This afternoon, at the age of 91, my beloved Paw Paw left this world to go be with the Lord.
My earliest memory of my grandfather is being on the farm and going out into the wheat fields on his "big green tractor". He would take me out, let me sit on his lap and "drive" the green machine. We would look into the massive panhandle sky and discuss the important stuff in life - like what shape the clouds made in the sky and how to know if it was going to rain anytime in the next few days. I remember thinking, "this must be what heaven is like". I remember going out with him when I was three, when I was six, when I was ten, when I was twelve. This was our special time together!
Some of my other wonderful memories include sitting at the kitchen table and waiting for him to come in long after my bed time to eat a bowl of cereal together. He had the gross looking fiber-pellet cereal and I got Kix. We also enjoyed time sitting in the living room watching the news. He sat in his sheet-covered mechanical chair and I sat on the round orange ottoman right at his feet. I never much liked watching the news with anyone else, but when it was with my Paw Paw I was doing important business!
The big yellow farm house signified many great things in my childhood, but by far the very best was spending time with my Paw Paw! I don't know that there has been another single human in my life that I have adored quite as much!
As I grew older, there was a window of awkwardness that came. Somehow, I didn't feel like I was quite as special to him because I wasn't a hard working man or an even harder working woman - quite yet. I was just a teenage girl and I think he just didn't quite know what to do with me. But even still, my adoration for him never faded.
As all children (and grand-children) do, I grew. When it came time to pick a college to go to, I chose a school in Abilene. My grandparents lived there and I felt safe living close to them. My freshman year, my grandmother got very ill and my grandfather got into a car accident. I remember feeling the sting of realizing that my grandparents were aging and health was not a guarantee. Before my grandparents moved back up to Amarillo to live closer to a lot of our family, I had a conversation with my grandfather. He said, "Sis. You have always been a special one." I nearly fell apart in tears in that moment - just as I am in this one. I realized that despite my growing up, I was still his little grand-daughter.
In the following years, I made many trips from Abilene to Amarillo to see my grandparents. My grandmother's health was very frail during those years and I wanted to spend time with her. But even then, when my grandmother would go lie down for a rest I would sit and watch the news with my Paw Paw. It was time, that for some strange reason was just precious to me - almost sacred.
I have not seen my grandfather much in the past few years. I saw him just twice in the past 13 months - for his 90th birthday and for Christmas. His mind was becoming cloudy and his strength was diminished. Yet I still saw the strong man who would play with me in the wheat fields. Just last night in my "I can't sleep" awake hours, it occurred to me that my grandfather was not immortal and that at some point he would pass away from this world. I did NOT expect it to be today, but maybe Holy Spirit was just helping me prepare for the road that would be today.
I know that many will say that he is now in a better place where pain, fatigue, and earthly sorrow can no longer hinder him. For this I am thankful. But for the fact that I will never again get to sit and watch the news with my Paw Paw, I am grieved!
I will miss him like no other that I have ever lost!