My Hero, my Papa


Today’s hero was born on this day 94 years ago. It’s been 14 years since my Papa passed away. But he’s still alive in me, or his spirit is still with me. Papa battled prostate cancer for many years. I love the movie “Big Fish” because he reminds me so much of the father in that movie. He was great at telling tall tales, we had a giant catfish that lived in one of his ponds that no one could catch, as a kid I imagined it to be as large as a small boat, from what Papa had told me. I loved his stories. He’ll always be our Big Fish! He taught me many lessons.

LESSONS FROM PAPA It was a magic world I lived in as a boy, stepping onto the boat with Papa was always an adventure. Papa understood me and he always played along with my imagination, he went on my adventures with me. Sometimes he would sit me on his lap and let me steer the boat, with the engine roaring he would whisper in my ear that we were flying. As the wind blew through my hair I would inch my way to the front of the boat. I felt as if I was flying, I would be right up front almost feeling the wind would lift me into the sky. Looking into the water hypnotized me, and then a splash of cold water would hit me bringing me back to reality. Every time I would look at Papa he would be smiling back at me as much as I was smiling at him. When we finally did slow down and throw anchor, he would make our fishing trip magical, telling me of all the fish that lived underneath us, he said there was a magic fish and if I could catch him he would grant me three wishes. He was a gold mackerel. As Papa baited my hook, I would cast my line and sit with anticipation of catching this magic fish. Spraying lemon juice on my head for luck, we would sit and talk about things. As a flock of geese flew over our head, Papa would tell me to look, if it isn’t the Bird family of V….’s flying over, that the V stands for well our last name. He told me to really watch them, how they fly together in that v, all going in the same direction. He would say if one falls out of the v that it is harder to fly because the wind that the wings of his brother or sister goose helps him fly. He also wanted me to notice how when the lead goose gets tired they change positions. The brother and sister goose takes turns. And how the goose in the back is always honking keeping them at their speed. Funny thinking that papa was trying to teach me a lesson way back then. I’m thinking about my grandpa tonight as you can see. My last memory of him was him saying Papa? What is a Papa. You are a Papa I told him. Papa has meant many things for me through the years. Papa has always been a big influence in my life. As I’ve changed and grown so has my appreciation and love for him. I’ve always worshipped him and loved him for all that he did. As a child I remember him to be powerful and storng. I always felt safe around him. He was “Papa” the most powerful man in the universe. I remember Sherry and I hiding in the closet every Friday night and when he would come home around 11:00 p.m. from work we would jump out and scare him. He acted scared and surprised every time. Later I loved him for helping me so. with the little problems, I thought was big. he had a great sense of humor and always loved a good joke. Then I became a teenager: I still stayed with them most every Friday night. I mowed the yards on Saturday mornings. He’d laugh his hearty laugh at me because he could hear me singing over the lawnmower. He was always measuring me on the walls and was so proud I was tall. I always enjoyed the look on his face when he would do that. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Papa. The last thing he told me when he knew me was, I had come home to visit, and my Mema was fussing and saying why have you been gone so long, you upset your Papa, he looked at her and said, I’m not upset, I love you Derek, I remember the day you were born and I loved you that day, and have loved you ever since. He didn’t say anything else after that, he died a few weeks after. The hardest for me was the last days I spent with him, when he no longer knew he was a Papa, and he would ask what is a Papa. I always smiled and a tear would come to my eye. I’d grab his hand and say “You are a Papa!”

There were so many connections I had with him. I wish I could remember them all. One of my last connections that I remember before he got really sick, was after he had fallen, he had a sling on his arm, and he came to Irwin County High School, because I was singing and dancing with the ABAC singing group I was in. Afterwards, I got my picture taken with him, and he looked at me and laughed and said I learned my moves from him, and he didn’t know I could sing and dance like that. I always knew he loved me but I saw something that day, I saw that he cared deeply about me and always would be a part of my life, it was my last year at ABAC. He slipped me some money when I was leaving cause we were about to go touring around Georgia from up to Six Flags in Atlanta down to Disney Wolrd to sing there. He said “If you need anything, just let me know. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before from him, but it was in his voice. He knew that I was not going to be around every week like I had always been, because I was about to move to Valdosta. He knew I was about to start growing up, and start living my life. He even had tears in his eyes that he was so proud of me. It seems after I moved away to Valdosta, I moved to Jacksonville about as soon. I didn’t come home like I always had. I sure still miss him. The picture at the top is one time when he came and saw me when I was singing and dancing in a college concert. The other one is us when I was little at the beach, he loved to turn flips as he jumped the waves. I guess I got my love for the beach from him as well, and all the rest are Papa all the way down to him as a baby. He was quite a man and all of his grandchildren just adored him.

Papa’s Special Gift

Papa had a special gift

He always knew just what to do

To make his grandchildren happy

And to show he loved them, too.

At the family get-togethers,

He was the first person to look for-

He would entertain us children for hours,

And we always kept asking for more.

You could tell when Papa was teasing

By the twinkle that shined in his eyes-

He was an expert at settling problems,

For he was loving, patient, and wise.

His grandchildren always admired him,

Even though they are grown-

They always feel proud and happy

To have had Papa as their own!

Happy Birthday!


~ by deveil on OctoberUTCb000000pmThu, 18 Oct 2007 15:22:55 +000007 19, 2007.

3 Responses to “My Hero, my Papa”

  1. Those are great shots of you and your father. I really love the one at the shore. By the sound of things that’s pretty symbolic, with fishing, boats etc. being a connection for the two of you.

    You were very lucky to have that kind of relationship with your father. He sounds like a wonderful man. I’m sure it means a lot to him that you recognized him this way; even if he can’t tell you himself.

  2. that was very sweet
    i luv the bowtie!

  3. Of course he’s still alive within you. What a beautiful tribute! He was an adorable baby. And you look exactly the same in that first pic, as you do know. Except the styles have changed!

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