Lloyd Lee Ross, my grandfather, was born on March 24, 1918. Today would have been his 100th birthday.
Papa Ross was one of a kind. And I — like so many others whose lives he touched — loved him so much.
After he died in 2011, I wrote a column about him that appeared in the Father’s Day edition of The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis, Tenn.:
By Bobby Ross Jr. | Special to The Commercial Appeal
CEDAR GROVE, Tenn. — The name and the dates on the tombstone jumped out at me immediately.
Danial Ross. Born: 1791. Died: 1842.
My grandfather, father, brother and I drove out to this middle-of-nowhere cemetery in rural West Tennessee, about 100 miles northeast of Memphis, on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Leaves crumbled under my sneakers, and the sun bore down on my balding head as I explored this piece of my family’s past.
At first glance, I told myself, this could be any old country cemetery. The ugliness of faded plastic flower arrangements and skinny, branch-exposed trees struck me. I smelled dust and saw weeds and wondered how often anyone ventures out to this seemingly forgotten patch of God’s green Earth.
Yet, I sensed that I was experiencing something significant, that somehow this was sacred ground for me.