My grandfather, my Papaw, was a gruff man. He was kind to me, but he did not suffer fools lightly, and he did not do things he did not want to do.
He was a Navy UDT frogman in WWII (the precursors to the Navy Seals), then transferred to the Navy Aircrew in the Korean war, where he was shot down over enemy lines and lived off the land for more than a week before being rescued.
He gave zero thought about what you thought about him.
I loved him so much and wanted to just be in his presence.
One day we were sitting on his back porch. I was maybe 12. My grandmother came out and said that a neighbor had just called and wanted to borrow a hundred dollars. She had told the neighbor probably, but she would talk to Papaw and get back to him.
“Nope. We aren’t doing it.”, he said.
“Tell him my ax is dull,” he said.
“OK,” she said and went back to the house to call the neighbor.
I had to ask.
“Papaw, what does your ax being dull have to do with you not lending him money?”
Papaw smiled. “Nothing, Hugh Lawson. But if I don’t want to do it, one excuse is as good as another.”