My Papa was a walking miracle. When Charles and I were very young Papa had his first heart attack. We don't remember this happening, but I'm sure it was very scary for my Nana and my Mom. They knew that Papa's father and most of his brothers had passed away early in life as a result of heart problems. But God had big plans for my sweet Papa, and he recovered amazingly from that heart attack.
Charles and I spent so much time with Papa and Nana when we were young. We had lunch at their house every Sunday after church. We spent every summer at their house. They always took time to do special things with us. During the summers we would go to the mountains for a picnic or to the Cabbage Patch Factory or to American Adventures.
When I was in middle school Papa had another problem with his heart. He and Nana went to Washington for a family reunion. They were ready to come home, but they had a lay over in Minnesota. Papa complained a lot about having to stop; he just wanted to fly straight to Atlanta. The lay over might not have been in Papa's plans, but it was part of God's great plan. Papa suffered another heart attack during the flight from Washington to Minnesota. When they landed in Minneapolis, he was taken to the hospital there. One of the top heart centers in the country. Of course, back in Georgia we were all scared to death. My parents flew to Minnesota as soon as they could, but Charles and I were left here. We prayed so much for Papa during that time. Charles and I stayed with one of Nana and Papa's close friends from their Sunday school class. I remember going to church with her and her husband and sitting in their classroom with probably 30 people from Nana and Papa's Sunday school class just praying for him. There is such power in prayer.
In Minneapolis, Papa was given a pacemaker/defibrillator to regulate his heart. He and Nana were there for a few weeks, but he was able to come home. If Nana and Papa had not had that lay over in Minnesota, Papa probably would not have made it home. Isn't it amazing how God works?
After receiving the pacemaker, Papa wasn't able to be as active as he was before, but we were very thankful to have him back home with us! God wasn't finished working through Papa. Nana and Papa continued to be very active in their church and their Sunday school class. They were also very active in our lives! We continued having lunch with them every Sunday after church until after I started college. Nana and Papa showed God's love to everyone. And they were an amazing example of a Christian marriage.
Two years ago, everything changed. On November 1, 2009 Jason and I got engaged. It was a Sunday. I remember coming home and sharing the news with Nana and Papa. They were so happy for us. The following week Papa went into the hospital. Looking back, I can see now that his heart was getting weaker and weaker. At the time, I felt that he would be fine. He had always been fine. He stayed for a few days at the hospital but was able to come home at the end of the week. I remember visiting him the weekend he was home and wondering why he was still in his pajamas. He just wasn't feeling well. The next week he went to follow up with his regular doctors after the hospital stay, and they sent him immediately back to the hospital. His blood work was still out of whack was the reasoning.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009 is a day I will never forget. I was at my apartment after a day at school when my dad called me. He called to say that there wasn't much time left for Papa. At first I didn't know what to do. I asked what that meant. I wanted my dad to tell me if I needed to come right now or if he thought I could wait until the next day. Then Daddy told me that Papa had asked the doctors to turn off his pacemaker. I knew then that I had to go. I think it was about 5 o' clock that I left Athens. Praying the entire way that I would make it in time. Praise the Lord I did. I really think that God understood how devastated I would be if I didn't. When I got to Papa's room my parents and Nana were there along with our pastor and Nana and Papa's pastor. I didn't know what to say. I could only say "I love you, Papa". It was probably less than 20 minutes after I got there that Papa went to be with Jesus.
His pastor told me later that Papa had told him he was in a win-win situation that day. If he got better it was a win because he could stay with Nana and with us. But if he didn't, that would be a win too, because he would get to be with Jesus. What a powerful testimony of peace!
So this and every Veteran's Day, I will remember my special veteran, my Papa, who not only fought in World War II to protect this great country and our freedoms, but who also fought daily for the Lord and His Eternal Kingdom.
I love and miss you Papa, and I look forward to the day that I will see you again!
"So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Him."
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (NLT)