He’s always been presented as a legend to me.
If you visit Dumas, Arkansas, he has a tab in every store, it seems. He has visitors at every hour of the day, and he gets hellos at every restaurant.
But he lived, there, right? For years, even, in a small town. Not too surprising.
And Little Rock? He’s a big deal there, too.
But then we visit Greenville, Mississippi, to eat at the infamous-to-the-Puryears original Doe’s Eat Place. And they know him there, too: every waitress, every cook.
We visit Gatlinburg, and oh, do they know him there. They see a million tourists a year, but Papa Doc leaves a mark. There’s a line for ten feet outside of the Donut Friar, with guests waiting in frigid weather, but he’ll make them wait to get an update on Papa Doc and give us a box of donuts for free.
And now I’m impressed.
Stephen has always spoken so highly of his Papa Doc. Even when we were friends, I could see he shaped so many of Stephen’s childhood stories and was clearly a legend in Stephen’s mind.
He had recipes from restaurants all over the country, simply because he walked into the kitchen and asked charmingly. He visited far-off countries while most people his age were resting. He retired how many times while he continued to work from home?
He’s just as wonderful as Stephen always painted him to be. He was just as friendly, had just as many wise stories, and was just the loveliest old man.
And everyone knew him as Doc, which was just icing on the cake.
Now, we’re celebrating his life from so far away. We’re grieving, so far from Dumas, so far from Greenville, and so far from Gatlinburg.
“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.”