On June 13, 2013 I received a phone call I hoped I would never have to take. I answered the call and listened to my mom’s voice on the other end that was covered in tears. She could barely get the words out but she told me that my Papa had passed away. I don’t know that I can put the emotion I felt into words, but I immediately felt so many different feelings: shock, grief, sadness, and heartbrokenness.
It has been a few weeks since I lost my Papa and I have spent that time reflecting on the time I got to spend with him and all of the many things the Lord has taught me through this tough time. This blog post has been on my heart for the past weeks and I found it appropriate to share my story today, which would have been his 88th birthday (which is a special day for many reasons).
I have always believed the Lord’s timing is perfect and I still believe that, but in this case it was hard to fully grasp that truth. I knew my Papa was not in the best health and had been suffering, but I never believed he would be taken to Heaven this quickly. I guess there is never really a good time for anything like this to happen and hearing the news blew me away. I told so many people that I believed the timing was perfect by the Lord and as I began to endure the days after his passing I realized more and more that this was the truth.
As crazy as this may sound to some, the passing of my Papa was God’s way of answering my prayers. As many of you know, I have worked camp for the past five summers and so I spend them away from home. I thought summer six would be no different and I planned to again return to camp. One problem: summer classes. My summer plans quickly changed and I honestly was bummed about it. I have been praying this summer that God would physically show me why He had me stay at home for the summer. I knew that one reason was for summer classes, but I felt like there was something bigger that I just wasn’t seeing. Little did I know that a Thursday afternoon phone call would answer that prayer for me. It was through the loss of my grandfather that the Lord literally showed me why He had me home for the summer. I will be the first to say that I would have loved for him to have answered that prayer in so many other ways, but I am thankful He gave me my answer and a peace about a time in my life I was struggling through. Because I was home for the summer, I was able to immediately be beside my family and I had the time I needed to grieve the loss of someone so special and influential in my life. I love that the Lord can take such tough and difficult times in our lives and transform them to teach us new things and grow us as children of God. He did exactly that for me and I am so thankful He did so.
While the days following, and even the current days, were and are tough I was so pleasantly surprised by the continuous things the Lord taught me and did in my life. I believe that tough times in life are true tests of friendship and for me it was no different. I was blown away by the generosity that was shown to my family and me during this time. I know I was not able to personally thank each of you but from the bottom of my heart, I thank you and love each of you that did so much for me. Thank you for all of the food, cards, Facebook wall posts, text messages, and for simply being there. I can never thank you all enough and I am forever indebted to those of you that helped me through. One thing I loved about the experience was the opportunities it brought our family to bond and love on one another. I constantly said that I believe there is something so special about hard times like this because families bond in a way that nothing else could have created. It was so nice to be surrounded by my incredible family and I truly believe we all bonded in a way that will be forever remembered. We grew closer, wrapped our arms around each other, shared memories, and grew tighter as a unit. I know that is what Papa would have wanted and He was looking down on us the whole time.
In closing, I would just like to share some of my favorite memories I think about when I think of my Papa. One thing I will always remember is the man of God my Papa was. He was a retired Baptist preacher who served in the ministry for over 55 years. That blows me away and I constantly pray that I can be half the man of God he was. If I can do that, I will be doing quite well. It was evident that he loved Jesus with every ounce of his heart and he showed that in all that he did. I want to be just like that. This past week, I celebrated my spiritual birthday on July 3rd, just ten years ago. When I started my relationship with Christ, I knew whom I wanted to baptize me. On this day, July 6th, which is Papa’s birthday, my Papa baptized my sister and I together. I still remember that day and it will be one I tell my children about one day. I always remember him saying that was one of the best birthday presents he was ever given.
My grandparents were married for 69 years. Let me say that again: 69 years. I am proud to say that because so many couples today don’t even stay married for 69 days. My grandparents met at a young age, dated for three weeks and were then married. The rest is history. One thing I can say about both my grandparents is that Christ was at the forefront of the marriage. They loved each other through everything and I hope to one day love my future wife as much as my Papa loved my grandma. I could go on and on about this one, but I think the 69 years speaks for itself.
I will never forget Papa’s humor. He always knew how to brighten my day or anyone’s day for that matter. He always knew just what to say to make someone smile and it always worked. I feel like our relationship was very “humorous” and I love remembering those memories. Out of the four grandchildren, I can confidently say that I was the most picked on by Papa. I don’t mean that in a bad way, because it was just part of our relationship. I smile looking back and remembering being picked on by Papa and I admire the love he had for life in general.
As you can tell, my Papa has had such a huge impact on my life. I don’t say this about a lot of people but I can say that I am who I am today because of my Papa. He set an example I hope to follow and he will forever have a very special place in my heart. I know that I do not have to say goodbye to him because I know where he is right now. More than that, I know that I will get to see him again one day.
Happy Birthday Papa! I love you!
Holding Open His Door,