Valuing People In Your Goodbyes
Back in 2014 I wrote a post about my grandfather six months after he passed away. My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few months before he passed away on April 5, 2014 and his symptoms progressed very rapidly. Those last few months were difficult to say the least. It is agonizing to watch someone lose the light they once had and be taken over by a terrible mental illness. Alzheimer’s comes in and quiets the person you know and love, leaving a reminiscent shell that you are grateful to have but that simultaneously causes deep sadness. The person you love is there with you, yet feels so far away.
My Papaw was amazing. It has been three years today since my Papaw went to be with Jesus. His life was one to be reflected upon, learned from, and remembered with joy. When I think about his story I smile. He was loyal to his family and truly gave his time to you when you were with him. He was a teacher at heart. When you ask my siblings favorite memories of him, they will list numerous different things he taught them. He loved the three of us uniquely and sacrificially.
One of my favorite memories to this day is the way he said “goodbye.” He and my grandmother would stand on their walkway and he would wave to us with his fingers formed in an “I love you.” He would stand and wave that way until you couldn’t see him anymore. You’d think we lived far away but it was only ten minutes from our house to theirs.
He valued sending us off with love. He valued our family. He valued me.
How I Say “I Love You”
In December of 2012, my siblings and I sat down with Papaw. We interviewed him for multiple hours over two days. We took notes and captured his life’s timeline. We loved the time we spent together those two days. We were all so excited to have the time and opportunity to prioritize capturing his life story in his own words. We have his story remembered in audio, photos, and of course our memories. Little did we know that a year later he would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
My sister and I did our first recording in 2006 when we secretly recorded our great grandmother, Nana. Her stories and her life inspire me on an ongoing basis. We knew we would want her stories captured, then she went to be with Jesus in 2011. The Christmas after Nana passed, we took the recordings and gave copies to our extended family.
The practice of remembrance is something incredibly important to me. God commands His people many times over in Scripture to remember who He is and what He has done. We are silly, forgetful people.
For the last few years I’ve been thinking about a project that I began this past fall. I’ve been interviewing people seasoned in life in order to capture their lives in a memorable way. I ask them about life, what they’ve learned, and record their story to be shared with their family and generations to come. I’ve been doing this for my family and friend’s families.
My honest desire is to help people remember the stories of those we love. It is a project that continues to grow and change, and is fueled by a deep desire to value people at every stage of life and value what God has done in their lives. My Papaw and my Nana lived lives for Jesus and valued people deeply. The project, called Story Remembered, is one way I can continue their legacy. You can learn more about Story Remembered here and here.
I will be writing on here weekly. It will be reflections on people I know and love, my circumstances as the days pass, funny stories about the joyful simplicity of life – simply put, the stories I want to remember.
A few things I have already written that are coming: hope in the midst of my sister’s cancer, closing a chapter of life at Fort Hood, encouragement to “cherish the church” from a hero, etc. My desire is to put into words the wisdom other’s have and to share the character and stories of people I cherish.
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I hope you’ll join me on this journey.