If Heaven has a front porch ...

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By Molly Haines

The day I graduated from high school, my grandfather was sick. There was debate as to whether or not my grandparents would be able to attend this momentous occasion in a young person’s life.
But I knew “BeBoss,” as his grandchildren affectionately called him, and I knew he would be there.
“I knowed ol’ P.Q. when she didn’t have a louse on her,” he would say of his youngest grandchild.
And he was right. Just as he and my grandmother had visited me in the hospital when I was born, I was confident that he and my grandmother would come see ol’ P.Q. graduate.
And of course, I was right.
My grandfather, James “Boss” Kemper Sr., was a beacon in my life from the first time he saw me in the hospital till just a few days shy of my 25th birthday.  And even though he’s gone, he remains as such, just a few days short of what would’ve been his 86th birthday.
It seems as though my grandparents and I have always had an unspoken agreement – you be there and I’ll be there too. BeBoss never missed a birthday, and in turn I never missed one of his. The one and only time I was sick beyond a bellyache or sore throat, my grandparents were there to check on me. And during the last hours of his life, I was twisted up like a pretzel in a chair outside the intensive care unit.
He worried about me driving in the snow and ice, and I worried about him driving the tractor. He worried that perhaps I hadn’t gotten all the butter cookies I wanted, and I worried that maybe he’d had too many cookies.
If this unspoken agreement had a clause, it surely must’ve been – “I’ll always be there, I’ll always care, and I’ll always love you.”
When my grandfather passed away, most people reminisced about the many hours he spent on the Kentucky River as an avid fisherman. I guess anyone who was close to him accompanied him to the river, lake or pond at some point, myself included.
But the one thing that sticks out in my mind is walking up the yard toward the front porch on Sunday afternoons and seeing the pillar of my family sunk down in his lawn chair with a grin on his face and four words that I will hear in my mind for the rest of my life – “Well there’s ol’ P.Q.!”
I think of BeBoss every day without failure, most of the time without anything to really prompt those thoughts.
In the days and weeks since his passing, I have often wondered if Heaven has a front porch, because if it does I’d like to think those daily thoughts are actually BeBoss checking in on me from his lawn chair in the sky.
Perhaps it’s his way of reminding me, “I’ll always be there, I’ll always care, and I’ll always love you.”

Molly Haines is the editor of the Owenton News-Herald