A week ago today, we celebrated the life of my 94 year old grandfather, Jack Griffin, who I affectionately called “Paw Paw.” I had the privilege of sharing a bit about him at his funeral and wanted to log my words here to give them a more permanent place to land as well as share him and what he meant to me with a greater audience. Its a bit of humor, sentimental memories and the hope that we will see Him again because of salvation in Jesus…
I’m really honored to get to share about my Paw Paw with you today as I’ve had a lot of time over the past few years to reflect on my relationship with him as my grandfather…mainly because there were many, many times I thought were his last day…only for him to miraculously surprise us all and hang in there to see another day…which I’m pretty sure has to be attributed to all the carrot sticks and apple slices Mimi forced him to eat every day around 5:00 while she got dinner ready. We all ate them and you better believe my kids are now eating their fair portion of this Griffin family fountain of youth secret.
I had the gift of spending a lot of time with my grandparents growing up, as we practically lived at their house after school and during the summers. Paw Paw kept us all in line and Mimi kept Paw Paw in line. I love hearing their love story, and I’ve heard it a lot throughout the course of my life, about the electricity Mimi felt when she saw him walk in the gingham kitchen, how Sister told her to over charge him for his meal and a whirlwind romance that led to a marriage just a few months later. When Mimi would get frustrated with him she would look at me and say “he sure is a toot, but I love him!”
A few things that I think of when I think about my Paw Paw are plates of food COVERED in pepper, a proud American, squeezing my hand almost painfully tight during meal time prayers, the way he would brush his hair from the back to the front, fooling hundreds of people for the last 3 decades that he wasn’t bald, picking me up from school countless times, cheering me on in whatever sport or activity I was involved in at that time, sitting next to him in church and hearing him singing hymns so loudly and somewhat out of tune, always working in the yard and giving the tightest hugs while telling me he loved me and was proud of me. Paw Paw was rough around the edges, but loved fiercely. I’ll never forget when Mimi and I brought their dog Daphne home. As we walked in their door and Mimi brought Daphne into the den where he was sitting, he looked at the dog and lets just say, he had some choice words about where we should take that dog and it was not in their house. Over time, Daphne became Paw Paw’s companion and lap dog and I’m pretty sure he would spoil her with bowls of ice cream. Quite the 360.
I’m also pretty sure Paw Paw’s belief in us alone could have carried us up a mountain and to this day, I still am surprised that Blake did not become a Major League Baseball pitcher because according to Paw Paw, he was going to be on the starting Astro’s lineup and would shock the world with his knuckleball. To be honest though, I think Paw Paw is even more proud that Blake has a career in oil and gas, just like he did.
And while i know he loved us all equally, we all know who his favorite was. Brent. Their bond was so special
I’m also so grateful that we got to introduce our newest little one, Griffin, to Paw Paw. While it wasn’t in ideal circumstances since it had to be through the window of his room, the surprise of seeing us there with his namesake was something I’ll cherish forever. It was a full open mouth smile, double first pump in the air with a few tears in his eyes. He was recovering from hip surgery but nothing was going to stop him from leaping out of at that bed the best he could to stand and see his newest great grandchild.
To me, that is a pretty good image of the life he lived. From the little I know about his childhood, the odds were against him. But with his unrelenting grit, determination, faith in Jesus and love for his family, he lived a life that is worthy of celebrating. He traveled the world and had so many amazing stories to tell.
I am so sad that Paw Paw is gone, but there is great joy in knowing that he is in heaven with Jesus. And Paw Paw would want you to know that and wants you to be there with him too. No one escapes this day, it comes for us all. And the reason Paw Paw is in heaven right now isn’t because of how generous he was, and he was certainly generous and it wasn’t about how faithful he was to come to church, which he was or any other reason that he could have achieved on his own merit. He is in heaven now because he put his entire trust in believing that Jesus is who he said he was and would offer forgiveness to anyone and everyone, no matter how good you think you’ve been or bad your past may be.
As I mentioned earlier, Paw Paws passionate and unashamed singing of the hymns remains one of my favorite memories of him. Even right now, I can hear his voice belting out from the back right pew in the center section of First Baptist Church. And the song in particular that always comes to mind is Love Lifted Me.
I was sinking deep in sin
Far from the peaceful shore
Very deeply stained within
Sinking to rise no more
But the Master of the sea
Heard my despairing cry
From the waters lifted me
Now safe am I
Love lifted me
Love lifted me
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me
Jesus is the Love that lifted Paw Paw out of the depths of the ocean of sin and continued to transform and soften his heart until his final day. I’m grateful for the legacy of faith he gave to my mom, and now to me, that I can continue to impart on my kids.
Paw Paw, we love you, will miss you, and can’t wait to see you again.