3 weeks ago, my grandfather, my hero passed away.
This man was very dear to me and meant the world to me. I feel like he was taken away far too soon and with so many things yet to be done. This death has created a hurt and a hole in my life. I always looked up to the man and knew that if things were bad, he would have a way to bring peace, hope, joy and love. I always joked that my Pawpaw was a preacher and a carpenter but that he wasn’t Jesus. Truth is, I always pictured Jesus to be something like my Pawpaw. He could joke with the best of them and laugh with the best as well but when it came to preaching The Word, nothing could hold him back. Nothing.
I always wanted to call him after I had a job at a church after graduating and that day will never come. I know I shouldn’t hold on to things that could have been and what I think should have been but everyday it lingers in my mind. When Pawpaw died, a part of me died as well. I never thought this day would come.
I remember that the first time I had Mountain Dew, Pawpaw was at our house on Greenbriar helping us work on our breakfast bar in the kitchen. He was a big man and knew so much! He could make anything and fix anything stronger than it was originally built. He was present at most if not all of our church functions even though he was pastoring a church and he did his best to make it to all of my musical activities. I could tell he loved the fact that I love and breath music. I could just tell by the smile on his face and the sparkle in his eye when I played. I miss him so much.
Working in retail killed my ability to spend the Holidays with him and that was always the best of times. Hearing him tell everyone why we celebrate Christmas and then sitting the whole family down and telling everyone that it was his last Christmas; every year. At the time, we would cry a little and then laugh it off but now, it just seems ironic. It’s like for years he kept saying, “now listen here and listen good. One day I will pass from this Earth and move on to live with God and my time here is limited. If you want to spend time with me, make it so. Call me, come fish with me, come let me show you how to cut wood or preach a sermon.” If only I could go back in time and hug him one more time. Harder. Longer. No regrets.
I spent time with my Pawpaw July 31 & August 1 and seems like it was just a couple of days ago now. The weekend went by so fast and I loved every single minute of it. I showed him around a brand new place and his eyes just lit up when I showed him around OU and what I manage at Target. He seemed so proud of me that I was keeping my head up and my feet in front of me despite all the hardships that I have faced.
Early morning on August 2nd, I had to leave to go to work and before I left I said goodbye to everybody. The last person I spoke with was Pawpaw. I walked into Tony & Paulie’s spare bedroom and there he stood. I walked up to my Pawpaw, gave him a big hug and said, “I love you.” His reply was the same while holding me tight and as I let go I looked him in the eye for the last time. As I saw the sparkle in his eye, he started to tear up. I teared up as well even though I knew that I would see him again at Lake Catherine in early November. I will not see him again on this Earth.
Perhaps as my family has spoken of several times, the man knew somehow that his time here was coming to an end. He had never teared up before when telling me goodbye and even while I drove to work on that mild, August morning I cried all the way to work. Maybe somehow our spirits connected to one another and knew that it would be our last goodbye. I will never know for sure.
I say all of this because this man, my Pawpaw, Stafford Steven Harris, was my hero. I admired him, looked up to him and knew that I wanted to be like him.
I count myself blessed because this man was at many birthdays, holidays, concerts, my high school and college graduations, my wedding and he got to hold my daughter, Annabelle Rose. I will forever miss the man and will always have an empty spot where he used to be.
He pushed me to love God despite the trials and hardships. He urged me to lead my family and to love them more every day. He taught me how to laugh, love and lead. He touched countless lives with his middle school education and the impact he made in my life will forever change the way I love God, my family and music. God has given me a gift and I need to use it, embrace and love it.
I close with this:
The last time I said goodbye to you, I didn’t tell you how proud I have always been of you or how much I look up to you but I would like to think that you always knew. You always gave me the invitation to preach at your church and I never took you up on that, a decision I will always regret. I held on strong when I spoke at the funeral. You would have been proud. I spoke on how God was your love and that music was your language. That is how I summed it up. I heard many amens and so many people must have agreed. I am really going to miss you and am unsure as to why God took you so abruptly. I know I must have faith that all is in God’s timing but right now I just really want to talk to you. I want to talk about the churches that are talking to me and how it feels. I want you to pray with me and tell me that everything is going to be okay. I feel like I am alone now. What do I do now? Which church is right? Throw some words in with the Big Guy if you could please.
I love you so much and will miss you more than music can convey.