Sunday, March 5, 2017

For Paw

I will remember him in the melody of the music, behind the wheel of a tractor and in the hum of an old movie projector.
I didn't know that as the sun rose over a brand new day on March 19 that it would be a day that changed my family. I didn't know it would become a day etched on a tombstone. I didn't know that I would be present as someone took their last earthly breath and stepped into the arms of Jesus. And I didn't know it would be the last time I would wake up with all four of my grandparents still alive. Even now, when I think about it, it seems strange. I am conflicted with a variety of emotions and I wonder if there's a right way to do this – to let someone go.
I kept having the same thoughts for moments and days after. When we all gathered to eat or watch an Amos and Andy or were just all together – one seat was empty. I kept thinking he should be here. I've never known life without my parents and grandparents and family. I know I'm blessed to call these mine – to have the time I've had with them. But somehow that doesn't make it easier.
My mind has been stuck on a loop of the never agains. I will never again walk through my grandparents door and hear the words, "hey sweets". I won't hear the steel guitar being played in the background of conversations. I won't see my grandfather feeding the cats or washing the dishes or making sure everyone has what they need. I won't hear his witty one liners that made a table full of people laugh. I won't be able to pick up the phone and hear his voice. And I won't be able to have just one more conversation. Or say goodbye. Or another chance to make him proud.
And as hard as that is, I know that he wouldn't want me to think on those things. He wouldn't want me to dwell on what isn't. Anybody who knew my grandfather knew he loved to enjoy life. He loved to have a good time. I heard a similar echo in my spirit as God reminded me how incredibly blessed I was to ever be able to do those things in the first place. I realized I have to change my thoughts from "I won't" into "I got to". I got to know this man who brought music and laughter, traveling and movies, Bama football and a love of the Lord and his family into the lives of so many others. I got to call him Paw. I got an incredible dad from him. And I got a lot of things I probably don't even know about from him. He was a piece of my incredible family and made a greater impact than he ever knew.
This much I know, I will let myself learn. I will learn to love better and live more intentionally. I'll remember that life is precious and rare and fragile. I'll do my part and enjoy the "I get to's" now and appreciate what I hold in my hands. I will look at life as an opportunity to invest and make a difference because after all your life touches many others. I will look at the legacy my grandfather left in the love he shared with my grandmother and in the laughter and jokes and talents of his five children. I will forever be tied to him through a bond with my cousins. I will remember him in the melody of the music, behind the wheel of a tractor and in the hum of an old movie projector. I'll remember to be kind and courteous to others, to yell "Roll Tide" and to follow the Lord as I walk through my life. I'll smile if I pass a red pick-up truck or  a bottle of Sunny Delight. I'll tell his stories as best I can and pass on his interests and dreams to others. And I'll thank God, whenever I remember,  that I got to be a part of it all.
To Paw-
It's still strange to think that you're gone. We all miss you very much but I know you're in better hands. Thank you for every joke that lifted my spirits, for every hug and every long mile you traveled to be with me. You were a one-of-a-kind entertainer and a gentle soul who made our days brighter. Thank you for the way you loved your family and for raising such a fine dad for me. Thank you for following the Lord, showing us we "can't even walk without Him holding our hand" and bringing so much into our lives. Though I won't see you again on this side of Heaven, I know one day I will see you again. I love you. -H.
To Everyone Else- Mom and Dad, Will and Granny, Mrs. Jackie and Papa and to all my wonderful aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, co-workers and all those in between who are too wonderfully numerous to name but you know who you are-
How wonderful it is to share my moments and memories and life with you. I am privileged to know each and every one of you. Thank you for your love, your support, your dreams, your sacrifices and for investing in me. I don't tell you enough how much you mean to me. I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you I love you and I wouldn't be the person I am today without the wonderful patchwork of people God has in my life. Let us remember that life here on earth is fleeting but we are promised the assurance of a far greater reward. Hold on to the haves and not the have nots. Make the most of every moment. Live intentionally.
This one is for you, Paw. I'll stay humble and kind.
-Only Hope

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