It can be extremely easy to become wrapped up in the fun of Memorial Day – a day off work, cookouts, games, parades, etc.; but Memorial Day is more than that. It is a day to remember those who have lost their lives protecting our freedoms.
Today, I want to honor the men and women of our military; but I also want to remember and honor the loved ones I’ve lost. I am who I am because of them. I live my life to make them proud. There’s a little of each of them in me, and I am proud to be part of their legacy.
Willie Lucas – My Dad
Looking at this picture, I can’t help but smile. Dad was such a trooper. If you knew my dad, you knew he was a t-shirt and sweatpants/sweat shorts kind of guy. Wearing a tux with a vest and bow tie? He would only do that for his little girl! He’s was so funny at the reception when he asked me if he could take off the jacket. Upon hearing the word “yes”, you could see true relief in his eyes!
Dad was a City of Columbus police officer for 30 years. For a large part of that time, he worked the west side area where we now live. Growing up, he would call me every night without fail. Even if we only talked for a few minutes, we talked. When I was older and could drive, I knew where I could find him. If he wasn’t on a run, I could find him in the parking lot of a church at W. Broad and 70. Every day, I pass that church, and I still look at the lot expecting to see his squad car.
My goofy humor, my love for travel, my adventurous side, the silly little songs I sing – I got that all from my dad. Some of the best memories I have come from the summers where we would travel all over the US. We saw some amazing sites, visited some amazing places, listened to a lot of Ray Stevens! Every time Philip and I visit one of those places, I can feel dad’s presence. I can see him standing by a sign. I can hear him telling me to “watch for snakes”. I might be nearing 40, but there are still days where I wish my dad were here to beat some people up for me!
Marie “Duke” Lucas – My Aunt
There’s never been anyone like my Aunt Duke, and there never will be. When I think of her, I think selfless, smart, giving, kind, funny, dedicated, hard working. Her nephews and niece meant the world to her, and we were blessed to call her aunt. Her house was a sanctuary. When you went to visit, you knew there would be fun, lots of laughs, good food, and memories to last a lifetime.
My wackiness, my perfectionism, my love of math, and so much more come from her. The older I get, the more like her I become. I couldn’t ask for a better role model. Every time I look in the mirror, I see her staring back at me only with better hair! Those of you who knew her know that isn’t an insult; and if she was here, she would say the same thing!
Mabel Lucas – My Grandma
I never knew my dad’s dad. He passed away when the youngest of dad’s brothers and sisters was just 9 months old. That left my grandma alone with 8 children. She worked as a teacher and mother raising 8 children on here own. She was a Godly woman who remained active in the church until she was no longer able to attend due to her health.
Raising 8 children alone in the hills of West Virginia, you would think she would have plenty to complain about; but you would never have known. When I think of Mamaw, I think of how she loved her soap operas and how she would get me addicted when I would stay with them during the summer. I think of how she loved to tell the story of when she got a blood clot in her leg and had to be life flighted to the hospital. I think of her diligently writing down the country music videos on the countdown each week and comparing them to the week before. I think of her pestering me to death when I had my tonsils removed – wanting me to just eat something. I think of how she loved my mom and treated her like her own daughter even after my parents divorced. She was truly an amazing woman.
Bill Gillenwater – My Papaw
If you look up “ornery” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of my papaw! Him and my dad were two peas in a pod. Mix in Philip’s dad, and the world would explode from the orneriness! When I told papaw that Philip and I were engaged, the response was classic.
Amy: Papaw, guess what I got mom for her birthday!
Amy: (Showing him the ring) A future son-in-law!
Papaw: You’re shittin’ me!
Amy: No, papaw, your too big!
Papaw: Come on, Pooh, let’s go hawk that thing and buy something nice!
Papaw really did love Philip. The would talk about the stock market, farming, the news; and papaw said he never saw two people with bigger smiles than he saw when Philip and I were married.
Papaw loved his garden, he loved to hunt, and he loved just being outside. Cancer took him from us and took him out of the outdoors he loved so much. Remember when I blogged about my Origami Owl necklace and said papaw was represented by a red bird? Here’s why . . .
For the last months of his life, papaw was confined to his bed. His only link to the outdoors that he loved so much was the window in his room. One day, the biggest red bird he had ever seen landed on the window sill and sat there for the longest time. This brought papaw so much joy, and he just lit up when telling people how the bird came to sit in his window.
Towards the end, thing were really bad; and papaw spent most of the days sleeping. One day, when he was awake and mom was tending to him, mom said a little prayer. She prayed to God that the red bird would return for papaw to see. Within a few minutes, her prayers were answered; and the red bird returned to the window sill! Mom’s prayers were answered, and papaw was able to enjoy was last moment.
I’m so blessed to have each of these people in my life – to be able to call them dad, aunt, mamaw, and papaw. I know they’re all up in heaven right now and watching over me. Knowing that I will one day see them again gives me the peace and the strength to continue through this life.