Our entire family joined for a beautiful memorial service several days later. My cousins literally sounded like angels when they sang "Up To The Mountain." My siblings spoke, and they both did so well. I spoke as well, but I don't remember much of it, other than I laughed and cried and stared at the back of the room because I couldn't meet the eyes of a single person there. My uncle closed it out with a wonderful rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings" - my grandfather's song to my grandmother.
It was an absolutely perfect memorial for an absolutely perfect man. Here's the draft of my speech (I went off the cuff a little bit, so this isn't exact).I want to thank you all for coming today. It's such a blessing to see that I'm not the only one who was so deeply affected by my Pawpaw. My mom and I were talking yesterday, and she commented that my Pawpaw left a lot of legacies, one of the most important being the expression of oneself through music. I'm going to have a hard time getting through this, so I am going to use some lyrics from a favorite singer of mine and my Pawpaw's to help me get through it. Waylon Jennings said "I'm not here to forget you, I'm here to recall the things we used to say and do, I don't want to get over you. I don't want to get over you."
I don't want to get over you, Pawpaw. I don't want to forget your voice. Your booming professor voice. My cousin Brooke said to me yesterday that she liked how much love she could hear in his voice when he said her name. I don't want to forget the way it sounded when you said my name. I love the voice that he got when he was teaching me. Math was so natural to him, and he loved it so much that he radiated it while he taught. As brilliant as he was, he was able to simplify it and make it so easy to understand. He gave me the secret formula for passing Cal II, and I was appalled when he told me when I started taking differential equations that he used to make them up for fun, just to see if he could solve them.Yet again, I'll let the lyrics Pawpaw and I loved lead us: "I've always been crazy, but it's kept me from going insane." I think he found these lyrics especially meaningful because of all he had been through in his life. It was true - he was a little crazy. He was a joker, a prankster, and he loved to laugh. He told jokes that made you groan, he stuck pencils out of his knee joint of his artificial legs, he told the best stories of his childhood, and once he sent my cousin Lisa screaming down the hall by showing her his artificial eye. We always had to lock Pawpaw out of the room when the Razorbacks were playing because as soon as he turned the game on, we would start losing. He used to threaten to turn the TV on during big games unless we wired him money. Here's hoping the curse is lifted and I would not be surprised if we won a national championship this year.
He radiated energy and happiness despite the hardships he faced. He didn't shrink, he didn't run, he didn't hide. He fully loved and enjoyed every minute of his life. We should all be so fortunate.
Waylon also said "There's one in every crowd, for crying out loud, why was it always turning out to be me?" You're the one in this crowd, Pawpaw because you were like a magnet. You drew people in with your larger than life personality. You didn't even try, but you were always surrounded by people because people felt good in your presence. It didn't matter what you talked to Pawpaw about, he always knew something about it and he always wanted to talk about it with you. Dinosaurs, books, music, horses, current events, it didn't matter. He was an expert teacher, but he was an expert listener as well.
I'll let Waylon close it out for me - "I will live to see it all through, but I'll always miss dreaming my dreams with you." I love you, Pawpaw. Thank you for being a teacher, a listener, and a great friend.
On Sunday after the service, we had a family dinner at El Chico's. I had a wonderful time with our entire family, and I can't wait to see them all again at Christmas. We are so blessed to have such an amazing group of people to call family!