Five years ago today my Papa went to Heaven.
We all knew the time was close. His wife and all seven of his children were around him, praying, singing, and reading the Scriptures that Papa had memorized so many years earlier. His sons- and daughters-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, spread throughout the country, were waiting for the news that this sweet man had gone Home to his Lord, Savior, and Best Friend.
My phone rang and I answered it. My mom was on the other end, and she simply said, “Papa’s in Heaven now.” Neither one of us could find words to say, so we ended the call.
Over the next few days messages of love and support came pouring in through emails, cards, and Facebook posts. Our precious, unassuming Papa had introduced so many people to Jesus and influenced countless lives, and everyone wanted to be able to let us know how much of a difference he made on this earth.
Of all of the beautiful tributes we read, this post from my Uncle Joe was my favorite:
Well, Donald Ray Pack, who never really cared for wedding receptions because of the dancing, is now “Dancing with his Father God, in fields of grace” . . . Sounds like a good place for him to be.
It is amazing to me how quickly these past five years have gone by.
I was not able to attend Papa’s funeral because I was on bed-rest before the birth of my fourth child. Now that same child, who shares a middle name with the PaPaPa he never met, is an energetic almost five year old, learning to read and write.
It is also amazing to me how many little things still remind me of Papa: a box of Cheeze-Its, the sound of dominoes, or a cactus in the desert that is undoubtedly waving back to me.
At church on Sunday we sang Amazing Grace. I had been thinking about the fact that this week marked Papa’s 5th Anniversary in Heaven, and as we got to the final verse of the song, I couldn’t help but smile:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
Papa has been there five years. Five years of dancing. Five years of singing. Five years of wholeness in the presence of God.
And he has no less days to sing God’s praise than when he first began.
So, Happy Anniversary, Papa. I love you. I miss you. But thank you so much for teaching me about Jesus and showing me how to walk with Him. I know I’ll see you again. And we’ll dance in His presence together.
See you soon!