“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

This is not 100% accurate for the post that will follow, but it generally spoke to me on what I wanted to write. I’ve been sitting on wanting to write this since the day I attended my Pawpaw’s funeral, so over a month. I know when people attend things, a front row seat is optimal, even praise-worthy depending on said event. I had a front row seat that day. This was not optimal or praise-worthy. I have been lucky to never be part of the family section of a funeral before. Yes, I’ve had great uncles and aunts die, my great-great grandmother and both great grandmother’s died after I was born, I don’t remember. The only funeral I remember was my cousin Tim’s a few years ago, he was 18. But we didn’t exactly share a lineage. We didn’t have passed on traits, mannerisms or the same last name. But my Pawpaw was the first of my grandparents to leave me. It was expected. Not that exact day by any means but he had been in a hospital bed for seven years. He had a stroke they think and then got progressively worse over the years. He started to not know who anyone was except his wife and one son. By the end, he had another stroke they think and wouldn’t wake up hardly at all or eat. So they knew, it was only a matter of days and his body would be too tired to hang on. My Nana and Uncle Drew both stayed up or took turns making sure that the moment he passed from here to Heaven, he was not alone. He didn’t know. But my Nana couldn’t bear him being alone in that split second from Earth to Heaven. So she held his hand till the end. When it came time for the service in the church (he was cremated) some of his favorite hymns were played and a bunch of covers of gospel songs Elvis did. Apparently he loved Elvis and Johnny Cash. The color blue, Wendy’s burgers run through twice to be extra done, and his nickname was “ginger” and I still don’t know why. My grandma wore blue the day of the service. My Uncle spoke and I learned Pawpaw had played Santa in his younger years on a local tv station during Christmas answering letters from kids on the air and when there were not enough letters he would write them himself, naming the kids after his co-workers or whoever he knew in real life. Then my Nana spoke and that was it. My other Uncle couldn’t speak he was too upset and my dad didn’t go. Since he hasn’t spoken to his parents since basically him and my mom divorced 23 years ago. The Preacher asked if any other family wanted to speak. There was really no one there.  My Nana, both Uncle’s, my sister and I, my Uncle’s “adopted” daughter Chassie and some niece of Pawpaws I’ve never met who looked like an old biker chick. Well, I had prepared no speech. I forgot they asked that and since it was my first VIP funeral I didn’t know. But I thought my Pawpaw deserved more than two people to speak at his funeral. Tons of his friends were there and church people but no one moved. So I went up there. I had already been crying due to my Uncle. I didn’t know what to say. I had not seen my Pawpaw aware and knowing who I was in over ten years. I left for a whirlwind marriage and the Army after two years of college when I was 19. I didn’t visit often and thanks to my parents divorce, before in High School we didn’t see those grandparents often. My mom wouldn’t take us and of course my dad wouldn’t. My Nana deals with depression so sometimes she said it was too painful to see us because of our dad. I had barely any memories of my Pawpaw from recent years. All I could remember was that he always had chocolate milk when we visited when we were little, not like you mixed syrup and milk, the real stuff. We always went to the Gadsden mall and ate at this one trashy pizza place we apparently loved and we always got a toy at some store. One time for Christmas I was enamored by Pee Wee Herman (before we all knew he was a creep) and Pawpaw found a cardboard cut out at some car dealership or something and that was our Christmas present. I always thought he was Santa even though I never knew he had played it on tv. He did meet my son twice. He didn’t know me but he thought I was a pretty lady and he got to actually look at Liam. Later after we had left, he asked my Nana where that monkey went. (Liam). And that was all I could say. I cried through it all, mainly ashamed I didn’t know more things to say about him. The adopted granddaughter Chassie saw him more than Emma and I. I said I hoped that he knew we loved him. Chassie sang after I spoke and she said a few words which put mine to shame about what a great man he was and how he had raised great sons (sans my father). I didn’t say any of that. I just said things about my Pawpaw that I loved. Sitting here I still feel a bad pull inside for not knowing him better or seeing him more. I never knew how he felt about me being in the Army or anything of my adult life. I don’t know why he lost his job at the Steel mill a long time ago or why he decided to write for the Gadsden Times after that. All I know is my Nana did everything she should have and he went to Heaven because he believed in that and he was a good man. 

I don’t expect any responses just wanted to get this out somewhere. 


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