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Butterscotch Without Paw-Paw
Have you ever lost someone you love?
Were you extremely close to that person?
Did you know what to do when you lost that person?
And most of all, did you know you were actually going to be ok without that person?
It never crossed my mind.
It’s hard. It’s extremely hard to deal with a death, a visitation, and a funeral. But do you know what’s harder? Dealing with people coming to your house, giving you a casserole, letting you cry on their shoulder and saying. “If there’s anything I can do just name it.” Just name it? Ok, how about bringing him back? Can you do that for me or would you rather stuff another casserole down my throat because God knows I really need another one of those.
If you’ve ever lost someone really close to you, you know what I’m talking about. You understand that people care and saying and doing all those things is the only way they can express their feelings, but sometimes you just want to scream!
My name is Danielle and the person I lost is my Grandfather, whom I liked to call Paw-Paw. Now some of you may think that losing a grandparent isn’t that bad. You may say, “I’ve lost a grandparent and I got over it really fast.”
Well, first of all, you don’t get over a death. You get through it. Second, my Paw-Paw was the one I could run to when I was scared, I could joke around with him, I could sing to him (and my voice is terrible), and most of all I could just be loved by him.
You’re probably saying, “Well, my grandfather was all those things too and I got through it real quick.”
If you’re saying that, let me be the first to tell you that you probably didn’t appreciate him as much as you should have. I appreciated mine as much as possible. He was that old man in town that would sit with his buddies and reminisce about “the good old days”. He was also the old man that loved kids. He was the first one to give you a piece of candy, a piece of butterscotch. That bitter sweet candy that reminds me just how much I loved that old man with all my heart.
The day it happened will always register in my mind as the saddest day of my life.
It first started off with a new neighbor moving in next door. A girl about my age coming over to my house and instantly becoming my friend. We went swimming in my inflatable pool and laughed and talked and even though we were instantly friends, I knew she was never going to be my best friend. So she went home and I continued with my little nine year old life.
Now, this is just one of the parts that I can never remember, the beginning. My Paw-Paw was having an emphysema attack so my brother, Edward, my cousin, Selena, and I start running towards my grandparents house. We burst through the door and my Paw-Paw is sitting in his chair with his oxygen mask on.
Now, this part I actually remember. My Paw-Paw sitting there and struggling to breathe. He tries to take a breath but nothing comes to his lungs. He sits there shaking and struggling and me, Edward, and Selena run outside to wait for the ambulance. My cousin had lost her mother the month before all this happened and she stands by the road saying, “God, please! I can’t lose another one.”
The ambulance gets there. Me, Edward, and Selena are forced to sit on the porch while the EMTs try to revive Paw-Paw. My grandmother, Maw-Maw, sits by his side crying. My Mama moves her out of the way. My Daddy grabs Mama by the shoulders and says, “Is my Daddy going to make it?” Mama shakes her head no. Daddy takes a deep breathe and stays strong for the rest of us.
My brother lies down on the wheelchair ramp screaming and crying. Suddenly Mama comes out and says, “They got a heart beat! Edward, you have to help the EMTs carry Paw-Paw!” Paw-Paw was a big man and Edward was strong enough to help carry him to the ambulance.
While all of this is happening I am no where to be found. No one knows it, but I’m in our R.V., crying. I’m crying and thinking, “This can’t be happening. He’s not going to die.”
I can’t remember who told me, but Paw-Paw is dead. Edward, Selena, and I are at Paw-Paw’s house. We are looking at his picture and we are crying.
Everyone else is at the hospital. The doctor comes to tell them the bad news and knees buckle, tears flow, and voices simply utter, “No.” We’re not sure, but we think Daddy has had a small stroke. He doesn’t care. He wants to see Paw-Paw. Everyone does. But they don’t want to see him on a stretcher. They want to see him walk out of the emergency room and say, “Alright ya’ll. Let’s go home.” They want to see his smile and hear his infectious laugh. They don’t want him to go home with God. They want to be selfish and keep him here. So do I.
Maw-Maw says, “God no! I can’t take it! Take me!”
We go to the funeral and everyone pays there respects. Family, friends, teachers, and the town.
Here is yet another thing I don’t remember. We all sit and look at the casket. I walk up to the casket and sing to Paw-Paw. No one knows what I sing, but everyone cries.
Mama walks up to me and puts her arm around me and says, “Are you ok?”
I say, “Yes Ma’am. Paw-Paw wanted to hear the song.”
Mama says, “And you sang it to him.”
I agree, “Yes Ma’am.”
The pallbearers start to close the casket, but Maw-Maw doesn’t want to let him go. She can’t take it so she passes out.
My cousin, Annette, says, “Aunt Sue?! Somebody help her!”
People wake up Maw-Maw with cold cloths and gentle shakes. She wakes up and we all go to the burial.
The preacher talks about Paw-Paw's life and how much he meant to everyone and we give roses. We leave the funeral and go home.
Everyone thinks that after a funeral is when you let a person go. That’s a lie. I’m 17 years old, Paw-Paw died when I was nine and I still hold on to a small part of him. This story isn’t just about my struggles through Paw-Paw’s death. It’s about everyone’s struggles. My family has gone through so much after losing Paw-Paw. He was the heart of my family and now we’re kind of lost, but we’re finding our way.
Five years after Paw-Paw’s death I accepted Christ and turns out I actually am going to be ok. It’s hard, even eight years after his death we struggle a little, but as long as I keep getting closer to God and letting His work show through me I believe that my family will find our way and let God into their lives.
But one thing is for sure, butterscotch will never be the same without Paw-Paw.