You know, until yesterday morning, I never really realized how much Paw Paw smiled. I mean, subconsciously I knew that he smiled all the time, but to really see it yesterday was very overwhelming. It made it hard to stand in front of friends and family to simply read a poem, when the man that is Ralph Woerner was presented in such a way that tears hit me like a load of bricks falling off the empire state building. I don't think it was sadness, I wouldn't say I was sad, though I wasn't crying tears of joy either. I think Richard said it best, I was just overwhelmed with the love he had for us while here on earth.
I don't have tons of stories that I can share about our Paw Paw, but I do know that after hearing all the memories that have been shared these past few days that I can clearly see, and say with certainty, that much of the man I am today is thanks to Paw Paw. I am much more like him than I originally thought. He's the kind of man I wish to be as I continue to grow older in Christ and in this physical shell. The things that Paw Paw is notorious for, are the things I long to do. I want to be passionate about everything I do, I want people to feel unconditionally loved regardless of their past, I want to be able to give money without a second thought, to be hospitable to all who come my way. I even have his walk!! It's probably more of a Woerner thing than anything else, but I honestly think I inherited that shuffle he always had when he walked from place to place. I'm so proud to be in his family.
Paw Paw was a far better man than I could have ever really imagined. The more stories I hear about him, the more I think, "I wish I could have seen that Paw Paw." Then again, I think my interaction with him has always been a bit different than most. I never saw the fired up Paw Paw, unless he was being stern with me. The Paw Paw I have always known is the silent one. A man of few words, and wisdom that seemed to just leap out at you from his eyes. It was like he could read you like a book. I remember in these past six months, that the time I felt connected with Paw Paw the most, is when we would just sit in silence, in the lawn chairs in his car port, just watching, observing really, the movements of the family around us. I would look over at him and smile, and he would just nod his head. Words were not needed, we both knew that we loved each other. I guess that was just the way we reacted with each other.
There were so many more memories I wanted to make with him. Memories of my wedding, and even my first kid. I wanted him to be there to share those joys with me, but I suppose God decided that there was a better plan, and who am I to argue with the creator of the universe?
Paw Paw was just one of those people who fed to me a passion for people through his life. Through his actions, he changed my life, and we barely even spoke upon the theological issues. We were just two practical men, watching our family, and loving them all the same.
So on a day that I would normally reflect on how my life has been, I spend it instead reflecting on how my Paw Paw has infectiously changed my life for eternity, with one step at a time. I already miss you.