It’s been a week since he’s passed away and I keep trying to come up with the right words. But I can’t. So I’ll just let some pictures speak for me where words won’t do.
On their wedding day – they have the most amazing met/engaged/married story (it all happened in about a month’s time!) – and I just love this picture.
What my Mamaw wrote on the back of it.
The “official” wedding photo
I think my mom has most of the pictures of Papaw and me when I was little. The earliest ones I had were from probably one of the craziest things my grandparents ever did.
The summer of 1992, they decided to drive two preteens from their home outside of Tampa, Florida all the way to Olympia, Washington. I have no idea what possessed them to be so brave – but those six weeks were nothing short of amazing.
In front of the Alamo – one of the many, many stops we made.
When we finally made it up to Washington with my Uncle Don and his family
At my senior class day in high school. Despite the distance they lived from us, I don’t recall my grandparents ever missing an important event in our lives.
Papaw and I at Christmas in 1999.
My college graduation
Papaw and I in Vicksburg, MS, during a family reunion, the summer of 2002 I think.
At my brother Al’s wedding, November 2003
At our wedding in May 2005
My very most favorite picture of us
The last picture I have of him – snuggled under a blanket I made him for Christmas, December 2007.
I had the chance to say a few words (I hate that terminology) at his funeral. I didn’t want to say any of the usual, he was a great man, the greatest grandfather, etc. So I decided to just tell a little bit of a story, because if he was anything, my Papaw was an amazing storyteller.
We Lanes may not be scientists, astronauts, or even be very good at saving the planet, but if there is one thing that we are, we Lanes are world class road trippers. My husband doesn’t understand how I can think nothing of throwing a suitcase into the car and driving twelve hours one way to stay twenty four. How many trips do you think my dad has made where he has spent more time in the car than actually fishing? But the Lanes, we know how to drive and eat up those highway miles.
I don’t really know how we got this way, if there is something that is in our DNA that makes us restless if we haven’t taken a road trip in a few months or if it’s just our unending desire to always one-up the other. I think my cousins Derek and Shane have had many conversations along the lines of, you drove ten hours after working twelve and not sleeping for three days? Well that’s nothing, I drove twenty. On one tank of gas. And I only ate chocolate donuts and drank a quart of milk. So beat that.
But I think part of the reason we’re so drawn to the road is because of Papaw and his stories. I don’t think a lot of people know what a fantastic story teller my Papaw was. When my parents got divorced, Mamaw and Papaw pretty much suspended their lives to live with Daddy, Brent and I from Sunday night to Saturday morning. Dad worked the midnight shift and so Mamaw and Papaw came to take us to school and make sure we were never home alone. Our school was quite a drive from where we lived and since these were in the days before rear DVD players, those hour long trips to school could have been miserable for Brent and I.
They weren’t though – they were fascinating. All because of Papaw. Like all young girls, I had a fascination with horses, and Pap had a fascination with Louis L’Amour books. What resulted from that combination was the most amazing tale of the Lane family during frontier days. Oh, and we were a tribe of Indians. We all had Indian names, even my always politically correct Uncle Don, even if he didn’t know about it. We all had horses, sometimes more than one, and our days consisted of gathering food, firewood, and sometimes the men would go on hunts, although I don’t know that they actually caught anything. I have no idea how Papaw managed to keep all the details straight – we must have had forty family members in our tribe, and at least double that amount of horses. And it seemed we never repeated the same adventure twice.
Papaw didn’t just make up stories though – some of the stories of his boyhood were too good to have been made up. Often asked for stories were of when his brother Eugene hit him in the head with a brick, or when Eugene tried to run over him the in car, or when the dog gave birth to her puppies in the back seat of the car in Daddy’s lap, or how he would teach history at LSU for the football coach.
It’s been hard watching him age and lose that ability to remember all those details. But now, I watch my dad tell his stories – he can’t quite match the frontier days, but he sure can put you on a raft in the middle of an ocean with just a pot bellied stove and I know this ability hasn’t been lost. My heart just grieves when I think that my little girl will never have her own pony in her own Indian village like I did. But what she will have is stories that I can tell her about her great-Papaw. I can tell her of his amazing story telling ability. I can tell her about the road trip he took us on – driving two preteens from Florida to Washington state. I can tell her about how mad he would get when his sons would fire each other up – all on purpose to fire Papaw up. I can tell her of his love for his wife, how as long as they were sleeping under the same roof, they never went to bed without saying “I love you.” I can tell her how his family meant the world to him, of the pride he had in each of his sons, even if he never was very vocal about it. I can tell her of his amazing work ethic. Of his love for golf, something he used to make fun of people for playing. I can tell her of his dedication to his church, his commitment to helping others, of his love for the Lord. But mostly, I can tell her how much I love him and I’ll know, that as long as we continue to tell stories that start with “remember when Pap…” he’ll never really be gone.