So many things remind me of Papaw... homemade milkshakes, and squirrels, and watching the Braves, and seeing his hats in the closet, and Landon and Leslie's big blue eyes. I think of him when old westerns come on (he loved Audie Murphy), and when I can't finish eating something (he was big on not wasting food), and when I see a French-cuff shirt (he was big on those too.) I miss talking to him... he was one of those people that was interested in almost everything, which made him interesting. I miss eating with him... he loved to eat, especially ice cream. I miss laughing with him... He was hilarious. He loved to joke around and had an extremely quick wit... nothing got by him. (I like to think he passed a little of that to me =). I miss hearing him preach. I miss hearing him pray. No matter where we were- at home, at a hotel, at someone else's house- before bed, he was going to pull out that big Bible and put his glasses on and read and then lead in prayer. And that makes me think of how Mamaw always had devotions with him, even when they couldn't kneel together anymore because he was in bed. I miss how tough on us he was sometimes, over what seemed like little things, but how very, very loving he was, especially with kids. He adored kids, and they adored him. (Of course, I was one of them.) It didn't matter how old he was; the grandkids piled on him and pulled him around and he wrestled and threw us around like a teenager. I think of him when I see a roller coaster, because he tricked me into riding my first one... and rode it with me. At 66. That was Papaw... I don't remember him being afraid of anything. I'd give anything to have more of his lessons and sermons written down; the man was seriously one of the brightest minds I've ever known.
From the time I was very young, I remember Papaw praying, "Lord, help our lives to count for you." When I was little I didn't give that too much thought. Now I think about it quite a bit. Papaw's life counted. Literally thousands of people can point to him as a direct influence on their lives and their families. He and Mamaw loved, counseled, prayed for, took in, and helped more people than we can count. When he died, hundreds of people visited, sent cards, sent flowers, and let us know what a difference he had made to them. And it didn't matter if they had ever wronged him... forgiveness was always waiting. My uncle Mike has said that one of the things that he learned from Papaw (and Mamaw) was that it didn't matter how someone had treated them in the past... that person could always come back and be welcome- at church, in their home- and treated kindly. That was just how they treated people.
I wonder, as I think about that prayer, what I am doing to have a life that counts. And no, not a "does my life have meaning" kind of thinking... I know my life has meaning. But what am I doing that will count for eternity? Am I the wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, teacher, and person that God wants me to be... that looking back over my life, others will be able to say, that my life counted for something? Something lasting, something important... something that reached others and not just myself? More than clearance shopping, or silly blog posts, or being a Disney fanatic... and I love all those things... what am I doing, and how am I doing it, that makes my life count?
One of the reasons I miss Papaw so much is that I just need his advice sometimes. I know he would be a voice of reason and wisdom when I am lacking those things. I wish he were around to answer my questions about teaching, about how to reach those kids- after all, he reached so many over the years (and it wasn't because he was easy on them!) I wish I could interview him and write down his story for other people to read. I really wish he could have been around as I've started writing more- I know he would have been so supportive of that. Even when I was a nerdy little kid, he was telling me I could do whatever I dreamed of, whatever the Lord had for me.
Papaw believed in me. He thought my life would count for God. Of course you can't live to please a person, but you can live in such a way to make someone proud, and that's what I'm trying to do. Please God, and have a life that counts, for Papaw as much for myself. His life certainly counted; in fact, so much so that even two years after he's gone I still find myself wishing desperately that he would appear and we could talk... about anything and everything... just like we used to. I want to be a person that he would be proud of. He won't be around to love on my kids, or answer their questions, or make them eat their oatmeal. =) But I hope and pray that everything he taught me, who he was, will be passed down through me.
This is long and rambling but I guess I just needed to write it all down... some of my memories, and a little of what I've been thinking about as this anniversary approached. Oh, I miss him. I'm thankful for Heaven. I know Papaw's life counted and I hope mine does too. And maybe I need some ice cream now... you know, just to make him proud. =)
P.S. Last year's anniversary post.