This picture reminds me of the last time I saw Papa.
Mama had been in heaven for about 9 months.
Luke, Brock, and I took Papa for a drive all through the old neighborhood where he and my mother were first married and where we were raised. He told us stories as we drove past each of the meaningful places in their life.
When we got back to his house, we all sang together.
Papa’s favorite song was “I’ll Fly Away.” It was the last song he sang for us and when he finished singing he gave a little chuckle and said, “Oh what a good life we’ve had”.
It made me think about Nana’s story, how she fled from an abusive husband and with her last dollars bought a train ticket from Ohio to Bakersfield.
What an amazingly courageous woman she was. In those days women were expected to stick it out even in cruel situations. She was raised to know she deserved a better life, even if she lived alone in a tiny one room apartment in the back of a garage.
She worked as a hostess at the Padre Restaurant.
(Probably why she ALWAYS tipped well and never complained about waitresses. Her own struggle made her strong but even kinder.)
Papa returned from the war and had a broken heart from a mean unfaithful fiancé in Virginia.
(What a story this is.) Papa came home to Bakersfield and met Mama sometime later.
For Papa, it was love at first sight.
They really did live happily ever after, well into their 80s.
They CHOSE joy.
I never knew a happier couple.