My Papa

I’ve been working on this post for a while and I’m still almost at a loss of what to say.  It’s hard to imagine going into the holiday’s without Papa at our gathering’s.  Even though he’s been battling non-smokers lung cancer for the past four years he hasn’t missed a family gathering and his presence will be acutely missed.  But since today is Papa’s 77th birthday I thought it would be a fitting day to find words to express my admiration of my Papa today.
Papa passed away on October 27th.  Over the past few months he had been loosing energy and steam in fighting his cancer and after a few weeks of radiation treatment he was exhausted.  However, it was still fairly sudden when he went to the hospital for a supposed kidney stone the Friday before he passed only to be moved into ICU the beginning of the next week.  I’m sure the passing of anyone is difficult but I definitely wasn’t ready for this.
One thing I’m thankful for is that I got to introduce Papa to James.  Gramme had just gotten out of the hospital when James was born so they weren’t able to be at the hospital when James was born, but when he was a few weeks old I took him and Charlotte over to see Gramme and Papa.  I will always regret not getting a picture of James and Papa that day but I’m so glad that they got to meet.  And I’m very thankful that I got to spend that time with him before he got really sick.  I’m pretty sure we just talked about football and how Charlotte was doing with James but to be able to see him still looking pretty good and able to get up and get around is something I will always cherish.
Papa’s funeral was the Sunday after he died.  It was a very nice service and we were so blessed to have a chapel full of family and friends come to celebrate Papa’s life.  Charlie and Mary spoke and they reminded me of some things that were so special about Papa.  I can’t imagine how hard it was to get up there and speak, I definitely wasn’t strong enough to volunteer, but they both did a fantastic job and let everyone there a little more into our family and know about the special person that my Papa was.
Papa was born on November 20, 1934 in Jackson, Tennessee.  His parents, Granny and Gramps to me and my cousins, lived in Jackson long after Papa moved to Huntsville.  
This is Papa and his brother, Jim, when Papa was around 2 and a half.
Papa and Jim on a traveling Pony when Papa was around 3 and a half.  Apparently men used to travel with a pony going to neighborhoods selling pictures on the pony for ten cents.  I’m pretty sure Charlotte would love it if this happened now!
Papa went to Tennessee and never stopped loving his school even though three of his daughters, two sons-in-law, and so far four grandchildren attended Alabama.  When we were getting pictures together for a slideshow we found a picture of Papa in a BAMA sweatshirt from when I was little but everyone in the family was pretty shocked to see that so it was a very rare occurrence!  Papa loved Tennessee, so much so that when he prepared his obituary he made sure and included that he was a ‘die hard’ Tennessee fan.  
I remember in high school when Daniel Moore came out with a Tennessee print and everyone went in on it to get it for Papa for Christmas.  The only saving grace for all of us Bama fans was to wrap it in red paper with white ribbon.  But to the end his blood ran orange and white.
Papa had gone into the hospital the day before the Alabama vs Tennessee game.  Once we found out that it wasn’t a kidney stone giving him so much pain I realized that the end was probably pretty near.  So all day on Friday I prayed that God would let Tennessee play good so that Papa could take his mind off of the pain while he enjoyed the game.  I, of course, wanted us to win but I didn’t want it to be a blowout.  Around the start of the second quarter of the game I was continually shooting up prayers like, “God, I didn’t mean I wanted us to lose for Papa! I just wanted him to enjoy it!”
As a good Alabama fan I don’t own one piece of orange clothing.  But when Papa died I knew that I wanted to wear something orange to the funeral.  So we went out to the mall on Friday night to search for something and I ended up with an orange top to wear under a coat and Jason bought an orange tie.  When we arrived at the church we found that a lot of the family had on at least a small flash of orange in Papa’s honor.  And Papa’s flowers were almost all shades of orange due to the time of year which only made them more fitting for Papa.
Gramme and Papa got married on July 28, 1956.  They were high school sweethearts and had such a strong marriage.  As they grew older they even consolidated to one car and only had one cell phone because it was a very, very rare time when they were ever apart.  When Jason and I got engaged we were looking at late summer dates for our wedding and we decided to get married on July 29th to pay tribute to Gramme and Papa.  They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the day before we got married.

Papa loved animals.  This is Papa, me, and Gramme with their dog Casey.  I so very vividly remember Casey and how much Papa doted on him.  After Casey died they didn’t get another dog for years and years but eventually they adopted Scout.  Papa loved Scout and to the end he was asking about him and making sure someone was walking him and feeding him.

Cathy, Granny, Papa, Gramme, Gramps, and me

Papa was a great runner.  I think after he died I heard that he ran seven marathons.  I don’t know that he ran them after I was born but even after he stopped running such long distances he still ran often.

Since we didn’t grow up in the same town as Gramme and Papa we didn’t get to see them all the time, but they always made the trip over for big events like my graduation which you see above.  Papa loved his grandchildren even though he didn’t know what to do with my brother Charlie at first.  One of Papa’s big phrases that he used often was “Get Easy!”  He apparently would yell that at Mom and her sisters when they were growing up whenever they got too loud.  After four daughters and two granddaughters, Charlie, as his first grandson was somewhat of an unknown quantity.  
I’ve heard the story multiple times that when Charlie got into toddler stage and was running around the house at family gatherings, yelling I’m sure, that Papa would loudly say “Get Easy!” at Charlie and didn’t understand at first why he couldn’t sit and play like the girls.  Papa soon learned to adapt and loved coming to watch Charlie play baseball.  He also kept the scorebook for my cousin Sam’s baseball games and would come to as many as he could.

Gramme and Papa at their 50th Anniversary party

Papa was a quiet man and wasn’t very outspoken.  I guess with four daughters he learned to keep quiet since he couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  Despite that Papa would often send Bible verse and quotes to me and my cousins when they would send a card or a letter.  When Papa was about to go into surgery for the first time after the cancer diagnosis, Mom gave him a Bible verse that she thought would encourage him.  On his way into surgery he gave Mom this verse and said that he thought it was a better one than the one that she gave him!  Even though I haven’t been able to find what translation this comes from, it must be from one of the five extremely old Bible’s on his bookshelf, it is an amazing translation and I love this verse so much.  We used it on the program at his funeral and it was so fitting.

Papa holding Charlotte the day after she was born

At Charlotte’s Dedication luncheon

Christmas 2009

Easter 2009

My Papa was a great man.  He loved the Lord.  He loved his family.  He worked hard and after he retired he continued to work hard volunteering for activities he enjoyed and organization’s that he believed in.  While he wasn’t the most vocal man I always knew that Papa loved me so much.  At the end of any letter or card that he sent me he signed them “Love You Every Day.”

I love you every day Papa and I miss you very much.  Thank you for setting such a wonderful example for me and my children.  We know that you are healthy and having the time of your life in Heaven right now but we will always miss you.

Love you every day,

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