more that i haven't had a chance
or the words
to sit down
and put in order.
and i will
because i want to
but for now
the words we chose
my sister and i
for my pappy
on the day we said 'good-bye'...
We have spent a great deal of time this week explaining to three year old Charlie Jo, one of Jim’s great-granddaughters, that Pappy is now in heaven. Up until yesterday she seemed to grasp this pretty well, but upon seeing Pappy laid out in his casket, she got a bewildered look on her face and whispered to her mother, Amy, “Mommy…is heaven in that box?” And in some ways, she was so very right because Pappy was a little piece of heaven in our lives, a blessing beyond words in the lives of his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren.
To try and condense the last 31 years of Pappy being a Pappy is an impossible task. The memories and lessons he left us with are innumerable; memories of dancing in the kitchen without music, running through the paint store stealing dozens upon dozens of paint swatches, making runs to the local DQ for hot fudge sundaes, cheering on the Panthers as they dribbled down the court, creating headpieces out of meaningless newspaper articles, watching Pappy demonstrate his talent of riding a bicycle backwards down the street and topping it off with walks to the frog pond and evenings spent catching lightening bugs. The lessons he taught us are even greater; lessons like how to hoe a garden, the proper way to paint a room, the best method to use when refinishing furniture, how to engage anyone in a conversation about anything (including the brick wall), tricks for completing your math homework without a calculator, how to operate a 3-shift Chevy panel truck (up a hill…without cursing) and which plastic cups make the best tools for tracing circles. In recent years, we have had the unspeakable joy of watching as our daughters, Charlie Jo and Ella Mary, have created new memories with our old Pappy, from coloring at the kitchen table to snuggling on the couch.
More importantly, Pappy taught us how to hug with purpose, how to honor our country, how to treat those people that come into our lives and most of all, how to love our families, a legacy we will not only remember but will instill in our own children and grandchildren.
So yes, Charlie Jo, in so many ways heaven is in that box with your Pappy. But it is also in your heart and in the hearts of those he loved for that is where he will always be along with the memories and lessons he left us with. Pappy always ended a visit with, “Glad you got to see me!” So are we, Pappy. Thank you for all of it. We are SO glad we got to see you.