We got to the nursing home tonight, sang to a few people, and I was still okay... until we reached the room of an old man who started singing along with us. That doesn't sound too unusual, but all of a sudden I was missing my Papaw so bad I could barely finish the song. The next few minutes I tried to keep singing and smiling and not make it obvious that I was about to have a little meltdown right there in the room, but being there brought back so many memories. The hospital beds, the gowns, the elderly people that were once bursting with life who are now curled up in bed and seemingly unaware of what is going on around them.
Papaw loved Christmas...even during his last Christmas season he'd light up when he saw the tree decorated. He'd still respond to the reading of the Christmas story, and he would ALWAYS sing along with Rudolph and Jingle Bells and Joy to the World. It made us laugh that he couldn't remember our names but he could still sing "Santa Clause is Coming to Town." =)
Seeing those people tonight reminded me of Papaw the way he left us... which wasn't really "him." I quickly tried to remind myself of the good times... Christmases years ago when he would put on reindeer antlers and "eat" the popcorn strands off the tree, or dress up like Santa, or the year he refused to shave the entire vacation because he wanted to have a "Santa beard." I can still hear his voice reading the Christmas story, and not just because it was the thing to do. He would always explain very carefully to us kids why we read Luke 2, why Christmas was about more than a baby in a manger but about the Savior of the world.
Not sure what year this is... maybe 1990?
Everyone who loses a loved one says the second year is harder, since the "foreverness" of the situations starts sinking in. I agree... last year was hard, but this year it's hitting me that he is really gone. I don't wish him back, because I know he's so much healthier and happier now, but I would love to sing carols with him one more time. =) I wonder if they sing Rudolph in Heaven? Probably not, but I know he's having a great Christmas and feeling wonderful!
Sorry to be all depressing tonight... but I know the rest of the family is probably feeling the same way. Any good Papaw Christmas stories? Let's cheer each other up. =)