Oh, Papa

My grandpa died last Saturday. His funeral is today, and I am giving him a tribute on behalf of all the grandkids. I wanted to share it on my blog because I really like how it turned out. (We pronounced Papa Pawpaw.)


Reflections

Papa Wayne was ornery and gruff, but he was also exceedingly generous. He would send us cards for our birthdays with a ten-dollar bill inside. However, the cards were never birthday cards. We received Easter cards, Christmas cards, Halloween cards (I once received a sympathy card) for our birthdays. But it was Papa, and his eccentricities were endearing.

Oh, Papa.

He would randomly give us watches and other knickknacks. He once gave my brother a watch with a Chinese dictator on it. The watch’s second hand was literally a hand, curled into a pointing position, so it constantly looked like the man was haranguing whoever saw the watch.

Oh, Papa.

He gave of his time, too. For my high school graduation, he drove down to Dallas unannounced and spent the night in his car, as if we wouldn’t have given him a bed in which to sleep.

Oh, Papa.

Jared remembers Papa coming to his state cross country meets in 2013 and 2015, even though he could barely walk. He got to see Jared achieve all-state in cross country in 2015. Papa being there meant the world to Jared.

Oh, Papa.

Both of my siblings remember referring to Honey Bunches of Oats as Papa’s cereal. He’d have it every time we saw him. Papa wasn’t the most affectionate person, but my sister reminded me he’d always give us hugs with a strong pat on the back that would just about knock the air out of us.

Oh, Papa.

Papa Wayne always made time for his North Carolina grandchildren when they made the trek to Oklahoma City. They’d all go to Hideaway, and he’d ask them if they were behaving themselves. They would collectively say they were, and then ask him if he was behaving himself. Without fail, he would say, “No,” and he’d chuckle at his own mischievousness. In truth, he probably wasn’t behaving himself. He was such a mess.

Oh, Papa.

Several years ago, Papa’s memory started to fail him. I vividly remember the first time he didn’t recognize me. That was hard. He was diagnosed with dementia shortly thereafter.

Oh, Papa.

Last year, I went out to eat with him and my parents. I sat by him, and he asked my mother if I was Rachel. My mom said, “No, this is Sarah, our middle daughter.”

It didn’t quite register for him, but I leaned over and said, “Don’t worry. They forget my name all the time.”

He laughed as only he laughed. He continued to chuckle for several minutes. That is one of my proudest moments, and I decided then that even if he no longer recognized me, I’d do my best to make him laugh and smile when I was around him—this, of course, wasn’t hard.

Oh, Papa.

Papa loved to laugh, and he gave every joke a hearty chuckle (especially his own). Sometimes you had to repeat a joke until he heard it, deaf as he was, but he always laughed when he got it.

Oh, Papa.

He loved telling stories and having all eyes on him. He was outgoing, ever the salesman, and he never met a stranger. Before communicating became so hard for him, he constantly tried to connect his friends with one another. He had so many acquaintances; it was easy for him to see how introducing two people could be mutually beneficial. Sometimes he created the most awkward situations in pursuit of introducing strangers.

Oh, Papa.

In recent years, my dad often received calls from Papa’s friends Wilma and her daughter Diana. We always knew what that meant. “What’d Papa do now?” Usually, he had fallen doing something an eighty-plus year old had no business doing.

Oh, Papa.

I compared him to a Timex on more than one occasion. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Oh, Papa.

Papa had to be moving, he didn’t do well remaining stationary. Nothing could slow him down. The struggle to take his car keys away? World. War. Three.

Oh, Papa.

All of us remember how many stinking cars he had on his property. Katie and Kristen counted them once. Twenty. Twenty cars. Of course, most of them were sunken so far into the ground his backyard looked like a haunted car graveyard.

Oh, Papa.

But twenty cars weren’t enough, apparently; he constantly acquired more cars, and he would sell and trade them as if they were baseball cards. One time, he ended up with a school bus in his driveway. A school bus.

Oh, Papa. Only you.

Some of the things he did could only make you shake your head. He was stubborn and had the hardest head, in every sense of that phrase. He was determined, independent, and worked hard at all his endeavors—particularly the obscure ones.

Oh, Papa.

Papa Wayne was gruff and ornery, but most of all, he loved his family; showing us by being present, giving off-the-wall advice, and making everyone laugh.

Oh, Papa.

God is going to have his hands full—especially if there are cars in heaven. Can you say black market?

Oh, Papa.

Oh, Papa.

Oh, Papa, how we love you.

 

3 Replies to “Oh, Papa”

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