This week my Papa passed away. I find myself reluctant to do the social media post with a picture and caption about it all. I really can’t explain why. Maybe it just doesn’t seem adequate in regards to all of my emotions and love. I have carefully shared lots of areas of my life, particularly adoption, so I found it conflicting some, however the key word is carefully. I keep much of it private. My extended family have shared beautiful posts and I truly enjoy seeing all the pictures of him, some I have never seen before. I love hearing their words on what a wonderful man he was and smile because it’s all really true. They seem to give such honor and love in what's just a snapshot of their emotions. There’s no forgetting the bad and only speaking of the good here. He was good. I spoke to my Meme today and fought back tears as I stood in the middle of open gym today with all 4 kids, my sister and two extra kids. I have created a beautiful life with Clay, one that I dreamed about as a little girl. Clay is my rock. I just adore him. We have so much life ahead of us. I can’t imagine losing him. And I also can’t imagine being with him over 6 decades and then no longer having him. I grieve for Meme. I know sadness must flood her heart. As Christians, it seems Heaven should be a great sense of comfort, but as Meme said, selfishly his presence is missed. I grieve for my dad who watched his dad decline in health and tried to make sense of it all. I watched him love from afar and from close up. And now I watch him grieve. I also watch my mother balance loving and grieving to a family she's been with since she was a kid. I grieve as a daughter, as a wife, as a mother and as a granddaughter.
I have slept a lot. I wondered if it’s a form of grief. I have been having dreams about Papa meeting Lottie or me explaining to others how he really wanted to. My Papa and Meme were such big supporters, cheerleaders and encouragers when it came to both of our adoptions. Lottie is the only great grandchild he didn’t meet. It saddens me more than I can express that he didn’t meet her. I know he badly wanted to. He would have loved her even more upon meeting her. She’s so sweet and full of smiles and giggles. I feel like he would have nodded his head in a job well done. I feel like he would have understood why we adopted again, why we couldn’t leave her behind. I regret that it didn’t happen for both of them.
I love how everyone goes back to Papa being a Godly man and I go back to picturing him walking into his kitchen with a KFC bag in his hands just for me. I can smell the instant mashed potatoes and brown gravy now. He knew it was my favorite as a kid. Papa was a wonderful grandfather in both the little details and big. Too bad I couldn't say how that small tub of potatoes ended up feeding the entire city of Little Rock? ;) However if someone besides Jesus could do it, it might have just been my Papa.
He also gave me one of my greatest gifts, my dad. Without Papa, my dad wouldn’t exist, but that’s not what I even mean exactly. He did something really right. My dad is unique. He invests in people. He gives generously. He’s very humble. He’s smart. He’s active. And he’s an amazing dad. I appreciate Papa for so many reasons, but the way he raised my dad and the example he set, may be the top of my list.
In the last decade, I hadn’t spent much time with my Papa. He became less mobile and I became a mom of 4. A couple weeks ago, I spent an hour on the phone with my Meme and was reminded how much I enjoyed her when I was little and how relatable she is. I wish we had lived closer over the last couple decades. Papa will be missed and he loved so many and was loved by so many. I couldn’t be more proud to call him Papa. I’d like to think he’s watching Lottie now and smiling down on all the generations after him. May we make him proud.