Sunday, May 25, 2008

Remembering Papa

On Thursday morning, May 15th, I received a phone call that changed my life... My father was in a coma and wasn't expected to make it through the weekend... I arrived on Friday night. With the familiar togetherness that my siblings and I shared in January, we sat and waited. We held his hand. I thanked him for waiting for me. And, then, in a remarkable moment, when all four of his children were in the room, he let go and moved from this world to be with Mama again.

Three days later, I spoke at his memorial service. Here's what I said:

My father was many things.
It's not easy to sum him up in a few words, but I'll try.

Papa was a man of deep and quiet faith.
Though he didn't talk about it much, his honesty, integrity and relationships with people made his faith obvious to those who knew him. He also loved good church music and when he heard something that moved him, a quiet "amen" could be heard, confirming that for him, God was in the music.

He loved his country.
Through the stories that he told of serving in England during World War II, we knew that he was proud to have been there. And he was thankful that because of that service he was able to get a college education -- the first person in his family to do that.

Papa worked hard for our family.
When I was a little girl, he changed our 2-bedroom house into a 4-bedroom. He'd come home every day after work and spend time working on the house.

He was creative.
When my babies were little, Harvey asked him for advice on building a playhouse for our girls. In a few weeks, we received a package containing Papa's handwritten architectural drawings and detailed instructions for building the playhouse.
There are other stories of Papa's creativity, including Tin Man costumes and African houses and groundhog tunnels that he helped with during our school days.

He was generous to those he knew and he was generous to strangers.
I still have in my head, a picture of the time a bedraggled man stopped by our house and asked for help. Papa didn't hesitate as he brought him to the porch, and he and Mama prepared a big bag of food for him.

He was gentle.
I recall his sweet face as he held each of his grandchildren when they were babies, and the gentle way he played with them as they got older.

Papa was firm.
As you can imagine, with four children there were times when we misbehaved. I knew I needed to change my behavior quickly when I heard his footsteps coming down the hall.

My father was kind.
Those of you who knew my father well, will know what I'm talking about when I say that his face lit up when he was happy to see you.

He loved us through our rebellious stages. He loved our spouses and our children.

Most of all, he loved and respected Mama, and he expected us to do the same.

The truth is, Papa was all of those things and more. I believe the reason that he and Mama were so good together -- was that she was all of those things, too.

I'm thankful for all the lessons they taught me, and I pray that I can pass on some of their goodness to my children.


Zuneamama said...

I would like to suggest a wonderful uplifting book a close friend gave to me at Papa's memorial service. It is Healing After Loss by Martha Whitmore Hickman. It is a daily mediations book.

Carrie said...

I'll check it out... Have you also recommended it to your other siblings?
I appreciate your participation in my blog.