We traveled to my hometown for my dear Papaw Sam's funeral a couple weeks ago. Besides the time spent on all the details and logistics that go into planning a funeral, there was a lot of time spent swinging and rocking on the front porch, eating the heaps of food brought by generous family friends, loving on our nieces. Papaw would have loved it.
It's such a unique time when you're all together for a funeral. My sister's co-worker called in "sad fun" because you're together but not for the circumstances you'd prefer. And it was just that. My sadness has lingered more than expected because I will miss Papaw terribly; very few people in my life have made me feel as deeply loved as he did. I think it's also because of the reality that our days our numbered with the greatest generation of who my Papaw was one the greatest examples: full of humility and diligence. A generation giving way to the next, much faster than we’d all like. May we all take intentional time to soak up some wisdom like we have been so blessed to receive from our Papaw.
Because of how close I was to Papaw and because of how much I've learned from him in my lifetime, I've always known I wanted to speak at his funeral. And because I want you to know how wonderful my Papaw was, I've included my speech below.
“To know him is to love him,” could not have been truer of my Papaw Sam. And though I am so sad to say goodbye to one of my very favorite people that I have ever known, I am overwhelmed with pride as I think through all the different characteristics that I could share with you today.
I could share about his deep, deep love. The kind only grandfathers possess. The kind of love that thinks his grandbabies could do no wrong. The kind of love that is never too busy and certainly not too proud. After all, he played countless hours of house with me in the backyard: fully in character as my little boy and I his mama. And fully willing to take a nap on his work bench like I demanded and for as long as I demanded. He was never too busy to help us shoot our first gun, to walk down to the pond to feed the ducks with stale sandwich bread in tow, to write the kindest of birthday cards year after year. It seemed nothing in the world mattering to him except to be fully with us in those moments. Especially as life’s pace only continues to increase, I can see what a rare and beautiful gift that was.
I could share about how enabling our Papaw was. How his words and his action provided us with heaps of abilities and confidence, making us feel like we could do or be or accomplish anything. And whether we were successful at it or not, we knew he was proud. Because he said so. He could even use something as simple as a trip to McDonalds. Story goes that he’d send Molly’s little blonde-headed self to the counter, telling her to order whatever she wanted and to just get him the same. So there they sit in my mind’s eye, sharing so much more than just happy meals. In the eyes of Papaw, we could do anything we imagined. And with love that strong, you couldn’t help but believe so too. When I left for college, he wrote me a letter that remains framed in every place we’ve lived since. He told me to “remember that I was Meagan, with the ability to choose the good things in life with no regrets.” Those few intentional lines have rippled such confidence through my life and my decisions.
There are really endless qualities of Papaw Sam that I would be proud to share. But for now I’d like to tell you about Papaw the Caretaker. As a diligent steward in all aspects of life, Papaw taught us what consistency looks like even in the least glamorous of tasks. You could always find him tending to the house or the yard, fiddling in his workshop or on the cars, or seeing to his rose garden. He selflessly wanted us to be prepared for anything – always taking the time to think of something we may need, some wisdom he should share with us. Always sending a boost in the funds to us poor college students. I like to think of him even as a caretaker of his country – serving as a marine in two wars and instilling in us such pride for our veterans. He was a faithful constant at Emmanuel Baptist in Minden. And, so I’ve heard, a class favorite here at FBC when he was able to attend. And even days before the end of his life, his greatest concern was not for himself but for his family. Papaw the Caretaker showed all of us what a faithful marriage looked like. A marriage to my amazing Mamaw that thrived for over 68 years. What a catch they had in one another. And with that role of husband, he nurtured a lasting family dynamic. One of loyalty and of faith. Even in his living he was our caretaker as he prepared us, possibly unknowingly, for his death. Because of his legacy, we have siblings and children, aunts, uncles, and cousins to lean on and cry with through his loss. Most importantly, through his life that reflected his faith in Jesus, he taught us that our hope is in the Lord - offering us peace knowing that he is spending eternity with Jesus. There is no greater gift.
Even though in the eyes of the baby granddaughter, Papaw could do no wrong, we won’t tell you he was perfect. What we will tell you that, because of his 94 years, we are better people, better fathers and mothers, better spouses, better employees and church members, and better followers of Jesus.
We will miss you terribly Papaw. We will remember your sweet smile, your big hands, your long jokes and stories. We will remember your lessons and your love. And we will do our best to live remembering one of my favorite saying of yours: to remember that life is a big bundle of little things, so have a little fun each day. We love you.