I will always associated my grandfather with a bulldog. Like a bulldog, he was at times pugnacious, and always tenacious and unafraid. He held on to almost anything he wanted to and wouldn't let go. He was big and broad like a bulldog and although a very handsome man in his youth, could look somewhat like a bulldog himself.
He owned a bulldog. He, for a part of his career, drove Mack trucks, whose symbol is a bulldog. The image you see is the exact image I tend to associate with my grandfather (whom at one time may have actually owned this exact ashtray). My father (his son) and I attended a university whose mascot is the bulldog and one of my favorite gifts from my grandfather is a set of cross pens with a bulldog emblem on them that were once his.
Two years ago the doctors told my family that my grandfather couldn't last but a few months. True to form, my grandfather outlasted that prediction. Nobody could tell him he couldn't do something.
"Paw Paw," as he was affectionately known by all the grandchildren, grew up with a rough life on a small very rural Mississippi farm. He tenaciously survived the horrors of the World War II Pacific rim fighting. He worked road construction on many of the highways in Mississippi and Southeastern Louisiana. If you travel on the interstate in that region, my grandfather likely helped build it. If you know anything about the hot summers in the South and what road construction entails, you'll know that it's a grueling, sweltering, nasty, difficult job.
Strong-willed to the end, in his last days, he admitted to what we always suspected he thought: "I have never made a mistake," he told his oldest daughter. Pausing a moment then grinning he continued, "And if I did, I would never admit it."
This past Sunday I had the honor of escorting my Paw Paw, Jesse "Josh" Leslie Denton Sr., a veteran of our great nation, to his final resting place. He held on firmly till the end. We love you.