Thursday, July 28, 2011


When your absence doesn’t alter someone’s life, then your presence has no meaning either. ~Unknown

If you had asked me 4 weeks ago what my plans were for today, I couldn’t have told you. I couldn’t have forecasted how things would change so quickly, about how my life would change so quickly. I could have only answered with an “I don’t know”, and then a question of why you wanted to know. Mostly because I’m nosey, and I want to know everything.

Today we celebrate the life of someone who’s absence has definitely left an impact on my life. His presence most certainly did, so it makes since that his death would too.

You see, today we are celebrating the life of Papa.

When we moved in with him 3 years ago, we never intended it for it to be a long-term solution, even thought Papa wanted it to be that way. At 29 we both needed a space, and Papa wanted to share his, so at the time it was the perfect solution for us. We gave him the company that he desperately wanted, and he gave us a house.

In the next 3 years, utter chaos ensued. Ok, Not really, but it was definitely a learning curve for all of us. Papa was technology hungry, yet illiterate of how to work the machine. My solution to every technological problem from the computer to the microwave is to “reboot it”. If that doesn’t fix it, do it again, just for good measure. Because Papa was more a hand’s on fix-it type of person, my solution drove him crazy, and I remember him calling me at work a few months ago, and asking me how to fix his computer, and before I could respond, he said “I know, I know, reboot it.” and then proceeded to hang up on me. I didn’t know if I should have be mad at him for hanging up on me or proud that some of my sarcasm had finally rubbed off on him.

We learned so much about David, Dona, and Debra. We heard stories of their childhood antics, things that they have done as an adult, pets, jobs, the Gaither’s, and the people who worked with him at Lowe’s. We learned about Cubby, and Franswah the infamous poodle. We heard the stories about Dona and Franswah, we heard stories about Debra’s hearing problems and the frustration that a parent feels when there was nothing that could be done. We heard about the famous, and sometimes strange people that he drove in his cab. We heard the stories of how he pulled a fast one on Bee-pa and took him for a steak dinner with white wine mashed potatoes. He loved that he had snuck the wine in, and that Bee-pa was none the wiser.

We learned how to tile a floor, how replace a front door, how to repair a sprinkler system, and how to be humble. We saw on a daily basis of the amount of drugs that he took just to keep him functioning. I can’t begin to imagine the kind of pain that he lived with on a daily basis. I can’t imagine going to work everyday and not sitting at my desk crying, but actually working and having a sense of humor about life in general, the strength that he had to have to endure that had to be immense.

I remember his concern when my dad was lying in a hospital bed, and his help with volunteering to fix his own dinner and fend for himself for a few days so that I could be there for my mother. He knew that I was tired and feeling very lost and overwhelmed, and he let me vent and cry, and instead of telling me it would be ok. He just said to have faith.

I remember the conversations that we had when Brad was out of town about the anger and hurt that I felt by my own body’s betrayal. He could relate better than most. He listened while I cried, and he helped me find the courage to grieve for the child that we might not ever have and to move forward. He helped me find peace and acceptance, and then he prayed, and he left verses and thoughts on the table for me to find when I went to work the next few days.

Then, even though he wasn’t really thrilled about me going to Tech, he knew that it was what I needed to do, to start to rebuild my life, and he supported it, even when he didn’t want to. He was proud, but constantly reminded me that the things worth knowing couldn’t be found at a university, and that a degree didn’t guarantee happiness.

He taught me that there isn’t anything that time, a Gaither’s video, and a snack of chips and salsa wouldn’t cure.

At the time, we thought he was only sharing his house with us, but instead, when we moved out, we discovered that he had been sharing a lot more.

We learned that if you wanted to have a real conversation with him, that you first had to find something that he was passionate about, or have a question about something that only his expertise could provide an answer. Getting him talking about anything police related and he could talk for hours; sharing stories of some of the pranks that he pulled as well as some of the cases that he worked on.

Instead of a grandfather, John and I both found a friend. We found someone who cheered us on and laughed with us. We found someone who loved us even when he had seen us at our best and at our worst. We found someone who encouraged us to communicate and to laugh at our mistakes. We found someone that would drop everything if we needed him.

Papa’s absence has definitely caused a gap in our lives and in our hearts. And his presence will be missed.
His friendship will be missed.

Our lives have been changed, in ways we hadn’t really realized or even understood until his death was imminent. Today, I’m thankful for the tremendous impact that his life, his words, and his actions has on my own life. He was a wonderful example of a Godly man, friend, co-worker, and grandfather. Although he often alienated himself from family, they meant more to him than they will ever know.

I’m thankful that he is sitting around telling stories and catching up with the friends and family that have gone on before him. I’m thankful that because of the choices that we have made that some day, we will be together again. I’m thankful that he is pain free, and singing with angels, and I look forward to seeing him again.

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