Saturday, September 29, 2007

Remembering My Dad

My Dad wasn't perfect. In fact, he drove me positively crazy at times. He had diabetes, high blood pressure, and bi-polar disorder. Sometimes he took his medications religiously, ate a proper diet, and tried to take care of himself. And sometimes he decided that he didn't need to do any of that. I was always nagging him about his health, which I think secretly pleased him. No one else in our family had attended college, and he was so proud that his daughter was a registered nurse. He also enjoyed the attention he got when I was nagging him.

My Dad was like a big ol' kid in a lot of ways. He liked to have fun. He was a trusting, loving person. There was no such thing as a stranger to him; within minutes of meeting anyone, they would have an invitation to drop by his house anytime (and they would). He was generous and liked to help people. He was a big talker, both in person and on the phone.
He was a simple, genuine person. What you saw was what you got. He didn't hide it when he was happy, he didn't hide it when he was discouraged. He didn't put on airs. He was just Mike, Daddy, Papaw.

I've never seen a person who enjoyed his grandchildren as much as my Dad. He loved playing with them, and they loved his silliness. Some of the best memories I have of him is watching him play with his grandchildren. I'm blessed to have videos of him playing with them that I can watch when I am especially missing him. I can still see so clearly him bounding down his porch steps, arms wide open, and the delight on his face when we would pull into his drive and unload the kids. Caveman would run across his yard yelling "Paaaapaaaaaaaw!" and dive into his arms.

Next to his grandchildren, one of the things that brought him joy was music. He loved to sing, especially at church, and he always wanted to learn to play piano and guitar. He would go through periods where he would practice in earnest, but he never stuck with it. Instead, he contented himself to listen to his daughter and son play. It pleased him to no end that I taught myself to play piano and my brother taught himself guitar.

He loved motorcycles. I'll never forget when he first bought a motorcycle. He had talked about it for years, but I never thought he'd do it. I thought it was SO cool! I immediately got him to teach me to ride, and he was as proud of that as he was anything else I had done. He prompted me to buy a motorcycle of my own. The pride on his face was obvious as he introduced me to the old bikers that he hung around with, especially when I was the only woman in the group riding solo.

He loved trains, especially old steam engines. He was delighted that his son-in-law and grandson shared his fascination with trains, and they took many excursions to see old steam engines that were passing through.

He loved cold weather. He loved woodstoves, especially the old cast-iron kind. Wintertime at his house always smelled of freshly chopped wood and a wood fire in the stove. He didn't want anything to do with central heat. He always nagged me to turn mine off and use my fireplaces, and he would drop everything to come build me a fire. For some reason, I can never keep mine burning. I've had him show me dozens of times how to get a fire going, but I just don't have "the touch." Thankfully, Bear does.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of him and wish that he had been given a little longer to stay here with us. My phone is too quiet. I can still hear his voice saying…"I was just checkin' on ya." I don't have a place to drop the kids off for a few hours when they have me pulling my hair out. There's no one to come help me move a heavy piece of furniture or figure out "what's making that noise" while Bear is working long hours. I miss him terribly in the fall; the cold weather brought out the little kid in him. He and Sunshine have birthdays a day apart, and we always celebrated their birthdays together. He looked forward to meeting his newest granddaughter, Gem, and he would have enjoyed her sharing a birthday with them (the three of their birthdays are within three days of each other.) Although I didn't get to see him fussing over her, I am certain he is tickled that she inherited his chin dimple. He's probably pointed it out to everyone in heaven by now. Numerous times.
He loved Thanksgiving and would ask "Are you going to make me a pumpkin pie?" Of course I would. I would always scold him "Now Daddy, you really don't need a second piece." He would get a sheepish look on his face and ignore my fussing.

My sorrow is selfish; he wants for nothing now that he is HOME. Everyone who knew him knew that he loved the Lord. He did his best to serve Him. I am confident that I know where he is today. I am confident that he loves us just as he always has, and that he knows how much we love and miss him. He is praying for us just as he always has, he is cheering us on as we finish our race, and he will be waiting for us at the finish line. I look forward to the day when I will see him again.

Here's a picture of Gem alongside a picture of her Papaw as a baby...

See the chin dimple? It was one of the first things I noticed when I first saw her. Neither my brother or I inherited it, and she is the first of my children to inherit it. Nobody in Greg's family has one, either.


  1. Wow Paula. I didn't know your dad, but your comments make me wish that I did.

  2. OK, this made me cry. It brought back so many memories...the boys are still too emotional and couldn't read it. He made such an impact on them - they all were so close. Jeremy especially, as he still talks about them going to Mountain Home and playing with the guys on stage, them going to see the Steam Engine, going fishing, and just playing together, always with a lesson to be learned. They had lots of excursions like that! And yes, he was SO PROUD of you...with good reason! Thanks so much for sharing your Daddy with everybody today!