James Otis Cook
October 10, 1920 - May 23, 2005
Two years. How can that seem like an eternity? It feels like ages ago that I received my last hug from Papaw. It was Mother's Day weekend of 2005 when I would last feel his soft, gentle embrace. The last time I would hear him tell Darrin "you take care of my girl." The last time he would occupy "his" chair of honor at the dining room table. The last time we would all be together with him at the same time. I knew, deep down, when we left that Sunday that it would be the last time I saw Papaw alive. He had found out about his cancer only one year before. He had retired only six months before. His health declined rapidly. We all knew, but didn't talk about, the inevitable that was sure to come. But, there was no preparing myself. The call came at noon that day in May two years ago. I answered as always with a cheerful "hello." As soon as my cousin, Toni, uttered my name.....I knew why she had called. I could hear the despair in her voice. "He's gone." "You need to come home," she said. He had left us just a couple of hours before. He wasn't in a hospital hooked up to machines, suffering when he passed. He was at home with his wife of 50+ years. I'm so thankful for that. I just hung up the phone, held my face in my hands and cried. From that second on I knew my life would never be the same. A huge part of my heart died that day also. It still aches for him. That is the selfish part of me. The part that wanted him to stay here with us forever. The part that still needs his love, guidance and humor to this day. The logical side of me knew that he was no longer suffering. His lungs could now take a long, deep breath. He was now in the company of his parents and sister who had gone on before. He was finally residing in the mansion God had waiting for him in heaven.
I have visited his grave twice in these past two years. The first was the day after he was buried. I cried and took a few flowers to dry as a keepsake. The second time was to see his marker after it was placed. Seeing his name written in gold on that long piece of bronze was more than I could take. I haven't been back since. I prefer to remember him as the man he was, not as a man entombed in the earth. I could go on and on about my Papaw. I could tell you how he was the one man in my life that was a constant. How he was more like a father than a grandfather. How he led me to Christ one Sunday morning when I was twelve. How he shared every major milestone in my life...high school and college graduations, marriage, child birth, etc. He was the greatest man I have ever known. I continue to miss him terribly. However, I know that by the grace of God I will see him again. And, as Brad Paisley sings, "When I get where I'm going...I'm going to walk with my granddad....he'll match me step for step.....I'll tell him I've missed him every minute since he left.....then I'll hug his neck."
I've written several poems about my Papaw. If you'd like, you're invited to read them.
I have also penned several posts about this special man: