Just A Little Time

A week or so ago, I decided to try out a new toothpaste just before bed. As I opened the cap, a somewhat familiar scent came rolling out of the tube. I didn’t think much about it until I pressed my toothbrush onto my tongue. The vivid taste of that toothpaste made past memories rush through my mind. And all at once, it hit me! The smell wasn’t so unfamiliar anymore. All of a sudden, I could see myself sneaking my Papaw’s breath mints off of his coffee table. I smirked as I remembered how he would let me pop more than one out of the roll before he acted like he noticed! I would swish the mints around in my mouth and savor the taste as we watched Sanford and Son, The Adam’s Family, and the Braves together.

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You see, most days the big yellow bus dropped me off at his house when I was in elementary school. And, until I tasted that toothpaste just a few nights ago, I didn’t realize how much I still miss him. I miss him calling me Bubba and singing “Oh My Darling” over and over again. He passed away when I was just 22 years old. It was almost a year after my wedding, and his death was the first painful event in my adult life.  I rejoiced that he was no longer suffering, but I wanted to spend more time with him.

Instead of letting wonderful memories heal my hurt the past ten years, I added to the pain by getting hung up on things that don’t really matter. I have been selfish. Over the last decade, I now know that I wasted so much time focusing on the few things that I thought he should have done for me while he was still here. I have focused on him not coming to my wedding. I have focused on him not rescuing me when my washer was flooding my laundry room floor. I have focused on him not calling to check on me like I thought he should. I have focused on the fact that I wanted him to quit smoking, but he wouldn’t. I have focused on how I never got to hear him tell me that he loved me.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love him while he was here. Because I did. I made sure he knew that I loved him not long after I found out he had lung cancer. I wanted him to hear me say that I loved him before he was gone. The two times that I told him he couldn’t say it back. The second time I told him, right before his surgery, I reassured myself that it was okay that he hadn’t bounced those three words back. I just wanted him to know that I loved him. I went further by showing him that he was special when I bought him an angel coin while he was recovering in the hospital. It hung above his bed and was placed in my hand the day he went to heaven. He entered the pearly white gates from his hospital bed.

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I cried like a baby the night he died. I cried like a baby several days after. I cried like a baby when more angel coins fell from heaven and landed at his back door. I even took flowers to his grave not long after. I promised to remember him when I named my future children. But, then I did what I always seem to do. I became numb. I became numb to what it was like when he was here. I became numb to the childhood memories that we had shared. That is until I tasted that toothpaste, and I was forced to see him again!

I went to bed that night with a new outlook of my memories of him. Since that night, I have let the memories take over my thoughts. And suddenly, I no longer focus on the few negative thoughts that I had created in my mind. Can you forgive someone after they are already in heaven? I am living proof that you can! But, this past week has taught me that after all these years, he didn’t even need to be forgiven.

The truth about my Papaw has come to life this week as I have remembered how he loved to eat a slice of apple butter bread with milk splattered over it. (So do I!) I have been able to see him in his trucker’s cap and big round sunglasses trying to teach me how to mow the lawn with that silver Sears mower. I have vividly seen him smiling as he shook his head because I failed miserably! (At the tender age of 10 years old, I was not cut out to be a lawnmower driver.) So, I have once again felt the rake enter my hand as he put me to work raking apples instead. Since the negative is gone, I have allowed myself to breathe in the sweet smell of those overly ripe apples! How I wish I could smell those same apples again. I have stretched out the mirror so he could clean the chimney. A task that I haven’t minded reliving because I got to spend time with him again.

Since, I have let all of the negative go, I have once again felt the pounding in my nose as my sister whacked me with a tennis racket one hot summer day while he was watching us many years ago. And, I can still see his face as screaming sisters came running at him.  He just shook his head, made sure I was going to live, and let us go about our way. He did not fuss nor yell that day. He chose to love us just the way we were! He loved us in the good times and bad. Yes! He loved us in the good times and bad.

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This week has taught me that his love shone through every day that he was with us. Now I know how much he loved me even though he never spoke those three words that I expected to hear so often. He showed me that he loved me every time he dropped by and picked me up from school so I wouldn’t get sick on the bus. He showed me that he loved me when he let me make huge bird nests out of all the grass that he had just raked. He showed me that he loved me when he would skip one of his favorite shows so I could watch Saved By the Bell. He showed me that he loved me when he listened to every word as I complained about how some people could be so rude when I worked at that grocery store in college. He showed me that he loved me by listening and not saying much at all! I don’t think he ever uttered a rude word to me. Can my children say the same thing about me? My husband? My sister? My family? My friends? Unfortunately, no!

By embracing his love this week and digging deeper into the person he really was, I have also realized that he not only loved me but he also taught me so many life lessons! Why has it taken me so many years to realize this? He has taught me that it is not strange if you only go to Walmart when you actually need something. He has taught me that the older the truck the better. He has taught me that home cooked meals are what it is all about. He has taught me that blue socks match whatever you are wearing. He has taught me that there is no place like home and family is all that matters. And, as I watched the water rushing from that old washer one more time this week, he has taught me that I don’t always have to have a knight in shining armor! Over thirteen years ago, he was trying to teach me that it is okay to learn to do things on my own.

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This week I have learned that my Papaw didn’t need to be changed.  I was the one who needed to remember how I once loved him for who he was. I needed to love him like I did before he went to see Jesus.  I was the one who needed to learn that life is not always about me.  I have realized that my Papaw was perfect just the way he was, and he had enough love to go around. Just because he didn’t say those three words like I wished he would have, doesn’t mean that his love wasn’t there. It was! I am so glad that my heart is now healed.  I am so glad that I can feel his love again. It feels good to be able to smile as I see him looking down from heaven. It will be just a little time until we meet again. I know he has a special room for my family in his mansion! And, I know it will be a celebration like no other when my little girl gets to meet the one I named her after.

Jaden Raeann

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Proverbs 25:11 – A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

This entry was posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect!. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Just A Little Time

  1. Neannie says:

    You and I are so much alike it is eerie. How we think about, analyze and work things out in our minds and hearts. I had the same thoughts and feelings as you while Dad was with us, while he was sick and after he went to Heaven. I too have found peace in the memories and accepted that Dad showed us love rather than telling us that he loved us. He loved all three of his granddaughters and you all brought him joy. He would be very proud of you all and would have enjoyed your kids immensely.

    • Actions are the key! I have figured that out. It is nice to hear those three special words, but it is better if a person shows you how they feel. I know he loved us, and I can’t wait until my kids actually get to meet him one day. They will love him. And, thinking things out is how I heal my heart.

  2. Heather says:

    Amanda, I still have his half finished pack of breath mints beside my bed in a bowl with the angel coin! Sometimes I grab them and smell them just to bring back memories of him! I have the same memories of growing up with him teaching is how to mow and help with work outside. He was a simple man with few words but he loved all of us in his own way. I remember making him with stupid shows like saved by the bell also lol! And him laughing with us at the stupid jokes. ESP Free Willie time and time again! I also remember him coming thru the parent pick up line in that old blue car and him letting us stand up so we could see out on the way home ( definitely wouldn’t fly today!)
    And the apple butter bread is still a staple in my diet! The best cheap snack on earth! We all learned a lot from his love. Sometimes the words don’t mean as much as the actions..that’s what we all need to remember. I’m sure he is up there bragging about his great grand children and looking over them every day!

    Oh..,and in my defense..,the tennis racket thing, that was an accident! Even though I know it hurt pretty bad!!! Glad you still have your nose!
    Love you all very much!

    • Yes! We have learned so much. He was so willing to teach us. I am glad we got the chance to spend so much time with him growing up. And, I know the tennis racket smack was an accident! If it hadn’t been, he would have probably been inspecting two fat noses! LOL! 🙂

      • Heather says:

        I still remember thinking I broke your nose when I hit it bc I was trying to hit the ball all the way to the woods of course…most of the time when I hurt you it was an accident! Like the swing set and the broken window! Lol!!

  3. Amy says:

    That was beautiful Amanda. Reading it brought tears to my eyes and gave me a chance to remember my Popaw Thurman and how much I miss him! Thank you for sharing!

  4. amy says:

    I think of papaw daily! I always wondered what he would think of us. I think jeannie’s right, he would be proud of us all. I can see him joking and picking with all our kids. I think that was one way of him showing us he loved us. I remember the only time I went to see him in the ICU (I just couldn’t see him n that bed so I only went n the room once, I was around 8 months preg. And he touches my belly and says your getting fat n chuckles! I really took it as I love u n his way! That was the last time we ever talked. A remember eating his blueberry poptarts he took to work, I still buy them n think of him everytime. “Hurry up and change that channel before they start clapping!” Lol he hated wheel of fortune! And I hated raking apples! I did not like all those bees! He paid me once for mowing the yard, felt pretty good cuz not just anyone cud mow it the right way! I sure do miss him!! Thanks amanda for posting this! Love you!

    • I never knew that he did that when you went to see him in ICU! That is funny! I remember talking to him about going fishing. He could only talk for a very short time after his surgery, and I was glad that I got to talk to him. I had forgotten about the poptarts! I guess we kept him going to the grocery store because we all ate them. And, I was one of the ones who never got to mow the yard except for the one time that he tried to teach me! HA! At least he took pride in wanting things done the right way. Love you guys very much. We miss all of you so much.

  5. Dana says:

    Well, Vinton Ray wasn’t my Paw Paw but while reading this I just bawled! It made me realize how much I miss my dad who has been in heaven 11 years. He never would tell me he loved me either unless I sat on his lap and told him I wasn’t getting up until he said those three little words that are so hard for some people to say. It’s amazing how having a personal relationship with God can soften your heart and make you see things in a different perspective. Thank you for this Amanda! I needed it! I love you, Jamie and the kids very much! You are a true blessing to me!

    PS: You are such a good writer! I can’t figure out why you haven’t written a book yet!

    • Your dad was a big part of my childhood! Thanks for reading. Maybe one day I will get something published. I enjoy writing. It helps me understand what the Lord is doing in my life. God is good. We love you guys very much, and you all are a blessing to us as well.

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