Friday, November 20, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
On earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain
You weren't afraid to face the devil
You were no stranger to the rain
Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a shoutin'
Look for the Father and Son
Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve
I wish I could see the angels faces
When they hear your sweet (I would have to change it to silly) voice sing
Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a shoutin'
Look for the Father and Son"
Friday, November 13, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
I hope you will take the time to read what he meant to me.
My pawpaw is a legacy. He is one of the most incredible men I have ever known and I'm so proud to call him my grandfather. Everything I could ever ask for in a grandfather- he was it. He was silly. He was strong. He was patient. He was in love with the Lord. He plays a huge role in defining my childhood. Most of my memories with him are out on the golf course. He wanted me to learn the game so bad, but the only thing I was good at was slicing the ball..... every time. So I drove the golf cart and kept his score. But I knew the course like the back of my hand and he would coach me. I loved watching him, and when our long day was over, we'd go to Krystals or to the donut shop. I love that EVERY time we ate dinner at his house, his favorite joke was "Whatchya want for supper? A goo goo bar?" and at every family gathering, his blessing before we ate was always "Rub-a-dub-dub three men in a tub. Thank you, Lord, for this grub. Let's eat!" The only form of discipline he'd ever given to his grandchildren was "You don't eat, you don't play. You don't eat, you don't play. You don't eat, you don't play...." It never worked. I loved every minute with him.
I'm so thankful that as I got older, I started asking Pawpaw questions and wanted to learn about his life. He grew up with an abusive father who drank often and would disappear from time to time. His mother raised five children almost all on her own and they had very little money. In pawpaw's later years in life, he found out that he had half brothers and sisters that he had never known about. There were times when pawpaw went to school with good-for-nothing clothes and shoes. He and his sisters would put cardboard in their shoes so there feet wouldn't touch the street through the holes in the soles. He quit high school to join the marines and started earning money to send back home to his mother. He was 17 years old and weighed 120 pounds when he enlisted. His stories are incredible. He boarded a ship for a month long journey from San Diego to China and would stay there for 2 years. He said he was scared to death, but when he was 18 years old he was saved and said from that point on, fear never entered his body again. After China, the marines took him to Alaska for the next 2 years where he obtained his expert rifleman medal. He was discharged from the corp in 1949.
He married my Mawmaw in September of 1957 and they started their family in August of 1958. There is one particular story that makes me unbelievably proud of Pawpaw. He worked for the phone company, gosh, I think for 40 years. In his early career with them, he worked at night splicing cables underground. In 1964, he was going about his job close to a four-lane highway. It was raining very hard that night. He heard a loud crash, but didn't come up to check things out. One of his friends came running to him to inform that a bad wreck just happened, so he came up to the road. He saw a car engulfed in flames and lots of spectators had started to gather. He noticed an elderly couple trapped in the car, but no one seemed willing to help. So my Pawpaw did the only thing that made sense to him. He saved them all by himself. At his first attempt, the hat he was wearing caught on fire and his scalp and hairs were singed. The first car door he tried was pried shut, so he ran around to the other side. He pulled the old man out and drug him to safety. Then he went for the woman. He said it was very difficult because they both weighed over 200 pounds and were in their 70's, therefore they had no strength. He was awarded and recognized greatly for his selfless heroic act. After Pawpaw passed, I was going through his things and found the newspaper article he had saved with his picture and his story. He ended the story by stating that the only reason he found the courage to put his own life in danger is because God gave him the strength to be brave.
Pawpaw has always made it his ministry to reach out to the needy. He never once thought twice about passing by someone who needed help. My dad said he remembers Pawpaw bringing home random families at dinner time because they needed a meal to eat. I remember a poor man named Bob from the Roebuck golf course that Pawpaw faithfully took care of. Bob was a special needs man, so the only job he could get was finding old golf balls in the bushes and ponds and sold them to the golfers. Pawpaw would always buy golfballs from him and would give him way more money than they were worth. He would pick Bob up and take him home. He always made sure that he had food and clothing. We read Matthew 25:34-40 at his funeral. It says:
"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'
Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'
And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"
That verse perfectly describes my Pawpaw's life ministry. He was a great man of God. He never judged you, he never turned away from you, he just embraced you. No one could do wrong in Pawpaw's eyes. He unconditionally loved every person and selflessly gave with the heart of Jesus.
I'll never forget when I heard about what happened. It was August 18. I was in California visiting my family. Hunter came to me and pulled me aside. He very calmly told me "Please don't worry because I want you to know that everything is ok, but I just got a phone call from your family. Pawpaw has had a stroke and is in the hospital." Of course, I didn't stay calm. Nothing inside me felt like everything was ok. My pawpaw didn't have strokes. My pawpaw got up everyday and played golf. My pawpaw worked out every single day. My pawpaw was the most active 81 year old I'd ever met. He was silly and energetic. He was invincible. A stroke? Not my pawpaw......
But he did have a stroke and he wasn't ok. As soon as we got home from California, we jumped in the car and drove down to Birmingham. That man in the hospital bed was not my pawpaw. And I had to watch him for the next two and half months slowly lose his life. It was terrible. I prayed everyday that he would get up out of that bed and defy everything he had against him. I was so angry that he, out of nowhere, had a stroke and wasn't being healed. The last week of his life, he decided he just wanted to go to his own house. On friday, October 30 he started therapy in the comfort of his bedroom. The nurses and hospice service chosen were amazing. Unfortunately, on saturday- less than 24 hours later, I received a phone call that his last days were approaching. We spent the night at his house October 31st, and seeing his condition by Sunday, the nurses informed us that the end was very near. He had lost so much weight, his urine and stools were full of blood. He had uncontrollable muscle twitches. He could barely open his eyes and his mouth stayed wide open due to the lack of being able to control his muscles. All he could say was "water" because his mouth was so dry, but he wasn't allowed to have any because he choked on it, seeing as how his body couldn't control swallowing movements. We decided to head back to TN and wait for the phone call. Before we left, I was so thankful for the opportunity of spending a few moments alone with him just holding his hand and thanking him for being the best grandfather I could ever ask for. 10:00 Monday morning, my aunt Lynn entered his room and saw that his eyes and mouth were wide open and he wasn't breathing. She said to the nurse "Is he gone?????" But the nurse noticed his state at the very instant my aunt did. My mawmaw was called into the room to be with him as he passed. My aunt held his hand and cried out loud "Daddy, you're with Jesus now!" My aunt said that all of a sudden, pawpaw seemed very peaceful. For a moment, his eyes and mouth relaxed and closed. And briefly, he smiled. He was Home.
I still can't believe he's gone. Losing someone does the oddest things to your soul. You experience such a deep sadness, and you feel like the only thing that will make you happy is to just be up in Heaven with that person- that nothing here on earth even matters anymore. And being in that house for a week after pawpaw passed was so surreal. I would hear someone's voice that, just for a second, sounded like pawpaw and my heart would flutter with excitement. Every room I was in felt like he was just in the next room over. I kept waiting on him to waltz in at any moment singing some silly nonsense, or walk in the kitchen and he'd be sitting at the table writing something down. The mornings were so quiet. Whenever we would visit in the past, I was ALWAYS woken up by pawpaw's boisterous voice and stomping around downstairs. It always aggravated me because he was my alarm clock at 6:00 am when I stayed with them. But now the mornings were quiet and what used to annoy me so much in the past, I longed to wake up to so badly. The absence of his presence was so obvious.
I miss him so much. But I do know that right now, he is hanging out with his mother and brother and King. He is playing on the most beautiful golf courses and making sure he shakes the hands of all the saints and popes. He's being sillier than ever and I can't wait to see him again. As for now, I will remember the man he was here on earth and spread his legacy.