"The most important of life's battles is the one we fight daily in the silent chambers of the soul."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Papaw, Please!

My son, Connor Gargus, was 1 year and a half in May when my father passed away. In the short time he was with my dad he grew attached to him. My dad was beyond fond of him. He was crazy about that little boy. He said that these children, Autumn and Connor, brought joy to his life in these latter years. We lived close by so he was always welcome to come by and pick them up. Trips to the park, out to eat at McDonald's, or just to go get a toy was always on the agenda of spoiling the way that grandparents always do. My dad said he would always watch over them. His faith could literally move mountains if he so willed it. The bond between them could not be broken even at death.

The death hit my daughter hard but I thought that my son was too young to notice. I was wrong. The day of the wake as they displayed his body in the casket some last minute arrangements were being made. My sister, Kay, requested a prayer bench be brought in so people could kneel next to the body. They placed the bench there then I turned around and saw the oddest thing. My son who only learned to walk a couple months earlier had crawled up on the bench. He pulled himself up and looked in at my dad. I stood watching wondering what he was doing. He looked down at my dad with his blue eyes and started crying. He pulled at my dad's hand like he was trying to wake him up from a sleep. Now he could barely talk but for a few words. What he said hit me right at my heart. He looked at him crying and with his small voice as best he could Connor screamed, "Papaw, Please!" He repeated this constantly hoping to wake my dad. On some small level he knew I believe in my heart that something wasn't right with his papaw. I knelt down beside him and hugged him. I embraced him in my arms and sobbed uncontrollably.
For a moment my mind drifted back to a time when I could feel my dad's arms around me. As he would lift me up and hold me against his chest making me feel protected from everything life could throw at me. Those arms could fight off the dark things in my room at night, those arms could lift me into bed when sleep over took me, and those arms could give me the reassurance even when I failed in life.
I looked into his blue eyes just like my dad's . I saw my dad's face noticing how much my little boy favored him at that age. I only had pictures of my dad to look at when he was young but that smile my boy gave was unmistakenly his. A smile and look that could warm your heart. I reassured him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. We walked away and he seemed to be alright then. I knew that my dad was watching over him but I didn't realize how much.

One day he was in his Papaw's room. We were going through Dad's stuff packing away things. It was hard. My little boy was sitting in the rocking chair that my dad rocked him in all those times.
My mind drifted away in that moment again remembering. Reminiscing the way he would hold me just like he did Connor up on his shoulder. My head would nussel against a little place in that big shoulder to rest. I would wrap my tiny arms around him and say, "Love". He would nussel his face against mine. His whiskers had grown out alot of times from working the nightshift on the railroad. Already a five a clock shadow from shaving that morning. It tickled my face. I was so thankful for those late night he would come in when I couldn't sleep. Little did mother know alot of nights I fought sleep just to see him. The coveralls he wore to keep him warm while holding onto boxcar ladders was made of the softest material back then I had ever felt. He held me against him rocking and singing in a deep voice only a father has. You know the kind. You feel the deep vibration of his voice vibrate through your chest. There's something protective about the voice that my mother couldn't compare, too. A special bond between a father and son. Singing a song he had made up off the top of his head. He liked western movies so he called my brother and I his little buckaroo. He would sing, "My little buckaroo, I love you. Go to sleep and sleep in peace for your daddy loves you."
Shaking my head with my eyes tearing up I look at Connor. He's rocking himself and singing. I innocently look at him and smile. My mother says, "Who are you singing to?" He looks at her, smiles back, and says, "Papaw." "Who?", she says. "Papaw," he repeats and proceeds to go back to merrily singing and rocking. Now being a skeptical adult like we all are I just dismissed it. You know if God wants you to see something he will make you see.

The next Sunday morning at church as the services were going my little boy started acting up. Acting up is of course typical of children at that age but I had tried to hush him up what seemed a thousand times. With my patience running thin I picked him up and headed out of the sanctuary. Dad always said to me when I got so upset at my kids to never spank them when your mad. He would emphasize that they can't be made adults over night. Well, that being said I thought I had enough and Connor had pushed on my last nerve. When I got to the restroom I walked in fuming. Noone was in there and I proceeded to administer some attitude adjustment not realizing it was mine that needed adjusting. I looked at him and I said will you, please, quiet down. Suddenly, he stopped throwing his tantrum. He started looking everywhere around the room like he was following something. Then he looked straight up at the ceiling. I looked puzzled and said,"What are you looking at?". "Papaw," he said. I thought oh no not this again. Then being a disbeliever like a toddler knows anything. I said, "Where is Papaw?". He said,"Papaw spirit here " and pointed right beside me. I looked but saw nothing. This little child started laughing and reaching his hand out to thin air like he was holding someone's hand. He started to play peekaboo looking around the room giggling. My dad use to roll his head against my son while he rolled his. He started rolling his head against the thin air. Then he reached out to the thin air with outstretched arms and said what he always said to my dad the word love. "Love," he said. Then he cried and said with a sad voice, "Gone, Gone." "Where is Papaw?", I asked. "Papaw, Papaw, Gone, Gone."
My eyes wide open I couldn't believe this nor understand this. Some how my father I have come to believe is with these children. Though I can't see him God has let him be seen by them. Maybe it's the purity of heart that gives children sight that God lets them see. He said the kingdom of heaven is made up of such as these. I just wish my heart was that pure to see. They may lose the ability as time changes everything but I believe in my heart of hearts that God will let him continue to keep the watch with the angels over them for the rest of their lives. He always said that God had something special planned for both of them. I believe it is to bring me back to where I need to be when I get lost doing my soul searching on myself.
Lance Gargus

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Christianity, Bible, Jesus, Angels, Soul Searching, God, Holy Spirit, Doves, Love, Children, Heaven

1 comment:

Tracy O. said...

Beautiful article.