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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hall of Fame Evening and Pawpaw's 88th Birthday Celebration

On October 19th, my amazing Pawpaw was inducted into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame for his talent on the basketball court and his years of service to the university as the Manager of the Student Center.  Pawpaw was not well enough to attend the dinner, but numerous family members were there to celebrate the wonderful honor.  My Uncle Dean spoke on behalf of my grandfather and gave a great speech detailing Pawpaw's years spent fighting for our country in WWII.  My grandfather flew numerous missions as a tailgunner in the war.  He was such a humble man, that he rarely spoke of this time in his life, so it was nice to be reminded of his days of being a hero to our country, long before he became a hero to all of us.

After the dinner we all went out to the nursing home to celebrate Pawpaw's 88th birthday.  He was able to come down to the conference room so that we could present him with his Hall of Fame plaque and tell him about a scholarship that had been established in his name.  We also sang Happy Birthday to him and enjoyed cake.  Even though he felt terrible, you could tell his heart was smiling to be surrounded by so much of his family.  As I left that evening, I hugged him and told him how much I loved him.  He told me that he loved me too.  That was the last time I spent with my sweet Pawpaw.

One week and one day later, my mom called to tell me that he was not doing well at all and that she was heading to Abilene.  Before she could get out of town, the Lord called him home.  In true Pawpaw fashion, he held on for two big milestones - the Hall of Fame induction and his final birthday.  Losing him has been extremely hard!  He was such a huge presence in our lives and our family.  His death has left a large void, but we rejoice that he is now in Heaven, free of pain, probably playing tennis and mowing yards.  Since breaking his hip in May, his health had been on a downward spiral and we knew that is not the way he would want to live.  So we lost our beloved grandfather, great grandfather, husband, father, brother, uncle, and friend, but Heaven gained a precious angel.

We traveled to Abilene for the funeral, which was extremely moving.  Before the service started, I looked up to find Lindsy, my best friend since middle school.  She made the trip to be there, despite her mother being in the hospital.  That meant the world to me!!!!  Linz - thank you for always being there for me!  My aunt began the service by singing Amazing Grace - a very moving tribute.  Then, my uncle and mom both spoke about the sweet memories they will always cherish.  As the service drew to a close they played a recording of my mom, aunt, and uncle singing Daddy's Hands (upon Pawpaw's request).  I don't think there was a dry eye in the church!  What a beautiful way to honor their father.  My grandmother was the picture of strength, proudly listening to others tell stories about her husband of 65 years.  Their marriage has always been an example for all of us to follow, but especially in the last few months, as Nana traveled daily to go and visit Pawpaw.  She fed him, encouraged him, and most of all loved him, through the good times and the bad times.  Her love and commitment never failed.  Nana - thank you for teaching by example of what a Godly wife should be and for being so strong throughout these past months.  Pawpaw loved you so very much!  I know that you long for the day of your reunion with him, but until then we will love you and lift you up in prayer each day.

Each of the grandchildren wrote down some of the many lessons they learned from Pawpaw and we included them in the program.  I would like to share what I wrote.

Pawpaw was a simple man who didn’t need fancy things or technology to make him happy.  He found joy in his faith, his precious wife, his family, and his friends.  He was a loyal and dependable man of his word.  On the night that my dad passed away, he and Nana drove me from Abilene to Fort Worth.  He explained that he had lost his own father when he was my age.  He told me that he would never try to take the place of my dad, but that he would always be there for me, willing to help – and he always was!  I learned many important lessons from my PawPaw.  Here are a few - don’t wear your shoes in the shower.  Don’t squat with your spurs on.  Clabber is always a drink option.  Cell phones, call waiting, and answering machines are not necessary – a blue rotary phone will work just fine.  Needle-nose pliers are a great tool for pulling teeth.  When you do lose a tooth, don’t wash it off in the sink without plugging the drain first.  Two televisions side-by-side are a requirement during football season.  The best place to store your glasses is in your sock.  It is perfectly okay to send a Christmas card in July.  McDonald’s styrofoam cups are better than any coffee mug you can find.  Always have a plan and a list – expect the best, but be prepared for the worst.  If you are going to do something - give 100%, or don’t do it at all.  Always fight for the underdog.  Befriend those who have been overlooked by society, and take care of the needy.  Never miss an opportunity to tell someone how proud you are of them and how much you love them.  He will be greatly missed!  I love you PawPaw! – Melissa

At the cemetary we were able to witness an amazing sight.  Since Pawpaw was a veteran, they had acitve duty soldiers on hand to honor his service to our country.  One soldier played the bugle and the other two folded the flag that was draping the coffin and presented it to my grandmother.  I think that this tradition is so beautiful and I am so glad I was there to witness this honor.  Overall, it was a perfect celebration of a life well lived.  We will miss Pawpaw dearly, but will treasure our memories and the legacy that he left behind.

Brooklyn and Tayden often ask about Pawpaw.  On Saturday, a few hours after he passed away, Brooklyn said, "I want to go see Pawpaw."  I told her that he had gone to live in Heaven.  Without hesitation, she then said, "He's not sick anymore.  Hooray!"

Uncle Dean

Hall of Fame and Scholarship

Happy Birthday

Presenting him his honors

My cousin Kasey

Some precious pictures from the past few years:

Tayden and Pawpaw

Christmas 2011

2010 - Brooklyn and Pawpaw

Loving on their new crop of great grandbabies