A few weeks ago we were asked to start thinking of special memories we had of our Pawpaw. I did, but I never wrote them down. It was as if writing them down would mean it was real, that Pawpaw was dying and that he wouldn’t be here much longer. It was if by denying myself permission to put my thoughts into words on paper, it would hold time still and everything would stay the way it was. I’m not sure I wanted it to stay the way it was, I just was selfish and I didn’t want to give Pawpaw up, not yet at least. Maybe one day, maybe one day I would be ready, but not now, not today or tomorrow or next week. I wasn’t ready to say good bye. Funny how that goes, how we want things to work out but God has other plans. Pawpaw passed away today, and half of me is relieved because I know he was ready but half of me is breaking is half, sobbing wanting someone to tell me this isn’t real.
Pawpaw was always bigger than life to me. He was always present in my life. For as long as I can remember, there was Pawpaw. He was who I ran to every day to fetch for lunch when I was four. He was who never rose a hand to us when we acted up but left the discipline to Grandma and the consoling he saved for himself. He was who always had a twinkle in his bright blue eyes when he wanted to laugh but tried so hard not too so as to not hurt our feelings. He was who could make anything with an engine run. He was who was the silent, but never failing figure at my softball and basketball games. He was who came to my high school graduation beaming with pride. He made me feel special. He loved me and I loved him and I don’t really know how you put something like that into words.
Pawpaw always said the dinner time prayer – it was the same every time. His voice had the same inflections, the same tones…and that was Pawpaw’s prayer – even though it was the same words, he meant each and every one of them each and every time and we all knew that. I loved to sit next to Pawpaw at church and listen to him sing. It was uniquely Pawpaw and genuine and unforgettable.
Pawpaw loved Grandma. It didn’t take lavish gifts or expensive trips for us all to see it, there was love and we all knew it and we all craved to one day find what they had found. Pawpaw didn’t give gifts, but one year, he asked us to help him buy Grandma a Christmas gift…it was a Swiffer Sweeper – and it was awesome to see him ask for our help b/c he had never really bought her a gift that she didn’t know about before…and I can’t explain the look in his eyes, he was a boy again, courting a girl and wanting to surprise her – how awesome is that after so many years of marriage?
On Dec 15, 2006 – my birthday – he had heart surgery, again and it was uncertain if he would come through it. I won’t ever forget that day nor will I forget his smiling when I went to see him afterwards and telling me I was his most favorite Granddaughter (I’m sure he told the other two the exact same thing, but it didn’t matter, because at that moment he made me feel special) – no Pawpaw had 4 more years and God had one more gift for me.
Children are a gift from God – that cannot be disputed. But my children, my girls, gave me a gift I can never repay. They gave me my Pawpaw. The fun, carefree, goofy Pawpaw – whose eyes shown with laughter and his words poked fun. When Pawpaw was with my girls, he forgot the world, his illness, the fact that he didn’t remember everything – it didn’t matter – he and my girls were in their own little world and they were themselves and it was awesome. Carli Lynn, was named after Pawpaw, and I hope she will have some memory, however faint it is of the wonderful, Godly man who is her namesake.
A week ago, we saw Pawpaw, Carli climbed in his lap – wanted to show him the kitty cats and he talked to her and I loved every minute. And then I left my Pawpaw’s house and as we walked out of the door I said, “Boy, you behave yourself.” To which he responded, “I always do, girl!” And Tuesday, I kissed my Pawpaw on the cheek and told him I loved him so much and I pray that he heard me. Today, I loaded my girls in the car and went to Grandma and Pawpaw’s house. Carli asked if we were going to see Pawpaw and I had to tell her no, that Pawpaw went to see God. Carli always repeats everything we tell her, and proceeded to tell me more than once, that Pawpaw went to see God. Wow.
Life is real, and death is a reality and I really don’t like it. I’d have kept my Pawpaw around so much longer but how selfish I am. I love my Pawpaw, and that really doesn’t do justice to the emotions I feel – but he is gone on after living a wonderfully full and blessed life. And if you were to ask me if I’d like just one more day with him, I would honestly have to tell you no, because my last memory of Pawpaw – smiling at my girls is not a memory I want to replace.
Thank you Pawpaw, for your example of love, faith, and life.
With all my heart -