My Mom and I sat at the kitchen table Wednesday morning having coffee, talking about the decline of my Papa and his eminent death when my Mom mentioned to me if there was anything I would want to share at his funeral, or write. It brought a lump to my throat just thinking about it, much less putting pen to paper or voice to words. Just a couple of hours later, shortly after 11 am my Aunt called with the news that Papa was gone, passing from this life to eternity with Jesus, reuniting with my Grandma just over 5 years since her passing.
I have thought about a couple of the lessons my Papa taught through his life, whether he knew he was teaching them or not …
- Life is better when you’re laughing
Papa was onery! He always had a twinkle in his blue eyes and he loved a good laugh, at your expense or his. I can remember him telling me stories of friends and the shennanigans they would get into as young boys, young men and grown men, each time recounting the story through fits of laughter. I saw him play jokes on all members of our family, often times “goosing” you or teasing. I didn’t always appreciate his humor as a young girl, but as I grew up, I knew not taking yourself too seriously and being able to laugh was one of life’s greatest gifts, even at your own expense!
- Family was priority
Papa was proud of his family. He was proud of my Grandma. He was proud of his children. He was proud of his grandchildren. He was proud of his great-grandchildren. He told us that he was. He cared about the details of our lives. I never visited or talked to him that he didn’t take time to ask me about my job, my house, my friends and my dog. I have great memories of time at the lake, summer get-aways at Grandma and Papas, nights in the motorhome, sitting on the porch, visits at the 4G, Grandma and Papa sitting on the sidelines of numerous events and countless meals around the table gathered as a family. No matter what, you take time for your family and time with them is priceless.
- It’s never too late to learn something new
Papa left High School and moved to Houston learning how to be a welder and working in the Ship Channel before joining the Navy and eventually a long career in pipelining. Having never earned a High School Diploma, he completed his studies by mail and earned his GED at 54 years old. Papa was never much for the kitchen, but at 81 he conquered the kitchen after my Grandma died, learning how to cook everything from scrambled eggs to steak. Most recently as I walked alongside Papa in the nursing home, I watched his determination to wheel himself down the hallway. Still showing me, no matter the task, you can accomplish something new and you should never gave up.
These are just a few things that immediately come to mind. One of the most cherished memories I will have of Papa is something he recently told my Mom about me, perhaps one of the greatest compliments that I have ever received. How he wished for me to find a husband, that he thought I would provide a warm home and be such a great wife and mother. He’ll never know the impact that statement will have on me. But, I can guarantee he leaves a legacy with big shoes to fill for someone to fit the role of husband to me.
Thankfully Papa was healthy, having lived on his own since the passing of my Grandma and was only ill for a couple of months before his death. Ultimately, as I think back on his life and as the end of his life approached he was content. He mentioned on several occasions he had a good life, he had a happy marriage, home and family and ultimately lived a very rich life. Papa loved well, led well and lived well. Perhaps that is the greatest lesson, to look back over life and feel content with yourself, your family and your place in the world. I’m thankful to be a part of his legacy and pray at the end of my days I will find myself at peace and content with the life I have lived.