Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I Miss Him

I have been thinking a lot about my grandparents.  My many cousins and I called them Mamaw and Papaw.  We all loved them dearly.  We lost them both in a rather short time period.  We all cried very, very much.  Watching them both be laid to rest was so bittersweet and difficult.  To think of life without them was almost inconceivable.  They were a like the solid rock.  They were there always loving us.  They had a lot of love to share.  They had seven children of their own, and the grand kids just multiplied. 

They were soft and quiet people.  They loved Cincinnati Reds Baseball, family dinners, and well-sung hymns.  I wrote a little bit about my grandmother after her passing, but have not been able to put words to my grandfather.  Today, I think I can scratch the surface a bit. 

I know I nearly tortured him learning to play piano.  On our many visits to their home in Ohio, I would sit and ping away while he and my grandmother spent hours talking at the breakfast table with my parents.  Many times, he would kindly tell me that I had practiced enough.  Occasionally, he would say it twice, and I knew it was time to give it a rest.  Even with the pinging, he always made sure I sang at his church during my visits.  I even played the piano a couple of times.

Papaw was a Barber and after his retirement he had his barber chair taken to his basement.  Many times family and friends would find themselves in that chair getting post-retirement haircuts in the basement.  The hydraulics in the chair made a pig grunt noise, and he had me convinced that there was in fact a pig living in the base of that chair.  He would let me sit and pump the chair just to hear me giggle at the pig.  He trimmed my bangs a couple of times and buzzed my brother's hair every summer. 

He was particular.  He loved that my grandmother ironed his PJ's and pillow cases.  He told me once that if I wanted to be the best wife, I would in fact do the same.  He loved her dearly.  He was good to her and took very good care of her.  They made a good team. 

One time, he made a trip all the way from Ohio to Tennessee just to let me cook him dinner and bake him a cherry pie.  It meant the world, and I will never, ever forget that.  He was patient and taught me so many good things.  We always shared corn chips and Pepsi and good stories. 

He never missed one trip to visit me in the hospital.  I was a Shriner's patient and had many surgeries on my legs.  I cannot remember a single one that he and my grandmother were not there.  They traveled many miles, crossed many mountains, and gave up many of their nights so that I would know their love during those times.  He made me laugh and smile, and teased me often that I should just let the old veterinarian fix up my legs. 

He prayed for me.  He prayed often.  He wrote me letters even when I was grown to let me know that he spent time on His knees praying for me.  I saved every letter.  Just remembering those brings instant tears. 

Most people knew him as their pastor.  But I knew him as my Papaw.  He pastored a church for over fifty years of his life.  He gave everything he had to his church, his love, his time, and his talents.  He took that job most seriously, and we always knew how much he loved it.  When sickness overtook his body, he still made time to stand in the pulpit when he was able and shared God's love.  He wrote all of his sermons beautifully on small index cards and saved them.  He had the most lovely penmanship.  My brother now has some of those as he pastors his own church.

I never once heard a single negative word about any of his church members.  He always praised every one.  He always supported them, and raved of their goodness.  He never spoke down about their choices.  He just loved them like he loved everyone.   He just loved me.

He was my dad's dad.  He told us often stories of his childhood.  His example gave me a wonderful father.  He and my grandmother raised all their children well.  But, most specially he had a great hand in the life of my mother.  To hear her tell of the meaning he spoke into her life is something that I will always treasure. 

She loved them both so very much.  My grandparents cared for her like they cared for their own children.  When tragedy struck, they were there for her.  My mother has told me many times how dear they were when my oldest brother was killed, as a baby, in an auto accident.  My mother was badly injured, and her and daddy stayed with them some time after the accident.  The love and guidance poured out to them was life-changing.  I know my mother would tell you that my Papaw's words and love combined with God's grace got her out of that bed and gave her hope.

He was my Papaw.  He was a pastor and a barber.  But to me, he was Papaw. I loved him so very much.  I wish with all my heart that my boys could grow up knowing him the way I did.  They will hear the stories.  They will know him well.  But, the sweetest thing is that they are getting much of the same from their own grandad, my father.  And that is all because it was given to him....from my Papaw.

I love him...and I miss him.  This photo is just a grainy snapshot, but it is sweet.  This was the last time he stood before his church and shared God's love.  I believe it was taken in October of 2011.  He left us just a few months later.  He was 90 years old.  He fought a good fight and he finished his race well.





B Charmer 


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