Many of you who follow me on Instagram saw that my PawPaw died a week ago today (September 12). He was an incredible human and role-model for me. I was lucky enough to live in the same city as him and my MeMe, so we were all extremely close. Tuesday afternoon, during the hustle and bustle of funeral planning, I volunteered to write and deliver his eulogy. I am not a gifted writer by any means, but I believe I can get my point across. Plus, I thought it would be better to share my experience growing up with him then have someone who didn’t know him as well do it.
This post is primarily for my family, but maybe someone else out there will find it helpful.
Before I begin, I just want to thank everyone who came today to pay their respects to my PawPaw, JC. Whether he was your husband, daddy, PawPaw, great-grandfather, uncle, cousin, friend, or just someone you have heard about from one of us, I am sure he made an impact on you. He would be so humbled by all of you here today, and I have heard from so many of you how much you admired him.
For those of you who do not know me, I am one of JC’s 8 grandchildren. When I received the call Tuesday morning, I experienced a wave of bittersweet emotions. I was devastated knowing I won’t get to feel his embrace here on Earth again, but I know that he is rejoicing in Heaven with our Father who he served every day of his Earthly life.
When I think of my PawPaw, a few words come to mind- faithful, hard-working, strong, humble, kind, funny, handsome and loving.
My PawPaw is one of the strongest Christian men I have ever met. He lived his life faithful to God and to his family. JC met my MeMe, Kathryn, when he was 20, and they were married 2 years later. Together, they had three beautiful daughters Twila, Sherry, and my mom Pam. My mom would say he was a strict but loving father. They were at church every time the door opened. He shared the gospel with strangers and his family and helped lead countless people to Christ. He loved my MeMe with all his heart and in February they celebrated 71 years of marriage.
PawPaw was hard-working. He worked until he was 85. Later in life, he was a security guard for Texas Instruments where he spent hot summers outside monitoring the parking lot in his golf cart. There, he kept himself busy greeting people and feeding the birds. If you knew him during this time, you know all about his birds. He loved them and even worried about how they would eat when he left.
My PawPaw was strong. He was a man who could bring you to your knees with a handshake. He was so strong, yet humble and mild at the same time. I can’t think of a time I ever saw him angry, well except for the time my brother almost blew up their house by leaving the gas on. He had a way of speaking to you with authority but gentleness at the same time. Even last Christmas, he knocked my husband, Colton’s hat off his head and said “don’t wear a hat at the table, boy” but he did so with a smile.
PawPaw had a great sense of humor. A few stories come to mind, so bare with me. When he met Colton for the first time while we were in high school, the first words out of his mouth, after a strong handshake of course, was “Jessica, I thought you said he was handsome.” Even in his late 80s his sense of humor was still sharp. A few years ago MeMe was out of town and PawPaw was home by himself, so I called him on my way home to check on him. He cried on the phone and told me how much he missed MeMe, so I turned my car around to head over to his house. After about 2 minutes of this, he laughed and said “I’m just kidding. You believed me, didn’t you?” I had no idea he still had that in him.
I have the greatest last memory of him and I am so thankful that God gave our family a wonderful night together just a few days before he called him home. Colton and I were out of town for Mom’s birthday again this year, so my sister-in-love and I planned a birthday dinner for our family for when we got back. Last Friday, we had a little fiesta, complete with tacos, enchiladas, beans, rice, and sopapilla cheesecake. We all ate together and each had our own time to talk with PawPaw. He complimented me on my cooking abilities, asked for seconds, and even seemed surprised I did it “all by myself”. I think he still thought of me as his little redheaded granddaughter and forgot that I am 30. At one point during the night, we talked about what my dad would be called once Tyler and Britany’s baby is born. It was the hot topic of the night and everyone had their opinion. After going back and forth on a variety of names, some completely ridiculous, PawPaw chimed in “I like grand daddy”. We had no idea he was paying attention, but that solidified it for all of us. My dad would be grand daddy.
That night, he was able to tell all of us he loved us, even my precious mother-in-law who stopped by. Britany and I had no idea this would be our last time with PawPaw when we planned it, but it ended up being a beautiful, final memory for all of us.
I wasn’t lucky enough to grow up with two sets of grandparents, but the love I received from MeMe and PawPaw was far more than I could ever imagine from multiple sets. He was there for every school play, church performance, graduation, wedding and other life events from the time I was born. I am so lucky to have experienced 30 beautiful years with my PawPaw.
I will miss calling and hearing him ask “How do you do? And answering back “I do fine” I will miss his beautiful blue eyes and incredible smile, the way he laughs, his famous train whistle, how much he loved MeMe’s cooking, celebrating our almost twin birthdays together every year, and so much more.
I am going to end with a quick Ed Sheeran lyric
“So I’ll sing Hallelujah. You were an angel in the shape of my PawPaw.
When I fell down, you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go.
And when God takes you back, we’ll say Hallelujah.
You’re home, PawPaw. I love you, and I can’t wait to hug you again. Thank you for being such an incredible role model and support to me. We all miss you and love you so much.