We've had a pretty great ride with parenthood so far. Arleigh is a great baby. She's a singer and a chatter box. And she's OH so sweet. And she loves her Daddy. Minus the salmonella, allergies, snot and ear infections, she's been a breeze. And I have a prayer for her life. I want her to be like my Pop. Or grow in Christ even more than him. And find a man who loves the Lord as much as him. It's the circle of life. It will be his legacy.
I'm not perfect. I'm FAR from it. But at least I have fantastic role models that are leaving the right kind of legacy for me to follow. Not just my Mom and Granny, but my Pop.
Right now, as I type this out, my Pop is laying in the hospital in the comfort care (and according to his doctor) on his final few days. This afternoon, I'm headed to Columbus to be there for my Mama.
One of my favorite Pop stories is about when one of my aunts decided to run away. My mom's greatest memory of that time is that my Granddaddy stayed in his chair reading the Bible, not saying a word, the entire time she was gone. That's the Pop I want the world to remember. That's the Pop that I want to remember. That's the kind of parent I want to be. That's the kind of man I want for Arleigh. That's the kind of man everyone needs in their life.
Pop's journey to becoming a Christian is pretty amazing too. I remember him telling his story about not growing in Christ until they had Aunt Nancy, my Mom's special needs sister. In a age where babies who were different were locked away, they made the decision to turn their lives over to the Lord. How amazing is that? Instead of asking why, they made the decision to just change. Change for the better. I will always remember him as a man who expected the best from me. But most importantly, my favorite memories are when he was growing older in life, you would always find him in his chair reading and studying God's word. Even on days as a child when he wasn't plowing, fishing, hunting, or working in his shop, you would find him studying his Sunday School lesson and learning. How else can you truly grow in Christ? I'm learning more and more that no books, people or life can teach you anything for certain. The Bible is the only truth on this earth. It's the best way to hear God. Pop knew that. I hope and pray I can grow more like him. That's my prayer.
Truthfully, as hard as it is to say or even fathom, he's going to a MUCH better place. He's going to see Jesus and sit by God. This much I know. He's going to receive the riches of glory. He's going to see my Granny, and hopefully give her a big ole hug for me. Part of me is so excited for him. Our family transitioning to a new "family", without our patriarch, will be extremely difficult. Especially on my Mama, Aunts and Uncle, and my little brother.
I want to hold on to the memories. About the peppermints in his pockets on Sunday mornings for me to find when I sat beside him EVERY Sunday at church. Or P-O-P being the first word I could spell, and I remember spelling it for him over and over. How he aways had a real handkerchief. Letting us watch him in the shop or work with him in the garden as kids. Picking muscidimes to eat and catawba worms for us to go fishing, or for him to sell the worms at the lake. Skinning deer and how you never ever want to bust the stomach. How he was a sharp shooter, but he couldn't stand war. And how he didn't want to talk about his military service. How he helped my Daddy build the camphouse, and how he truly believed it existed for family. He taught us that you never mow the yard or go fishing on Sundays. Sundays were about church and family. And as kids, we did just that. When we were younger we went "visiting" on Sundays. How he loved cashews and those orange circus peanuts. How he could be tough as nails, but it was only because he had high expectations. How he would pick me up at school or take me to the doctor when I was sick. (I called my Granny when I was little and at school sick, and my Pop always came to get me.) The delayed reaction when he would pick up the phone and say ............."Hello". How I remember his work jumpsuits he always wore, always navy or green. How he ALWAYS folded his pajamas and put them under his pillow. How he loved the outdoors and was so talented and (in my mind) could fix or do just about anything. He loved wood working and making things. How he grew up in a different time...and he still would hammer out bent nails or eat half a can of chicken noodle soup. How as a kid, his Coke was a treat, and you didn't dare drink one without permission. That you better keep the back porch door shut if the air conditioner was running. How he always had a dog. And he couldn't stand the cats. (Even though I loved them, and he ALWAYS had a bunch.) Cooking his supper and making his favorite white cake with chocolate icing, and lining up the pecans on top just like Granny taught me. How he would ride his 4-wheeler or walk through the woods to our house because he hadn't seen us that day. Or as we grew older, because he heard we were were home. (But he wouldn't say that.) If we weren't at church, he would stop by to find out why. And if Mama wasn't going for whatever rare reason, you ALWAYS had a ride to or from church. He let us be kids, but respectful kids. But don't dare slide down the stairs or play in Granny's junk room. :-) How he expected us to do right and act right. (Granny, on the other hand, would let me get away with murder.) How he always called me Sis as he grew older, and how he softened with age and loved kisses on the cheek. His silly Christmas socks and his bunch of ties. How he's taught the older men's Sunday school class as long as I've been alive. How he was always clean shaven until he started going down. Pop got to be there for my wedding. He met Arleigh. He had pizza with Clarence in our living room. Last Christmas, our Pop envelope was addressed to John, Penny, Clarence and Little Penny. How he gave CLARENCE a dollar at Christmas and had a sense of humor. How he STILL used his military issued razor. How he didn't loose his sharp-as-a-tack mind. How he called Arleigh his baby. It's almost if what I remember as my Andy Griffith Mayberry childhood is going too. I have so many awesome memories. He loved us. He loved family. All of us, even my crazy dog. He even let Clarence in his house to visit. Most importantly, he took his role as a Christian seriously.
The fact is, up until fall of last year, my Pop was still plowing fields and hunting at 89. This new life, of being confined indoors and not able to participate in life, just isn't him. It's selfish to want to hold him here when he can be back to plowing fields in heaven and sitting with God.
Last Saturday, I attended a bible study on leaving a legacy. When I think of the legacy I want to leave, I think of my Pop. It's the legacy he is leaving us with, and I want to leave at least as much with Arleigh. I pray that she remembers me as I will remember Pop.
With all the prayer requests, let me encourage your prayers in a different direction. Let me encourage you to pray for the souls he touched all these years to keep on reaching and teaching others to come and grow in Christ for generations to come. Let that be his legacy. Pray for peace as our family transitions one of our best to heaven. Pray for God's will in this. Pray for us to never forget him as a man of God. Pray for all of us to be more like him, and in doing that, we will be grow closer to HIM.
1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.