Today is my Papa’s birthday, he’d be 75 this year. We have this strange thing in my Wolford family where a lot of us were born in October, I mean a lot. Papa and I are almost exactly fifty years apart. I was born on October 16, 1990 he on October 4, 1940. I always appreciated this, because otherwise I would not have been able to remember how old he was. Numbers and dates aren’t my thing.
But they were his thing. Papa was incredibly smart and could rattle off a complex equation in seconds. He was funny, really funny. I can still hear his laugh when I think of the stories he would tell. He adored his family and truly was the best Papa I could have ever asked for or even dreamed of. Papa had his faults, but when it came to how he loved and treated his family, well let’s just say he was in a league of his own. Nothing made him happier than seeing his family come together and fill up the house. And we’d fill it. Roughly twenty of us (plus a few large dogs) in a three bedroom two bath house. Our family comes from Ft. Worth, Chicago, Nashville, and Atlanta. We travel specifically to see each other during the summer holidays in Arkansas and in the winter we go to Chicago for Christmas. We’ve done this for decades, long before I was even on Billy Goat’s Hill. We do it because we’re a family and we love each other, through thick and thin.
Papa died December 22, 2014. It wasn’t sudden. He’d been on hospice for three weeks and he had been battling stage 4 melanoma for six hard years. During those three weeks, the Wolford family gathered repeatedly to love on Papa and tell him how wonderful and amazing he was and still is. Papa was surrounded with people who loved him, old friends, new friends, and family gathered to tell him what a special man he was. What a great friend he was, what a great father he was, what a great Papa he was. His biggest concern about dying was leaving his family behind. And I have to say it has been hard.
I just want to hear his voice, when I’m struggling and feel like my world is coming down because everything is stacked against Brielle. I just want to know he’s there, but I know what he would say. He would tell me that he’s going to believe she is going to live, and why not, she’s a fighter. He would stay positive and tell me that he’s not going to stop believing in her. He’d laugh when I would tell him about the silly things she does. He’d love to see her pictures and he would love her. He’d think she was the most special thing and he’d just love her to death. It wouldn’t matter what she looked like or acted like, he’d think she was perfect and he’d tell me so too. I need my Papa and I miss my Papa. I’ll be with Papa again, but for now I, and my family, have to go on missing a beautiful and wonderful piece of our lives.
I’m thankful I got to know Papa, thankful that he fought as hard as he did, thankful that I have such a wonderful family, because of him and Grandma. He doesn’t suffer anymore and I can’t be sad about that. I can only be sad for myself. So Happy 75th Birthday Papa! I know that you are happy, I know that you are okay, and that you are not suffering or in pain. I love you and I miss you. We’ll be okay.