Friday, June 22, 2012

Papa ~ A Legacy

My Mom and I sat at the kitchen table Wednesday morning having coffee, talking about the decline of my Papa and his eminent death when my Mom mentioned to me if there was anything I would want to share at his funeral, or write.  It brought a lump to my throat just thinking about it, much less putting pen to paper or voice to words.  Just a couple of hours later, shortly after 11 am my Aunt called with the news that Papa was gone, passing from this life to eternity with Jesus, reuniting with my Grandma just over 5 years since her passing.

I have thought about a couple of the lessons my Papa taught through his life, whether he knew he was teaching them or not ...
  1. Life is better when you're laughing
    Papa was onery!  He always had a twinkle in his blue eyes and he loved a good laugh, at your expense or his.  I can remember him telling me stories of friends and the shennanigans they would get into as young boys, young men and grown men, each time recounting the story through fits of laughter. I saw him play jokes on all members of our family, often times "goosing" you or teasing.  I didn't always appreciate his humor as a young girl, but as I grew up, I knew not taking yourself too seriously and being able to laugh was one of life's greatest gifts, even at your own expense!  
  2. Family was priority
    Papa was proud of his family.  He was proud of my Grandma.  He was proud of his children.  He was proud of his grandchildren.  He was proud of his great-grandchildren.  He told us that he was.  He cared about the details of our lives.  I never visited or talked to him that he didn't take time to ask me about my job, my house, my friends and my dog.   I have great memories of  time at the lake, summer get-aways at Grandma and Papas, nights in the motorhome, sitting on the porch, visits at the 4G, Grandma and Papa sitting on the sidelines of numerous events and countless meals around the table gathered as a family.  No matter what, you take time for your family and time with them is priceless. 
  3. It's never too late to learn something new
    Papa left High School and moved to Houston learning how to be a welder and working in the Ship Channel before joining the Navy and eventually a long career in pipelining.  Having never earned a High School Diploma, he completed his studies by mail and earned his GED at 54 years old.  Papa was never much for the kitchen, but at 81 he conquered the kitchen after my Grandma died, learning how to cook everything from scrambled eggs to steak.  Most recently as I walked alongside Papa in the nursing home, I watched his determination to wheel himself down the hallway.  Still showing me, no matter the task, you can accomplish something new and you should never gave up. 
These are just a few things that immediately come to mind.  One of the most cherished memories I will have of Papa is something he recently told my Mom about me, perhaps one of the greatest compliments that I have ever received.  How he wished for me to find a husband, that he thought I would provide a warm home and be such a great wife and mother.  He'll never know the impact that statement will have on me.  But, I can guarantee he leaves a legacy with big shoes to fill for someone to fit the role of husband to me.

Thankfully Papa was healthy, having lived on his own since the passing of my Grandma and was only ill for a couple of months before his death.  Ultimately, as I think back on his life and as the end of his life approached he was content.  He mentioned on several occasions he had a good life, he had a happy marriage, home and family and ultimately lived a very rich life.  Papa loved well, led well and lived well.  Perhaps that is the greatest lesson, to look back over life and feel content with yourself, your family and your place in the world.  I'm thankful to be a part of his legacy and pray at the end of my days I will find myself at peace and content with the life I have lived.

{originally posted 2012 on The Black and White Truth}


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


With a lock in my hand and one last glimpse inside, I closed the door, turned the key and locked up most everything I own in a 12' x 12' box praying it would all be safe inside until I returned to retrieve it.   The boxes of my life have been in what feels like mass chaos for the month of April, including work, home, family and relationships.

An abrupt end to my work box started the shake up of life in April.  The world we live in is harsh economically and the small business makes decisions that one will never understand.  Despite this, I have updated my resume, started networking and submitting applications all within 24 hours of a lay-off.  This too shall pass, I am healthy, have family who supports me and opportunity to do anything I want ahead of me.  I am blessed.

As I looked around my apartment and took inventory of boxes and crates that I had packed containing virtually all of my possessions, I thought about the books  and studies having taught me and molded me to where I am today.  The dishes I have shared with friends and family over meals and parties.  The frames with smiling faces of my friends and family whom I cherish.  The mementos and gifts around my home each with meaning and significance.  On and on.  The box of home is packed away for now.

While I have been out of work, I have been able to travel with my Mom to see my Papa, who's also recently had his boxes shaken up.  From complete independence at 86 years old to complete dependence in less than a month's time.  Due to health decline, he left his home to the hospital and now lives in a room in a nursing home, dealing with physical, mental and emotional change in life, everything he knew turned upside down.

In January I met a guy, one you instantly start a conversation with that times flies by before you realize how long you've been chatting and wondering how chance could introduce two people.  One who I like, one who had similar values to me, one who was a friend - someone I truly enjoy spending time with, one who I wondered where this would take us.  A box that has also been turned upside down.

This is life, when it seems everything is going along with all boxes in order and feeling content, everything can be ripped out from under you, young or old.  Despite feeling like I'm living out of a box, I know the one box that is most important to me will stand the test of everything else, my faith.  There are times we put things of life in a box, seal them up and stow them away.  More often though, the things of life don't fit in a box, the top won't close neatly and we can't put them away.  Life doesn't fit in a box.  I know despite feeling like my life is in 12' x 12' storage, life is lived outside of the box.  Only when I put my faith in the One who sees April as no surprise can I continue to pursue making sense of my boxes, how and where they will be unpacked and settled next.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Over You

As the calendar turns to March, my heart always feels a little heavier and slightly anxious.  I often think with years passing that feeling would ease up a bit.  Though, year after year, it still comes and goes with the same anxiety.  This year as March 22nd approached, I really questioned within myself why 16 years later, so many emotions still surface as if it was the year it happened.  The year I first faced death and really questioned my faith.  March 22nd, they day my best friend died.

I think I've come to realize a few things about that day ...
  • I'll never get over it.  It is part of who makes me who I am today.
  • The anniversary takes me back to a time when I really had to choose to believe heaven was real and hope was in fact eternal. 
  • Because of losing a best friend, I care deeply for and about my circle of friends and am often disappointed when people don't reciprocate that same level of commitment to friendships.
  • I still can't listen to the song "The Dance" by Garth Brooks.  It came on in the car on the way to her house and hearing that song immediately takes me back to sitting in the backseat wondering how this could have happened and how in the world life goes on. 
  • I know that time doesn't heal all wounds, time allows you to process and gets you back on your feet, but time doesn't heal. 
  • As I sat in a funeral of her cousin a few years later, Isaiah 40:31 really came to life ... "those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint."  I don't know how we made it through those days which turned to weeks, which turned to months and eventually into years.  I know with certainty we were carried until we were able to put one foot in front of the other and walk forward and hope is the only thing that renewed my strength. 
  • I am sympathetic and empathetic to how others process, grieve and deal with loss in life - be it death or any type of loss, no one can tell you what is right, how long it takes or how you go forward.  Only faith in Jesus can.
  • I know my faith can withstand any trial, painful as it is, I know I can do it.  In fact, 10 years later, I endured the same trial again and am reminded every October 10th of how far I've come.  
  • I know when the 17th anniversary comes around March 22, 2013 I will again be reminded who I am and where my strength comes from. 
I guess in reality, I really am glad I'll never get over you.  That day sealed my faith and really taught me who I am.

{Originally Posted here