Here is the tribute I did to my Papa at his funeral on Sunday. I miss him so much already.
Papa Loves You
As one of the oldest grandchildren, I have had a unique relationship with Papa. Chris and I had him all to ourselves until little Amanda came along. During that time, he was a steady ballgame goer, concert attender, marching competition watcher, and kickball game cheerer. I can’t remember a single time when Nana and Papa weren’t at one one of our events. Even Chris’s attempt at football and my attempt at basketball. It wasn’t pretty, but he was there. As I’ve been trying to think about what to say about Papa, a short phrase keeps coming to mind: “Papa loves you.” Every time we got in our van as kids, he would walk to the window, do one last outer, and say “Papa loves you.”
When sweet Mandums came along, I noticed quickly that she got the same Papa I did. Even though it was years after he became one. He and Nana drove miles and miles to see that sweet baby. He was there for her as she rode horses, practiced softball, and broke that infamous ornament she apparently didn’t like. He still looked at her, did one last outer, and said “Papa loves you.”
After that, it seems, my 2 sweet Aunties were in a competition to see who could pop out the most babies! Emily’s sweet face joined the family and, oh my word, was she loved. Nana and Papa drove again to see her and, if I’m not mistaken, Papa actually saw the birth of this one! She must truly be special. I remember when they finally moved back home to Texas how excited Nana and Papa both were. Emily, he loved to watch you cheer and was so so proud of you. Ryan came along shortly after that and Papa got his second grandson. A sweet baby that Papa loved with all his heart. He loved to scratch your back and tell you stories and run around the yard with you. Then came Katie, another precious granddaughter. Katie, Papa loved you so much. He enjoyed your continuous performances with the other girls and even up until recently I could see in his face how much fun he had watching you beat box and play your flute (and even do both at the same time!) for the family. And then came Adam, the last grandson. He took such joy in caring for you and taking you to McDonalds. Even though you aren’t as old as the rest of us, and Papa got a little sicker and a little older the last couple of years, he made every effort to be there for you. He loved you so. I was amazed to see, as each of you came along, that he still played with you, just like he played with me and Chris. Playing the bop up game, the pen game, asking us to tickle his hand, and hiding that toothpick in his mouth, convincing us that he swallowed it. He loved us all so very much.
I would be leaving out a very special person if I didn’t mention Chris. He came before me, but we grew up with Papa together. Chris and Papa would share some amazing conversations that I wish, now, I had been a part of. Chris, Papa loved hearing from you, even in his last days on mom’s phone. Even though you’ve been far away the last few years, he would always talk about you when you werent’ around. About how much he loved you and missed you.
And I am one lucky momma because my sweet children, all 6 of them that I’ve had, have gotten to know Papa. Even though the first 5 came to us in a nontraditional way, he loved them as his own great grandchildren. Mari, Bella, Addie, and Davis, he was so proud to be your Papa. Even with my own, children we would load up in the car to head back to Austin and he would come out to the car, do one last outer, and say “Papa loves you.” And they loved him so so much.
Dear sweet brother, and cousins, and my sweet babies, Papa loved you. I hope and pray you remember that as we all get older and begin to have our own families. Remember how he would come out of the garage, walk over to the car, and say “Papa loves you.”
In this season, it’s easy to think that death and suffering is unfair and wrong. It’s easy to ask “why?” and “couldn’t we have more time, Lord?” But I truly believe that the Lord wants us to still remember that baby, laying in a manger. The loving God we have who came down to be like us so he could experience grief like us. That in sending His son to us, God was reaching down from the heavens and saying, “Papa loves you, child.” Remember that before Christ raised his friend, Lazarus from the dead, he wept. He knew he was going to heal him, but he wept with Mary and Martha first. And before he took Papa home, he wept with us. Because our Papa God loves us.
I believe Papa is now a member of the great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on as we run our race to the end. I am comforted knowing that we will meet again someday and that he is up there cheering me on saying, “Papa loves you.”