He was a brother born in the very middle of a large family. Stories from his childhood show his loyalty and love for his family, with a spirit of fun about him.
He loved the Lord first and foremost. He was a warrior, faithfully serving his country in World War II.
He was a loving husband to his very best friend for 65 years, and a faithful father to all his children.
He was a hard worker, working as a farmer for much of his life, and then assisting others when having a farm on his own was too much.
He was an explorer who loved to visit new places. After retiring, they traveled the country, discovering new adventures at every stop.
To describe him in a word, I would say: passionate.
I knew him best as my Papaw. I will always remember the joy and excitement radiating from him when we came to visit. We felt like his world revolved around us.
He was so proud of all his family. We never doubted that or his love for us.
That same passion he had for all other areas of his life extended to his six grandchildren, and eventually his 11 great-grandchildren.
I've had a hard few days. After 89 years in this world, Papaw left us.
There have been more than a few minutes of ugly cries. We were "prepared," if you can say that. It has not made any of it easier.
How do you process death with your children? Even at the ages of my children, death is a bit foreign. Honestly, I'm glad for that.
No one enjoys having to think through it, and I know I want to guard the hearts of my children as much as possible.
Death is a part of our world, though, and we need to know how to walk through it.
I think it should be done quite simply. Someone we love has died. It happened because we live in an imperfect world and these physical bodies we have cannot last forever.
But we have the comforting promise from the Lord that our spirits have a place with Him in heaven. That is where our loved one is now.
We should share, quite truthfully, that death is not easy. It leaves confusion and loss and fear in its wake.
There will most likely be an empty space in our hearts, and that is OK. We were made with emotions, and dealing with them is a part of growing up and living life.’
And we will cry. Ugly cries of mourning and maybe regret when we don't think we have done enough by the end.
Those cries are for us, and what we have lost. That is a normal part of being human. We don't need to cry for the person, though. They are all right and there is nothing to fear for them or us.
There is a time for mourning, and in that time we recognize our weakness, our inability to control our emotions. But the Lord can be there in our weakness, and replace it with His strength.
It may sound trite to say it, but it is truth. I know I can lean on the Lord and praise him, even in the midst of a storm and He will give me what I need for each step in my life.
Death is a time to teach our families to trust in something bigger than what we ourselves can do. It is a time to remember how that person's life has enriched our own.
I will always miss my Papaw. It is not a spot that will be easily filled. I don't want it to be. He has left a legacy for me – of loving big and passionately; of serving the Lord wholeheartedly and passing that on to my children and grandchildren; of living a life well-lived and being ready for the next adventure.
I love you Papaw, forever and always.
Death is a time to teach our families to trust in something bigger than what we ourselves can do.