When I was a toddler, my papa popped his dentures out of his mouth right in front of me. Wailing, I desperately tried to try to stuff them back in with my chubby toddler hands, certain that something was very, very wrong. It’s one of his favorite stories to tell now; he always gets that mischievous glint in his eye and an honest-to-goodness case of the giggles whenever it comes up. It’s easy to forget that my papa isn’t a teenager when he laughs like that, all lighthearted joy.
Papa was a logger before he finally retired. His standard outfit was a pair of worn, mud-stained jeans, a t-shirt that smelled like sap, and hefty boots. We referred to him as a mountain goat because he could traverse hillsides quicker than just about anyone (a fact that my dad and brother lamented when they went on hunting trips with him). Papa is the kind of man who belongs in nature—surround him with trees and wildlife, somewhere far from civilization, and he is at home.
Papa leaves doors open, or walks around with his boot laces undone and flapping all over, or spills food down his shirt, and someone inevitably asks, “Were you raised in a barn?” And we all laugh, because he was. Maybe that’s why he’s one of the most contentedly generous men I know.
Papa is one of the foundation stones of our family, always has been. He’s goofy as all get-out, sure, but he’s also thoughtful and deliberate. He treats my nana like a queen, and he loves God with his entire heart. He loves with intentionality, laughs with both lungs, and lives each day with purpose. I can only hope to have a fraction of his character one day.