Yesterday, would have been my grandpa's birthday. I posted earlier this year about my sweet grandma after she had been gone for one year. My sweet Papaw passed away six weeks after the love of his life last year and yesterday would have been his birthday.
My mom usually made the most delicious strawberry shortcake for his birthday.
I missed having strawberry shortcake this year. Last year too, but even more poignantly yesterday. And I am talking about knock-your-socks-off, made-from-scratch, deliciousness. (And this coming from an admitted chocoholic who won't waste calories on many sweets that aren't chocolate).
I didn't miss the strawberry shortcake, because of its deliciousness though. I missed it because I really miss my grandparents this year. Last year, everything was so raw. And I was finishing the first year of my graduate school program (which was a challenge in and of itself), and I was getting ready to move home with my parents, my fiance had just graduated college, we were taking engagement photos, planning a wedding, and getting ready for showers and a brand new job. My life was full and busy.
But this year, my life is more normal. I don't have any major changes occurring in the next three or six months, at least none that I am planning for. So this year, my more reflective self, felt a pang of my loss.
He was such a wonderful human being.
He was an educator, that specialized in teaching people how to read. He was passionate about it and he found it so very important. Thus, he encouraged me to read for the good of my education and learning! But also because he loved books! He was always reading, even when he was older. And when he was too old to read, he would still look at books with pictures.
Before I was about ten (when they moved to our hometown), they lived an hour and half from our city, in a different city. I so much enjoyed driving with my mom and our dog Casper and my baby brother to visit them. I loved visiting for so many reasons, but one was because there was lots of exploring to be done at their home an in their city. One such kind of exploring, was rock hunting! There was a rock garden on one side of the house with many of his finds. The garage was filled with cutting and polishing machines. The terrace sun room that led to the backyard had cool pieces he had worked on. Actually, there were cool pieces of petrified wood, amethysts, amber, turquoise, and much much more, littered throughout their home.
Another such adventure was going to the zoo. I so much enjoyed when Papaw would take me to the zoo, which had a really beautiful giraffe. And the zoo in our town did not have a giraffe so it was an extra special treat. I think we would go there and picnic in a park there. And walk around and see the giraffe. And I felt like I was on a safari in Africa with someone who knew a whole lot about giraffes and Africa!
His last years were hard on me, though I'm not sure I have shared that with anyone before. Where my grandmother still always knew who I was and what was going on in my life, my grandfather sometimes thought I was his sister or my mom when she was my age. It made me so sad. I missed him so much already.
But I'm remembering the time before that time. And I know that both my brother and I were so very special to him. We were his (only) grandchildren (I have two other cousins now, but they are considerably younger than my brother and I) so I think we were his pride and joy. As my mother was his and they had a special bond, and since we belonged to her, things transpired such that I think he really adored us.
And he was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most generous human being I have ever known. He always gave, everything he had, to others. Be it time, attention, or love, he was so selfless in the way he lived. From what I could tell and the years that 24 1/2 years he was in my life.
For every birthday I had, he would give me the amount of money of my age that year, plus an extra dollar bill "to grow on." Even if they didn't have much money, he would share it. He would give it on to someone who he thought needed it or would enjoy it more than he did. Because he enjoyed the giving. Not the money itself.
I suppose one of the best ways I can remember him is to carry that on in my own life. Give of myself to others. Give of my money to others. Give of everything I have, to those who are weak and weary, sick and sore. To the widows and the orphans. To best memorialize him in my life, I can give of myself to others, because I think that is what he would want.
And how fitting of a time for me to remember him, as I begin this practicum experience, that will call upon me to use my skills and education to help others, in need, without the resources to find more experienced, better qualified help. But I can give of myself to them and to their needs, and from it I will be learning and investing in my education which I think would thrill him, and be giving of myself to these others at the very same time.
I miss you Papaw. And I love you.
So I'm here. And I'm still writing,
And can I just say: Wow, how special is our God that would bring all of this to mind at the appointed time that I, too, might be His humble servant in a better way that I could have designed on my own.