Papa Day

Today is the second annual “Papa Day”.

This will be the third October 10th that my grandfather hasn’t been with us…and we all miss him horribly. I would have had so many things to tell him this year. I would have told him all about my house and showed him pictures. I would have showed him pictures of my garden and told him all about what all we were growing, the success we were having, and the lessons we were learning. I would have picked his brain for gardening tips and tricks and asked him for gardening stories. I would have showed him the hat that my mom got for Trey that is just like the one he wore. I would have told him about my new job and how happy it makes me. He would have loved that I am able to be home at a reasonable hour and that I have weekends and holidays off. He would laugh sweetly at how long Trey’s beard has gotten.

I came up with the idea for Papa Day last year as a way to make his birthday into something joyful and comforting for my family. The idea is that on this day, you honor him and do something that brings you joy, but also helps you feel connected to him in some way. You might wake up before the sun and sit with a cup of coffee to ease into the day. You might make a large breakfast spread for someone you love with biscuits and chocolate gravy, preserves, honey, eggs, bacon, etc. You might spend time in the sunshine, working outside or just sitting outside. You might make a southern dinner of cornbread and “field foods”. Whatever you want to do, or can do, that will help you feel linked in some way. It feels like a little bit of a reset to devote time and energy to just remembering him, loving him, and finding this connection.

Last year, Papa Day held a lot more than this year’s did. I was working this year, and by the time I got home - I felt too tired for much of anything. So, I took a bath, combed my hair, put on my robe, and sat down to write this. I have vivid memories of my grandfather gathering his pajamas and a towel from upstairs and going downstairs to take a shower every single night. When he would come back upstairs, he would have on his robe and his plaid pajama-bottoms would be peeking out from beneath it. He’d have on cozy socks and his house shoes. His hair would be perfectly combed and he would sometimes say something about how squeaky clean he was. He wouldn’t stay awake for much longer. His shower was always at the very end of his night.

So, here I am. Squeaky clean and ready for bed. The second Papa Day is coming to a close, and somehow he feels farther away but so much closer at the same time.

Papa Day

DWIO2293.jpg

Today was the first annual Papa Day, a holiday that I created for everyone in my family to devote the day to the memory of my grandfather. What better day to have it than on my grandfather’s birthday, October 10th. 10/10? And that’s such a fitting date for him to be born, because he truly was a 10 out of 10.

The ideal Papa Day: wake up bright and early to have a cup of coffee and have a slow start to the morning. Then, make an elaborate breakfast spread that isn’t complete without Papa’s biscuits. At some point in the day, spend time outside. Any work you do, work harder and give it your all. Spend time with family, and for dinner, have field food (black eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread etc).

This year, Trey and I woke up and with the help of my mom over FaceTime, made my very first attempt at my Papa’s biscuits. Somehow, pretty much only two people in the world know how to make these (and there’s no recipe since he would never measure anything and just go by the feel of it). It turns out that I am just like everyone else and my biscuits were pretty disastrous. Though they were supposed to be fluffy, light, and pillowy…my biscuits were dry, angry, flat and crackly. But, Trey and I listened to Christmas music and had fun nonetheless. Then, we just spent time together. We watched a movie, ventured outside for a bit, and since we were both off work today, we came home and rested some more.

Having an annual Papa Day isn’t going to help any of us miss him any less. I miss his hugs, the smell of his pipe tobacco, and the sound of the tobacco pouch crinkling in his shirt pocket when I hugged him. I miss the sound of his voice and his rich laughter. I miss watching him watch someone as they spoke - really listening to what they were saying. I miss the comfort of just knowing that he was around. I miss him calling me his “Sadie”, I was never “Sarah” to him. I miss the way he combed his hair. I miss every.single.thing. I miss it all. But…very recently I noticed that my mom has his eyes. The shape. The color. I also noticed that my older brother hugs just like him, and I like to watch him while he watches someone speak - because he really listens, too.

I feel that having this day set aside every year is going to be healing for my family. I feel that it will give all of us the opportunity to take a minute to stop and just relish the memory of him. We’ll be able to acknowledge and appreciate all of the ways that we are like him, and we can move forward into the rest of the year, feeling just a little bit lighter.

So, Papa Day was a success. I know that somewhere in AL, my family members are having field food right now. I’m going to go cuddle my husband, have another cup of coffee, and look for a house to buy. Hug tighter, listen harder, and nestle yourself way down deep into the moments that you have with the people around you. XO.

Love, Sadie