Papa. I miss you with an ache that will never be filled. It’s been three days and it still doesn’t feel real. How do you grasp that your biggest supporter, most faithful prayer warrior, best source of laughter, endless source of wisdom, and huge source of love is gone? I don’t think I ever fully will.
Yesterday was beautiful and hard all at once. Meeting and seeing hundreds and hundreds of the people whose lives you touched. Papa, you’re the most humble person I’ve ever known – but I must say I was taking pride in you.
People telling us how you sought them out of a crowd and made them feel welcome. Stories of you mentoring those who needed guidance, getting coffee with those who were lonely, raising money for those in need, sitting on committees and boards to advocate for those whose voice wasn’t being heard, offering your wisdom to the lost, making time for anyone and everyone, but most of all – loving others with a Christ-like love.
Legacy, Papa. That will be your legacy: love.
As each person passed through the line, I felt the weight of this legacy. You, Papa, have left shoes that seem impossible to fill, but I know we’re all going to try. The God you served so faithfully throughout your time on this earth is the same God you raised and built our family on. So with that, we will lean into our God and ask Him to work in and through us in a way that resembles how He worked through you: by loving others.
You were a man who had priorities, and you poured into family with a passion and impact I’ll never be able to put into words.
As a little girl, I would ask if I could comb your hair, and you’d sit there for as long as I wanted – patiently letting me play hairdresser. Moments like that, they taught me love and sacrifice (and the importance of a really good comb).
I will never run out of words to talk about you, Papa. Ever. But I do want to commit myself to living out a few practices that you modelled so well for us:
- I want to pray daily BY NAME for those who God has placed in my life. Just as you and grandma, every morning, sat together and said all our names and prayed for our individual needs.
- I want to seek out the stranger, the outcast, the new person, the lost soul, the weak, the least of these, and pour into them the way you would have – with service and love.
- I want to love my family like you loved us. I want to love in a way that makes everyone feel so uniquely recognized and valued. Because like Clarissa said, even though you had seven grandchildren, you always had a special way of making us feel like we were the only one.
- I want to relentlessly speak truth, what’s right, and wisdom like you did, even when it’s not popular opinion (especially when it’s not popular). I want to use my words to advocate and serve and help.
- I want to be unapologetically me because you always said, “ be who you is, not who you ain’t.” The way you’d say that made it sound so effortless, so my desire is to be confidently who God has made me to be just like you always did the same.
There are many other things I want to do because of you, Papa. But all of them, each one, comes back to me wanting to serve the Lord harder and more faithfully because that’s what you were always doing.
Your verse for our family was Joshua 24:15, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Papa, what a blessing it is that you never wavered from that verse. You didn’t serve the god of popularity, success, being known, making money, or acquiring earthly things. You served the Lord, and because of that, you and those around you were richly blessed. I know the way you served stemmed from your unapologetic and unashamed belief in the gospel. You let the weight of grace, beauty of mercy, and freedom of forgiveness found in Christ alone, radiate through every element of your daily life. You picked up your cross daily, and you did all that Christ enabled you to do in order to share His love with others.
Your mission was never self-righteousness, fame, credit, attribution, or applause. Your mission was the salvation of others, it was Jesus. And I pray, oh how I pray, that my life may reflect even a fraction of the kind of faith and boldness you had.
Papa, I will see you in every conversation I have with someone new, in the jube jube and licorice aisle, in peach juice and Yins Chinese food, in cowboy hats and horses, in the Simcoe Panorama and in Simcoe itself. I will see you, Papa. In the little victories and the big losses. Cheering me on, helping me not to sweat the small stuff, and always making sure that my faith is greater than my fear.
Thank you, Papa. You are truly indescribable. You are one-of-a-kind. The joy of the Lord was your strength, and His joy has been ours since you’ve been gone. I could not be more ecstatic for you. You are in the presence of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. You’re in your eternal home, Papa, and we’re just waiting until we get there, too.
Upon someone saying, “it was good to see you”, you would always reply, “it’s good to be seen”. You were definitely seen, Papa. And in everything that made you seen, you pointed everyone right back to Christ.
Love you more than I can even try to explain, because that’s how you loved all of us.