Theo Grayson: Taxi driver, father, friend

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2006

You saw that taxi everywhere. At some point during the day, you would see it driving somewhere throughout the city of Greenville.

It made plenty of stops. Sometimes at the bank, the grocery stores, the doctors' offices. It made plenty of trips from the drugstore to someone's home. I don't know how many times my dad delivered people's medicine right to their front door. He even delivered people's groceries to them, just brought

them right on into the house. People would give him their social security checks so he could deposit them in the bank. Can you imagine trusting someone to deposit your check for you in today's society? It's unheard of.

Time has a cruel way of not stopping for anyone or anything. I say it's cruel; at the same time, it can be a healing factor.

My father, Theo Grayson, passed away April 21, 2000. It is almost unimaginable to think that six years have come and gone, and I haven't been able to see or speak with him in all that time. When he got his own cell phone several years before he died, he and I would talk at least twice a day. I had moved away from Greenville in 1989, so those phone calls were like lifelines to me - just to check on me, just checking to make sure I was all right, just like he did for all of his children.

When I was growing up, I was the only child I knew of who was dropped off and picked up at school in a cab. I didn't think anything of it. It was a constant in my life, as well as for my brothers. I didn't have to look very far because I was going to see my daddy's taxi waiting for me. I never doubted it. Talk about security.

And the fact that he taped my school picture to the dashboard of the taxi was something else I was always proud of. There's that security again - that knowledge that you have someone in this world who will always be there for you no matter what.

At the Alabama Grill downtown, he congregated with his buddies over coffee. As soon as I would get off the interstate when coming home for a visit, if I didn't find him at the taxi stand down at the train depot, I headed for the Alabama Grill where I lost plenty of money having to pay for everyone's coffee. I never did learn how to &#8220match” with him, and Mr. Ed Jernigan, Mr. Charles Jones, Mr. Don Herndon, Mr. James McArthur, and the others. Mr. Ed has tried to explain &#8220matching” to me even since Daddy died, but I still couldn't get it. It didn't matter. It was always funny to them whenever I lost the &#8220match game” and I had to pay for all the coffee. What they probably didn't know was that Daddy always paid me the money back once we got outside.

The Alabama Grill, the State Cab Company, the Ritz Theatre, Petty's Appliance Store, Capp's Drugstore, Belk Hudson's. Things that were constant, always there, dependable.

Daddy's days always started early in the mornings. Even on the weekends, it was hard to keep him still. His work gloves are still lying on top of the table next to the back door where he always kept them. A silent reminder of his hard work ethics, his love for his family, his strengths, his weaknesses.

Was my father perfect? Absolutely not. Could he have a short temper? You betcha. Did he love his family unconditionally? Completely.

He was 74 years old when he died. It's been six long years without him. And that emptiness, too, has become a new constant for me.

Regina Grayson is a Greenville native who is currently managing editor of The Advocate's sister paper, The Luverne Journal. She can be reached at 334-335-3541 or by email: