Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Emma and Seeley,
Mommy's dad, your Papaw, passed away this past month. October 14th to be exact. We were in our car, heading to Little Rock to have family pictures made when I got the call from your Aunt Kerry. It was so hard to tell you both that Papaw was in Heaven and that you wouldn't get to see him again for a very long time (hopefully). You both took the news a lot better than I had expected, for which I'm extremely grateful. Although, Emma, you did have a LOT of questions about why Jesus couldn't bring you to Heaven to visit or let Papaw come back down to Earth for a nice chat every once in a while.  Once I convinced you that you would get to see Papaw again one day, you've been fine.

It has taken Mommy a long time to write this letter because, honestly, I've been really sad about losing Papaw and sitting down and writing this makes it all seem very real.  So long as I'm doing things, staying busy, and not writing this letter then my dad really isn't gone.  But since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I've decided that I need to be thankful for the time that I did have with my dad, and thankful for the time the two of you got to spend with him. And since I know that memories will fade, I think its important to put a few down on paper now so that when you get older you can know more about your Papaw and how very much he loved you.

Your Papaw became my dad when I was 11 years old, when he married Nanny. And although he wasn't my "real" dad, he was a dad to me in every sense of the word.  Even after he and your Nanny divorced 10+ years later, he was still my dad and your Papaw.  He would remind me every time I saw him "you know I'm your daddy right?"  And almost immediately following that statement he would get on to me for something. "Well, as your daddy I think you're . . ." not eating right, not getting enough sleep, working too hard, etc. Your Papaw LOVED to worry!

He also loved sweets. That man could live on junk food and Little Debbie cakes if you would let him! And, his favorite pasttime was to just sit on his front porch and wave as cars drove by.  He HAD to be outdoors.  He would get all twitchy if he sat inside for too long. :) In fact, there was not a single person in the neighborhood who didn't know your Papaw. He never met a stranger.

Back in the day, your Papaw was hot stuff at good ol' Magnet Cove High School.  But what can you expect from an All-State football player and ladies man, right? You know how sometimes you think that your parents are exaggerating their "glory days"?  Not the case for your Papaw. He actually downplayed a lot of his football successes by saying it wasn't that difficult to run fast and hit hard. But after meeting a lot of his classmates and hearing stories, your Papaw was most definitely a star. 

Two things happened at his funeral that I think sum up his character quite nicely. First, an old girlfriend from when he was a Junior in high school brought by one of his letter jackets.  Your Papaw was quite fond of saying that he sure wished he had kept at least one of his letter jackets instead of giving them all away to girls. And to girls that he could no longer remember! But that was just his character, he didn't place the least bit of importance on material things. Second, a young (early twenties) neighbor and his wife came to the visitation. I recalled them vaguely from MCHS, but they were several years younger than me and had moved into the neighborhood just a few years ago. They said that your Papaw was the nicest guy they had ever met and that he had instructed his wife that if she ever had any trouble and he wasn't around to go and find your Papaw; that he would help her out and keep her safe.  Your Papaw would help ANYONE out in need, and he wouldn't hesitate to give someone his very last dollar if they needed it. And, I can promise you that I've watched him do it.

But most importantly, your Papaw loved you both. More than you will ever know. He lived for our visits and loved to just sit and listen to you talk. I'm so sorry that he won't be around to watch you grow up. To hassle Emma about boys and just thoroughly embarass you around them like he did to me. I'm sorry that he won't be able to take Seeley hunting, fishing, or camping. And, I'm just so sorry that neither one of you will be able to remember him very well. Your Papaw was not one for pictures; it seemed like every time I would get out the camera for a picture he would turn all Where's Waldo on me and disappear from sight. But, I did manage to find a few pictures of him that I hope will help you to remember him.

January 4, 2003


MCHS Homecoming, 1995
Christmas, 1998

Senior Year, MCHS
All my love,

1 comment:

dave and jenn said...

Oh Steph, I know how hard the holidays are going to be for you. :( That was a beautiful letter about your dad.