KJ and I talk and think a lot about what kind of parents we hope to be, and what kind of legacy we want to leave to our child(ren). This week definitely put those thoughts into overdrive. We lost Papacito this week. He was my grandmother’s husband of just over 10 years, but I don’t recall a time in my life that I didn’t know him. He and his wife were best friends with Meme and Daddygene. They traveled together, had a business together, and did all the things you would expect that lifelong friends would do. When Daddygene died, Gail and Toopie were family to us and to my grandmother especially. They helped her so much with all that she needed after suddenly losing her husband. After Gail’s wife died, Meme was there to help and support him as he had her. That friendship turned into love, they married, and we officially adopted Gail into our family. The only blood we shared was that of Jesus, but he was ours and saying goodbye for now has been tough.
Over the course of the week, so many stories were told about Gail and the impact he had on so many people. He and my Meme live in a tiny East Texas town. Gail was very involved both in business and civic organizations. He only retired last year from his post on the board of directors at the bank. So many people came to my Meme to tell about how they were able to go to college because of some scholarship money Gail gave them (often out of his own pocket without any recognition), people who were grateful for Gail giving them their very first job and countless others who were blessed and changed by the way he chose to live his life. He valued hard work so very much, and wanted to help people be successful. I hope that I can be generous with my time, knowledge and resources like he was. I want Baby Lamb to work hard and give generously just like he did. The very first check that came into the garage sale was from Papacito, and when we bring home our baby it will be possible partly because of his support.
The other impact this week had on me was a renewed and more deep desire to be like the women in my family. My mom was wonderful, and I could write a whole book about the things about her I want to be. My mom passed away when I was 18, and the Lord knew before the foundation of the world that I would need some women to mother me long after my mother was gone. So He gave me my Meme and my Auntie. Since they have been there since before I was, they have a unique perspective. You can tell people all about your experiences, but there’s nothing like people who lived those experiences right along with you. You would be hard pressed to find women who love each other more than we do or any who are more protective of each other. These two women are wise, hard workers, successful and the kind you really want in your corner. They single-handedly planned the most fun wedding there ever was-on foreign soil no less. (It also just happened to be my wedding) They can just as easily make a Tuesday night family dinner feel like an extravaganza even when you’re eating off of a paper plate-a cute one-and drinking out of a plastic glass-personalized with a sharpie of course! But this week, I watched my grandmother say goodbye to a third spouse. It hit me in a unique way this time since I have a spouse now. She was gracious and kind to hundreds of people as they filed in and out of a funeral home, and welcomed many of them into her own home. She is far too well acquainted with being in the front of a funeral procession. In the words of the great Dolly Parton, “When it comes to suffering, she’s right up there with Elizabeth Taylor!” She’s strong because she has to be, and she is the very first to tell you, because she has a very strong God. Before we walked into the chapel for the funeral, “Because He Lives” was playing softly. She said right then and there in that terribly hard moment the words of that song would be her focus-Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. The next few days, weeks and months will be the picture of her living that out. I know this, because I have seen her do just that in the face of unimaginable grief so many times before. My Auntie was the daughter every mother would dream of. She was like a duck-scrambling beneath the surface and calm and graceful up front. She kept all of us informed of what was going on, and how we needed to help. She organized meals, ordered flowers, gathered clothes, made sure everyone had a bed to sleep in all the while making sure Meme didn’t have to be alone or without her lipgloss. She honored her Mother just like God told us to, and she did it well. She will be the one to help and comfort her in all the hard days and months ahead. Sure, the rest of us will help in our way, but Auntie will be the coordinator. Meme is the CEO of our family, and Auntie is the Chief Operating Officer. Lord, please make me like these women. I want to be that kind of strong in the face of the worst life can throw at us. I want to be the kind of person that people just know will get it all taken care of and taken care of well in any situation-especially a hard one. I want my love for Jesus to be that evident, and I want to be that gracious and hospitable in even the worst of circumstances. THIS is my legacy, and I pray I will step into it and pass it along to those behind me.
Papacito, you are loved, you are so missed and the impact you have had on us will live for many generations to come.