Thursday, August 12

I'll Fly Away.

The Monday after my meeting with Morgan, Josh received a phone call that he had been dreading for months.  His grandfather, Papa, had finally gone home to be with the Lord.  After a year of suffering, a year of not eating, not drinking, and being hooked up to machines he was finally feasting with his Father in Heaven.  I was unsure of how to handle the situation.  I still felt a mess myself and wasn't sure of how to console my sobbing husband.  I cannot describe the feeling that left in my heart. 

I drove to pick Jamie up from her apartment so she wouldn't have to be alone.  She and Josh spent the remainder of the day together while I stayed hidden in my office working in front of the computer monitors. 

The next day we were on our way to East Texas to celebrate Papa's life and be with family.  During the trip up Josh's Mom called and asked if I would be willing to sing Amazing Grace at Papa's funeral the next day.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as I managed to let a quiet, "yes" escape from my lips.  I was honored to have been asked.

Our first stop was the funeral home where Steve (our Dad) was waiting out front for us.  We made our way inside to find Marsha (our Mom) standing in front of Papa's open casket.  It was a heart wrenching scene to watch as Josh collapsed in his mom's arms and they stood looking at Papa lying peacefully in his beautiful blue casket.  I had been praying desperately for strength to make it through the next two days.  I knew that Josh would need me and I knew that I didn't have strength on my own to be there for him.  God provided me with strength like no other.  We were thankful to have that time before the viewing to say our goodbyes to our Papa.  He may have only been "officially" my grandfather for 9 months, but he had been my Papa for the past 7 years and I loved him dearly. 

That night was his viewing.  We were amazed at how many people showed up to pay their respects and say goodbye to this incredible man.  People stood around telling stories while others sat and cried.  It was a melting pot of emotions.  Mimi, Papa's wife, also came to see him for the first time since his passing.  I've never known a stronger woman. 

The next morning we all dressed in our nicest clothes and headed to a beautiful white church atop a green hill in the middle of East Texas.  The same church that Mimi Papa had been attending faithfully for the past several years.   I have no clue how I made it through the beginning of the funeral.  I know it was not by my own strength because I cry at the drop of a dime.  Josh was not able to sit with me as he had the honor of being a Pallbearer with some of his other cousins.  So I sat next to my cousin Holly, tightly gripping my hands together and I looked to the sky for strength.  Before Papa's passing he had asked his granddaughter, Ashley, to sing I'll Fly Away at his funeral.  As much as it pained Ashley to know that Papa was preparing for his journey home, she agreed to do so.  She started the funeral off with her angelic voice and I could not help but smile as the words escaped her lips;

Some bright morning when this life is o'er
I'll fly away
To that home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away.
 
I'll fly away, oh Glory
I'll fly away in the morning
When I die Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away.

When the shadows of this life have gone
I'll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I'll fly
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, oh Glory
I'll fly away in the morning
When I die Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away.

Oh, how glad and happy when we meet
I'll fly away
No more cold iron shackles on my feet
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, oh Glory
I'll fly away in the morning
When I die Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I'll fly away.

When I die Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away... 

She did such a beautiful job and  I am positive that Papa was standing up there in Heaven watching his gorgeous granddaughter sing to him as he danced and clapped his hands singing praises to the Lord that he was finally able to see.  

The pastor, a friend of Papa's, said a few words and then Aunt Carol, Papa's daughter, stood in front of the congregation as she bravely read a letter she had written to her departed father.  There wasn't a dry eye in the sanctuary as she took her seat.  Her words were genuine and full of love and adoration for Papa, everyone was touched.  

Before I knew it was my turn to take the mic and sing.  I made my way to the stage, grabbed the cold, heavy mic in my hand, made eye contact with the guitarist and took a deep breath as I asked God to give me the strength to make it through all five verses of Amazing Grace.  By the grace of God I made it all the way to the fifth verse before tears filled my eyes.  As soon as the final word of the song escaped my lips tears started streaming down my face.  God had given me just enough strength to make it though, I sat sobbing as the funeral ended.  I only hope that I did Papa proud. 


Papa was 84 when he passed away.  He had been married to Mimi for 59 years.  He left behind him a legacy unlike any other.  A strong, united family full of loving, strong, and compassionate people.  I am so honored to have been a part of Papa's life and will continue to life my life in a manner that he would be proud of.  

We love you and miss you deeply, Papa.


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