I escaped from Walmart’s widened aisles awaiting a deluge of Black-Friday-on-Thursday night shoppers. Sky: dazzling blue. Wind: minimal. Temperature: perfect for sweat shirt.
I parked close, a great benefit in coming before the storm. I approached my truck, triggered the locks, opened the door, and had three bags in mid hoist when it caught my eye, sitting in the back seat, with a seat belt trailing across it.
A bright yellow card was addressed to “Pappaw” in Claire’s handwriting. She’s great at birthdays, and who-wants-what-for-Christmas.
I first thought, “How could a card addressed to Pappaw, to the man who adopted my mom, to a WW1 vet returned to Texas to build an F.W. Woolworth in Temple TX, who was a chair of deacons for 20 years, who toured the west with Mammaw, my sister and I in a trailer, and whose funeral I conducted forty years ago leave a card addressed to him in my truck?”
Avalanches of thought tumble out quickly.
My daughter-in-law who never met my Pappaw, addressed my birthday card using the “grandparent” name I chose for me. The envelope had fallen into the seat as I collected the fleece and card two nights ago.
And I missed him. Ached. And I thought I’ll never attain to his stature in my life in my grandkids’ eyes.
And in missing him, I saw my hope of heaven is far deeper than I admit. From this year’s bumper crop of people dying to leave this world, few will be missed by their own family in a generation. The memories of the remainder will recede in the future’s busy world.
If Pappaw’s story continues to affect anyone on my passing, his story must remain his to tell in heaven. Think of it another way. If many remember JFK, Luther, Newton, C.S. Lewis or Tolkien: that’s nothing to them, meaningless with no heaven. Legacies do nothing for the deceased.
One of his hopes is certain. He never wanted to burden Mammaw. So, he wrote my sister a letter @ 5 a.m. that Saturday, dressed for work (at age 78!), sat in his rocker, and was gone. No burden: granted. His other hope? Was to sing in heaven.
Picking up the yellow envelope I prayed once more his hope is confirmed, so I’ll see him again and apologize for slip streaming into both his names: Thomas L. and Pappaw.