But he was my Papa, and nothing about him was ordinary. Today, 5 years later, I want to share some of my favorite memories.
1. Game time. Nobody was more fun than Papa. He loved a good game, be it Monopoly, hangman, or football, more than anyone I know. I remember so many evenings sitting around my grandparents little glass breakfast table, with a monopoly board on the table, watching Papa's eyes gleam with competitive anticipation of another victory at hand. He was cut throat, always sitting on his money to keep everyone in the dark on how he was doing. It was always pure joy for both of us.
2. El Chico's. Really, that could be expanded to dinners out of all kinds, but El Chico's was definitely our favorite. I don't know how many happy nights I have spent with Papa and Grammy at that old mexican restaurant, but I know I always wish I could have just one more. So many birthdays, special occasions, and no occasions at all were spent there, it was as comfortable as home. El Chico's has closed its doors, but that's okay. It was never the same with out him anyway.
3. Holidays. I think maybe we feel his absence here the most. He was so central to the celebrating, to the joy, to the excitement. I am so grateful for 25 years of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter memories spent with him, as he led in the fun, praise and thanksgiving of the seasons.
4. Preaching. He was the very best. How will I ever know the impact those sermons have had on my life? God used Papa in a powerful way to shape me into who I am today. I am so grateful!
5. Stories. Nobody could tell a story or a joke like Papa. He could make me cry or laugh at the drop of the hat as he told a story, the way the story was meant to be told, or maybe even a little bit better. He was a master, and it's because of that I can recall so many of them today. I love to tell a good story myself, but to have a talent like that would be something indeed.
Remembering often makes me cry, but even more often makes me smile. The blessing of having him in my life is something I will always be grateful for. He continues to live in our hearts until we see him again in heaven.