so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers. I hope he got to meet the babies.
  7. Abby @ The Frosted Vegan May 14, 2014 at 8:00 am #
    Thinking of you Bev! I love all the pictures you shared!
  8. Kate May 14, 2014 at 8:22 am #
    Bev, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your grandpa was clearly a great man. Seventy years of marriage is amazing! Thinking of you.
  9. Julie @ Table for Two May 14, 2014 at 8:39 am #
    I'm so so sorry for your loss, Bev. It's so very hard to lose a grandparent, especially one that you were very close to. Hold on tight to those dear memories. I'll be thinking about you and your family! PS - I lost my grandfather last year to pancreatic cancer too :( it totally sucks and cancer blows. Love you xoxoxo
  10. Melissa @ Treats With a Twist May 14, 2014 at 8:57 am #
    Awe I'm so sorry Bev. It sounds like he lived a beautifully full life. It still hurts and still sucks though. Know you are loved and enjoy the fresh air and moments back in AR
  11. Jackie May 14, 2014 at 9:05 am #
    What a beautiful tribute to your granddaddy. I'm so sorry for your loss. Enjoy your time in Arkansas this weekend -- I'll be thinking of you and your family.
  12. Angie May 14, 2014 at 9:49 am #
    So sorry for your loss Bev. Losing grandparents is so incredibly hard, even when they live an extremely full and long life.
  13. Jacki @ Two Forks One Love May 14, 2014 at 11:01 am #
    Condolences on your loss. Yesterday marked nine years since my grandmother passed. I still miss her. I hope you find your memories of him a comfort in your times of sadness.
  14. Matt Robinson May 14, 2014 at 11:45 am #
    How incredibly touching this post is. LOVE the pictures, especially the last one. My grandfather was my hero and I will never forget the day we lost him. Your grandfather seemed like an amazing guy. My condolences to you and your family.
  15. Stephanie May 14, 2014 at 11:59 am #
    So sad to hear about your loss. I love my granddaddy just like I can tell you love yours and I can't even imagine how I will feel when this inevitable sadness takes place in the future. What an amazing life and cute man though! Loved that he was a bee keeper and church deacon :)
  16. Connie May 14, 2014 at 12:37 pm #
    I'm sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute to your granddaddy--he has certainly lived a full and wonderful life. That last picture of you on his lap on the mower is my favorite, must be among your favorite memories of him.
  17. Stacey I May 14, 2014 at 12:37 pm #
    I am so sorry for the loss of your granddaddy. You really paid him an awesome tribute in this post, and he is definitely smiling down at you :)
  18. Sarah O. May 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm #
    So sorry to hear about your grandfather. These photos are beautiful.
  19. Bruce May 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm #
    Bev, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Your Granddaddy seemed like a fabulous man. Obviously he really loved you and vice versa. Killer tribute post. I only hope to be a similar "Papa" to my grandkids. The bar is high!
  20. Lori @ RecipeGirl May 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm #
    So sorry to hear about your Grandfather. You've done a fabulous tribute to him on your post! Seems like he was a great man.
  21. Olivia @ Liv Lives Life May 14, 2014 at 3:19 pm #
    Aw, I'm so sorry for your loss. He looks like an amazing man, and it's so great that you got to have a great relationship with him. My thoughts are with you and your family during this hard time. Beautiful post!
  22. Julie May 14, 2014 at 3:21 pm #
    So sorry Bev! Hugs!
  23. Jenn @ Mother Thyme May 14, 2014 at 5:46 pm #
    Awww, I'm am so sorry for your loss!
  24. Melanie | Melanie Makes May 14, 2014 at 7:13 pm #
    Oh, Bev - these photos are so unbelievably heartwarming. Such a handsome guy that sounds like one amazing man. A touching tribute. My sympathy for your loss.
  25. Patty May 14, 2014 at 8:28 pm #
    So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
  26. Tieghan May 14, 2014 at 10:28 pm #
    Such a touching post and really great pictures. I am so sorry for your loss.
  27. Becky May 14, 2014 at 11:02 pm #
    Bev, what a sweet tribute to your grandaddy here on your site. I love having photos for my memories of my family. My paternal grandfather died when I was young so I have no memories with him. I would love to have known him. My maternal grandmother also died very young from brain cancer and I know that loss forever changed my mom. I treasure photos I have of them and love to have my parents tell me stories to keep their memories alive.
  28. Sarah May 14, 2014 at 11:25 pm #
    So sorry for your loss, and I agree, grandparents are supposed to live forever. Be happy you got to spend so much of your life with him there, and remember the good times
  29. Amy @Very Culinary May 15, 2014 at 1:02 pm #
    So so sorry for you loss, Bev. All my grandparents are gone and I miss them terribly. F* U cancer - it's claimed the life of so many I hold dear. Hugs to you, friend ((()))
  30. Katie May 15, 2014 at 10:09 pm #
    This is such a sweet tribute to your grandaddy. I loved it. I'm so sorry he's gone - it just never seems fair, ugh. Big hugs, lovely lady.
  31. Catherine May 16, 2014 at 10:28 am #
    How lucky you are to have such a wonderful Grandfather! You have a lifetime of memories of such an amazing man. Absolutely one of the most beautiful tributes I have seen to a loved one.
  32. Terry Covington May 16, 2014 at 10:25 pm #
    You completely have his smile -- I hope you have noticed that. It really stands out in the pictures. There is something about Granddads, isn't there? Yours sounds wonderful.
  33. Judy in Bham May 18, 2014 at 9:51 am #
    I'm so sorry for the loss of your grandfather. My own Daddy passed away May 4 with pancreatic cancer after fighting it hard for almost 2 years. I hope your grandfather's last days were peaceful and without suffering. Your memorial was so sweet - I bet he smiled as you were writing it. A quick story about Daddy's funeral, perhaps unique to the South: Daddy's pall bearers were his golfing peeps (all in their 70's and 80's). They had nicknamed him Buzzard. As they came by his casket, each flipped in 2 quarters, reminiscent of their cheatin', lyin' and fun times on the golf course. I hope your grandfather's memorial service brought smiles and peace to you as my Daddy's did for me. Blessings.
  34. Meredith May 18, 2014 at 6:33 pm #
    So sorry for your loss. Grandparents are often associated with the best of our childhood, I know you will miss him.
  35. Amy May 19, 2014 at 10:14 pm #
    A beautiful tribute to your Granddaddy. So sorry for your loss Bev. I only have my grandmother left too; grandparents are a precious commodity to come buy. Save travels back home.
  36. Caitlin May 21, 2014 at 4:06 pm #
    I, too, lost a grandfather on May 13, but it was back in 1997. I'm so sorry for your loss. You're exactly right when you say that grandparents aren't supposed to die. Wishing you and your family the best!
  37. Heather Christo May 22, 2014 at 7:07 pm #
    Oh Bev. My thoughts are with you. It's really hard to lose a grandparent, but looking at those wonderful pictures, i am sure that he led a life filled with joy. I can only imagine how happy and proud it made him feel to be a great-grandpa in his time :)
  38. Sharon May 27, 2014 at 6:57 pm #
    Very sorry for your loss. Death is such an enemy to us all. As a faithful man I'm sure he took comfort from such scriptures as John 5:28, 29, Rev, 21:3,4. We all can look forward to welcoming back our dear loved ones.


  1. Friday Flotsam | Bev Cooks - July 21, 2017 […] up with family from all over to celebrate her charmed, humble life in the Delta. She was married to my granddaddy for like, SIXTY NINE years. Is that not insane? My jowls are going to be a raging mess by […]

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