I debated about posting this on the blog but in the end I decided that my blog is about my business but also about my life, and death is a part of life. Last Tuesday I got that phone call, you know the one that you know is going to come someday but you wish it never would. The first phone call was that my Papaw was in the hospital for low heart rate after passing out at home twice. My Mom was headed down to NC with her sister to be at the hospital with him, they were talking about putting a pacemaker in and he could go home later in the week. I called my sister to tell her what was going on and since she is a nurse to ask her questions about how bad was this. We both knew the old man was a fighter so while we were worried and were praying we thought he would pull through. Another phone call a couple hours later let us know that a temporary pacemaker was installed and he was stable, my Mom and Aunt were still on the road headed to see him. Before I went to bed I prayed for him to be ok and have a speedy recovery. Shortly after midnight the phone rang again and the words I never wanted to hear were spoken, my Papaw had died. My Mom and Aunt made it to the hospital and spent about 5 minutes with him talking to him and then stepped out of the room to let him rest. That was all he needed, he hung on till they got there and then it was his time to move on. As soon as David heard me say “What!?!” I felt his arms around me and after I hung up the phone I sobbed in shock. My sister called almost immediately and we cried on the phone together, feeling guilty that we too hadn’t jumped in the car to head down there. We both thought we had more time… He’s the first grandparent we have lost.
Robert Van Lindsey, that’s my Papaw, was born in 1925 and during WWII served as a sailor in the United States Navy. He was so proud of his service for our country, he saw a lot of action and lost a lot of friends during the war. He loved to talk about it though! He would often make sure you knew that you were talking to a “real live war hero” ;). He loved to banter with David from a sailor to a Marine, the first time they met he called my husband a bellhop!! I was horrified!!! Apparently the Marine dress blues resembled bellhop uniforms from their day so the sailors made sure to rub that in. Although my Uncle Dave, Papaw’s younger brother and also a sailor, let us know at the funeral that the Marine blues are the best looking uniform in the service but don’t expect to hear that from him if he was in uniform 😉 Whenever my Papaw would call you on the phone he would always say “Whatcha doing?”, our response was always “Talking to you!”. He could remember playing with me when I was 2 years old and the toys we would play with. If there was one thing that my brother, sister and I know to be 100% true it was that our Papaw loved us with all of his heart. He loved to introduce us to his friends and brag about his grandchildren, he was so proud! He was a bulldog on the outside but was mushy on the inside, he was an avid Days of Our Lives watcher for the last 30 years at least. He loved to talk about Stefano Dimera and would always say his name in a spooky voice. Papaw even named his cat Stefano! The photo above with him kicked back in his chair was exactly how I will remember him, sitting there watching DOOL, one leg over the armrest.
Even though I’m heartbroken to lose my Papaw I am thankful to God for several things. The fact that he held out for my Mom and Aunt to see him, that he didn’t suffer, that he was just here in March for everyone to visit and for putting the idea in my head last year to spend some time with all my grandparents. I feel that we are truly blessed for God to have provided us with those opportunities. At one point during my trip I ran into him in the hallway outside our rooms and I gave him a big hug and started crying, I told him it was because I missed him which was true but I also knew that he wouldn’t be around forever no matter how much I wished he could. The top row of photos are from my trip to visit him in September, ironically he has his hand over his face in each shot! I didn’t go with the purpose to get posed perfect portraits though, I went to document my Papaw and I accomplished that. Out of all my grandparents he didn’t flinch at all with me sitting there snapping away, he just kept talking to me and telling me his stories. Of course the next place I went for photos was in my own wedding folder and I’m so glad I had my photographer get a photo of us together. He looked pretty sharp at my wedding! I remember visiting with him at the wedding and he wanted to know when I was going to bring my new husband down to learn to work on the cars. You see Papaw’s greatest love after family was his cars. He loved to tinker with them and owned practically a fleet 🙂 I was told growing up that it was my duty to find a husband who could work on cars! At some point we will be bringing home my 1929 Fordor Model A that is in desperate need of an overhaul. It should be an interesting project to document! I know Papaw will be looking down from above and hopefully guiding us in getting her put back together. His 1930 Tudor Model A was parked outside the church during the service as a tribute and when we went to pick it up later the smell just reminded me of my Papaw. I know every time I see a Model A I will be thinking of him and wishing I could hug him again. Like the pastor said during the service, God had an opening for a supervisor and my Papaw was excellent at supervising ;)!!