Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Papaw

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 
Romans 8:28
January 15, 2013, Papaw suffered complications following a hernia surgery which resulted in problems with his kidneys, heart, and lungs.  And after he was airlifted to Fort Smith his family filled the waiting room with hope, prayers, support, and love... for one of the most precious men we've known.  
'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'
Isaiah 41:10
Initially we were given much hope for a full recovery and Papaw was in good spirits (as was typical for his jolly self).  He had so many visitors - every child & grandchild - plus many other family and friends, even the nurses were commenting on how loved this man truly was.
And in true Hicks' fashion, there was still many smiles & moments of joy,
fun & laughter (and dozens of Paul Hicks' stories)
card games were played, and phone batteries drained,
work was completed & sleep-overs were had.
Then, on January 18th (3 days later) while enjoying an episode of 'I Love Lucy' with his sons, his heart unexpectedly stopped and he had to be placed on a ventilator.  Our hearts were so heavy as we soon learned just how critical his state had become.  His heart required another surgery, with unfavorable odds. We prayed God's will and for a full recovery... and waited.  On January 25, God gave us another miracle when Papaw survived his surgery and doctors came out optimistic.   Then on the 29th, God gave us another miracle & amazed us all, when Papaw was taken off the ventilator, after doctors had just been having 'talks of what to do next' with the family.  
(15 min after waking up, I called momma while she was there with him and he forced out a 'hi' to me...)
(***side note: not everyone appreciates baby boys dressed in these 'bubble suits' but I love them.  This sweet yellow one with the blue rocking horse was Colts 25 years ago along with the yellow booties that were hand made & given to me by Mrs. Shari Fant almost 30 years ago! So precious!!) 
This little guy was a terror to travel back and forth from Springdale to Fort Smith with -- SCREAMING almost the whole way during every trip.  But it was worth it each time to see the lifted spirits throughout the entire waiting room, especially with these 2 ladies.  
During my last visit with him, Hudson and I sat by his bed as he slept, and I thought about all of the wonderful qualities I hoped my boys would inherit and learn from their (great)Papaw.  One of the kindest, gentlest, most tender & loving men I've ever known.  His joy & laugh was infectious and his loving acts of service were endless.  And when it was time for me to leave, I held his hand, gave him my love & prayed for a compete healing... But I couldn't leave without snapping a picture of his hand.  There was just something special about them.  If I was asked to name one feature about him that I loved... it would be his big grandpa hands, big and thick and strong... and yet so soft and gentle.  (I found out later that I wasn't the only person in the family to take a picture of his hands) :) 
Febuary 3, 2013 after many stories had been recalled and love had been exchanged, God answered all of our prayers when He welcomed my Papaw into Heaven's gates, giving him his complete healing in an instant... It was a complete shock and wasn't necessarily what our earthly spirits had been hoping for but in our hearts we know there is no place he'd rather be.

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Our thoughts and prayers quickly shifted from Papaw to Granny.  After 59 years of marriage, 5 children, 14 grandchildren, 5 great grandkids . . . he was now gone.  She's always been a strong woman, a survivor, a fighter, and the matriarch of our family; but we'd clearly seen her love for him, as she sat day after day, waiting to take him back home.
In the days that followed we gathered in Booneville -- cried -- laughed -- planned a funeral -- told old stories -- shared loving memories -- and tried to bandage the void in our hearts the only way the Hicks' know how. . . by stuffing our bellies with every wonderful dish that loved ones poured through the doors with. ;)
Kyle put smiles on our faces by pulling out Papaw's coat to keep warm (inside the house) which Granny of course joked, was just irritate her ;)
His visitation showed an unbelievable outpouring of love from his little hometown, which of course touched our hearts to know how truly loved he was, by so many.
I was astounded to see the amount of flowers & plants that had been sent in his honor & remembrance... it was touching and just so amazing. A few of my favorites:
The details that had been chosen were simple, natural, and perfectly beautiful.
So many people showed up to give their love, support and kind words to us. Everyone spoke of his joy & love and how he will be so greatly missed.
I was especially happy to have my dad & meme drive up to be there with us too.
While we were busy visiting, Hunter, Payton, & Parker had a little too much fun of their own -- spreading out envelopes down the length of about 8 pews...
I wanted to do something for momma that would hopefully give her a happy memory of the past & from this sad time, that she could remember and smile at in the future... 'Glass bottled Cokes' will always be the memory I think of when my momma & papaw come to mind, as it was her 'something special' that he'd always have waiting for her when she visited.
As we prepared our hearts for his funeral, I stepped outside in the gorgeously warm sunshine that February day and who came rubbing up to my leg begging for a treat??  George of course...  he was going to miss his best friend too.
What good & unlikely friends they were.  I loved hearing Papaw tell me about George's mischievous ways and the sweetness in his voice when he'd talk to him...
And although my heart aches for Papaw to be with us again, my true sadness comes from knowing that my two little men won't truly know for themselves how great a man he was or how much he adored them.  
The service was beautiful and one I believe Papaw would have enjoyed.  We sang a few of his favorites; Amazing Grace, I Saw the Light, & The Old Rugged Cross.  Aunt Betsy sang one of all our favorites, 'Aint' No Grave' and we were honored to have our family friend and pastor, Bro. King speak at the service.
We played a slide show of over 100 pictures of Papaw and his family with a song that truly captured him & this time.

Lead Me Home by Jamey Johnson
I have seen my last tomorrow,
I am holding my last breath,
Goodbye, sweet world of sorrow,
My new life, begins with death.

I am standing on the mountain, 
I can hear the angels songs,
I am reaching over Jordon, 
Take my hand, Lord lead me home.

All my burdens, are behind me,
I have prayed, my final prayer,
Don't you cry, over my body, 
Cause that ain't me, lying there.

No, I am standing on the mountain, 
I can hear the angels songs,
I am reaching over Jordon, 
Take my hand, Lord lead me home.

I am standing (Lord, I am standing) on the mountain ( on the mountain ), 
I can hear ( I can hear the angels songs ) the angels songs,
I am reaching over Jordon, ( over Jordon )
Take my hand, Lord lead me home.
Take my hand, Lord lead me home.
The church blessed our family with a delicious home cooked meal and time of fellowship as well.
We buried him next to my Aunt Cindy & cousin Ashley who I believe were waiting with open arms at Heaven's Gates to welcome him in. . .  pure joy for him I know.  The peacefulness of that place is spectacular, the hills in the distance and quiet space of God's creation all around.
He was a retired veteran and was honored with an American Flag and a 21 gun salute.
Lacy led us through one more favorite, "I'll Fly Away" 
as we said our "see ya soons." 
I didn't speak any, nor do I think I could have.  But I was so thankful to know that I'd at least expressed to him already a little of what I'd want to say, given the opportunity, just a few months earlier when I had written him a birthday note for his 80th bday.
To my Papaw,
I hope you can feel the enormous amount of love that all of us feel for you.  You are a remarkable man who has helped shape this family with love and guidance.  I believe I can speak for the entire family when I say, we respect you and appreciate everything you’ve done for us, for longer than we can even remember.  You are an amazing man, one that I admire and appreciate and love. You have shown all of us how to have fun, how to enjoy life, what family means, and joy looks like. You and Granny have been the foundation for our amazing family, not by chance, but by much dedication and love.  I cannot express how profoundly grateful I am for all that you have done.

I have so many memories of the kindness, and love and fun that you have brought to my life over the years.  Many of the best are the simplest.  Waking up to a deliciously hot breakfast or watching you create perfection year after year with your Thanksgiving Ham, or the dash out the door the minute you overhear someone make a request for even the tiniest thing . . .  Don't ever think that "the little things" go unnoticed.  But the thing we will all hold dearest to out hearts: the sweetness of your spirit; your laughter & joy. Simple, perfect, ever lasting.

Thank you Papaw for all of the many, many wonderful memories, for your love, for our family and for the important role you have played in it.  I love you from the bottom of my heart.  You are a great man and I am so fortunate to be your granddaughter.  I pray we have many more years of making memories & celebrating of life & love with you.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

On behalf (and special request) of my Granny (Betty Hicks) and of our entire family, we would like to send out a HUGE thank you... Thank you friends and family for your love and support during those weeks & past few months. We deeply appreciate your prayers; for Papaw's healing and now for our comfort & grieving. Thank you to everyone who has written to us, called us, dropped by to give a hug, or showed us love in any way. We have been showered by so many beautiful plants & flowers and by each one of your incredibly delicious snacks, meals, and desserts. The love we've received has been amazing and such a testament to the life our Papaw lived. Papaw (Hobe Hicks) was an amazing man who was deeply loved and will truly be missed. We are so blessed to have been apart of his life and thankful to know we will see him again one day.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18