19 April 2013

My Papa

Sometimes, I need perspective to write. Maybe that means physical distance but in this case, I needed time. Today marks three weeks since my Papa passed away.

On my birthday, which I celebrated a few days ago, I realized I'll never hear him sing Happy Birthday in his beautiful voice. Praise God for home movies. I miss him. I miss him a lot more than I excepted to, considering he had been slipping away from us slowly for the last few years. He knew something was wrong with him and sometimes, that was the hardest part. Alzheimer's, dementia, these conditions aren't something you wake up with one day. It's a slow process that pulls at your mind and takes away the parts that made you, you. The last time I saw Papa, he lit up when my sister and I walked into the room. He was very weak. He didn't want to eat the pureed food offered by the staff. I couldn't blame him. None of us could. But I know the light was in him until the end and a lot of that was because of my grandmother. 

Never have I seen such a bold testament of love than the love my Mammaw showed for Papa throughout these final years. It's a sixty year story for the books and one that makes me proud to be their granddaughter. She never gave up on him. She stood boldly and often stubbornly by her 'Honey'. I know he wouldn't have made it as long as he did without her at his side. 

Papa had three granddaughters but he treated us all like boys, which I didn't realize until later. Mammaw would be in the kitchen but the girls would be off and everywhere. We'd go to the lake to fish, always arguing over the life jackets. He'd take us into his workshop and we'd hammer two pieces of wood together and call it perfection. He was so encouraging and patient; the perfect Papa. 

What I found after my sister died and what I believe now even more with Papa is that family love and love in general never goes away. If anything, I think it gets bigger. What starts as a physical love on Earth isn't ended by death. It's too powerful for death to contain. When I hear an old Baptism hymn, coins jingling in a pocket or see a John Wayne western on TV. I'll think of him and send him love to heaven and I know he'll know. I believe that with everything I have. 

I feel blessed as a writer. I really do. I'm grateful I can put my thoughts on my head to the words on the page (or the keyboard). I wish I could've said something like this at his beautiful memorial service, but that lump was far too big in my throat. Especially at this time of uncertainty after graduation, I'll miss his sweet spirit and kind heart but I'm lucky enough to know it lives on inside me. I can't ask for a bigger blessing. 

Love you Papa. 


  1. Oh my sweet Clare, I havent cried in 3 weeks, that is so beautifully written and so heartfelt. Thank you for your gift of words!!!

    Love you

  2. Couldn't agree more with mom. Love you so much.

  3. Dear Clare,
    We had a nice visit with your Mammaw, Mommy and Dad and Natalie this morning for breakfast. We chatted about your Papa and other good times, we look forward to many more good times. We enjoyed your blog, you do indeed have a gift of words. Congratulations on your graduation, any company would be happy to hire you.
    Best wishes to all, Ray and Gerry Landry

  4. Beautiful, sweet girl!! He would be proud. What a legacy to leave!!
    Excited about your future, whatever it may hold! Have a great graduation weekend, and I will look forward to being with you on Sunday, celebrating many "things"!
    Love you much,
    Aunt Salli

  5. Beautiful thoughts and comments;such a great way to express what real love is. I'm thankful to have known your Papa and be friends with your Mammaw. I know your mom and Mammaw will have a Happy Mother's Day. Congratulations on your graduation.
    Lucy Graves