Each year of my recent existence, my Pawpaw entrusted me with one simple but important job.
Before the Atlanta Braves began each new season, I was asked to print the team’s schedule so he would know when the games were and who the Braves faced.
There was but one stipulation. The schedule had to be big enough for him to be able to see it while he rested in his recliner.
I always tried my best to give it to him before Opening Day rolled around, but I was a few games late this year.
I got some gentle reminders about it, but when I finally brought it to him and made sure he could see it he smiled and said, “Yeah! Thank ya, buddy!”
When my sister called and told me of the plan for each of Pawpaw’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren to pick something to put into his flower arrangements at the funeral home last week, I hurriedly chose the schedule.
I guess she retrieved it from the drawer in the table by his recliner, right where I knew it would be, because I saw it sticking out of a bouquet of flowers beside his casket.
It was there along with some pieces of duct tape, with which Pawpaw could fix anything, some Chapstick, which he’d rub all over our faces if he felt we needed it, some “Walmart dollars,” which were always in steady supply when we were little and several other things that represented memories we shared with him.
My Pawpaw accomplished a lot during his 83 years on Earth, and he lived his life well. When the time came for him to leave this world July 19 none of us expected it, but Pawpaw was ready. He left us with what is now a treasure trove of advice, hilarious memories and a tremendous example of rock-solid faith.
The lessons Pawpaw taught us are way too numerous to list. I don’t know if he meant to teach me this one, but I rarely saw him when he wasn’t enjoying life.
He enjoyed spending time with his family, and we enjoyed spending time with him. He enjoyed spending time with Nana, whom he met through letters they wrote while he was fighting overseas. When he came home from Korea after the war, he found her and married her a few months later.
They were married almost 63 years.
Pawpaw enjoyed working, and he passed his work ethic to his four children.
They got his kindness, his fairness and his love for people, too.
He was funny in a way only he could be, and he loved to laugh.
There may or may not be a lot of good men in this world, but Pawpaw was, and is, one of the best I’ve ever known. In my eyes words, and especially these, will never be able to do him justice.
There’s a lot of things I’ll always remember about Pawpaw, but there is one thing he did I hope I will always continue to do as well.
He counted his blessings, and one of the greatest blessings we’ve seen since July 19 is the overwhelming outpouring of love and support we have experienced.
My family and I would like to say thank you for the mountain of food, cards, flowers, visits, thoughts and prayers sent our way.
It has all been extremely uplifting, and it is greatly appreciated.
Since Pawpaw’s not here I may not print out this year’s football bowl schedule right away or hustle to print a Braves’ one before next opening day, but I won’t need it because his schedule is right inside my desk drawer.
Each time I look at it I’ll remember Pawpaw.
I’ll count each memory I have with him a blessing, and I’ll be thankful for those memories until I see him again.