Certs. Raisin Bran. Ice cream. Horses. Cheddar Popcorn. They'll always bring me back to my Papaw. I wish I knew how to better express the emotions that are coursing through me right now.
He's gone. His energy, his humor, his accent, his encouragement, his zest for life... they aren't here anymore. But also gone is the terrible cancer that robbed him of some of that essence. He's no longer suffering, and above and beyond the heartache and grief I'm feeling right now is a joy that he's with God and making Heaven a little bit funnier and a little bit brighter.
He's not like anyone I've ever met. He took any accomplishment we ever achieved and magnified it a thousand times over. I was the lead in the school play? Oh no, to him, I was about to break into Hollywood. My brother had a good swim meet? Nope, to Papaw, he was soon to be an Olympian. Little Sis scored two goals during her soccer tournament? She was being recruited to the US National team.
He was funny. And he didn't mean to be. He was so non-politically correct, and he said things that from anyone else would sound offensive. When he told me that I wasn't "as stumpy as I used to be," my feelings should have been hurt, or I should have gotten angry. Instead I laughed and thanked him for the compliment. Because that's just how he was. A visit with Papaw wasn't complete until he had uttered the magic words that we were "lookin' slim and trim." If he ever didn't say it, I knew it was time to hit the gym. During our second to last time together we saw our beloved Tennessee Vols dominate the Georgia Bulldogs. He brought us all cushions to sit on and handed them out as we made our way to the stadium. He pulled me aside to tell me that he hadn't given me the smallest cushion because he thought I naturally had more padding than everyone else. But the fact that he had to tell me that makes me know that's exactly why he did it. But I just laughed because it was so Papaw. He thought I was beautiful.
He loved horses. Even two weeks before his passing he was riding. He was mortified that he needed assistance mounting, but he did. He was even more humiliated that he couldn't ride one difficult horse better than his sister. They had a friendly competition that Papaw always won. He wouldn't have it any other way. He loved that I took riding lessons, and we spent many a Saturday morning out at Beaverbrook riding and visiting the horses. He had a barn at his house too. Beautiful and immaculate, he lovingly cared for each detail and until several months ago, he kept his own horses out there. If you've ever thought that a barn couldn't be beautiful, come visit his.
He wrote with "lots" of quotes. I am so glad that I've kept so "many" of his cards and notes. As a family we spent Christmas "morning" reading what he'd written "us," and chuckling at his use of quotations instead of italics. He "loved" us, and he always "hoped" that we enjoyed our gifts. He thought I was the "best." My birthday this year won't be the "same" without those. I "miss" him so much.