The Gift of Memories Vickie Flockhart, Guest Blogger

Have you ever had a loved one pass away? I’m sure that you have or at you have at least been around someone who has lost someone.

I was extremely close to my grandmother, Mary Kirby Calder when I was growing up. She was my hero and a great inspiration to me. She was legally blind but she was a strong and independent woman who did not want to be pitied.

My grandmother passed away on April 15 when I was 16 after battling pancreatic cancer for over a year. I have some great memories of times spent with my grandmother.

8 years ago, my Daddy suffered a mini stroke after suffering from diabetes for years, and he was hospitalized for 3 months before passing away on April 19, 2007.

That totally turned my world upside down. We all know that death is part of life and we expect our parents to die when they get older, but I still was not prepared. I remember going to pick out his coffin and I just felt like I was suffocating and wanted to get out of the room as quickly as possible.

My Dad was a very humble and a very generous man. If he had $20.00 in his wallet, you left with $15 and he kept $5. He was very quiet and easy going. Until you made him mad, that was not a good thing! It took a lot to get him mad but messing with his family would do it. He was fiercely protective over my Mom, my sister and I.

If you know me, you know that I love sports…that came from my Dad. I remember growing up watching Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, Willie Mayes and so many other great baseball players. He really loved baseball and had been a pitcher as a young man.

I remember when Steve and I had our first son, Stevie…my Dad and Mom lived about 10 minutes away from us and my Dad would drop by to visit every day on his way to work. I loved watching him hold little Stevie and talk to him. I didn’t realize at the time what a precious memory that would be later in my life.

My parents have always adored our children. All of our kids would beg to go and stay with “Nanny and PaPa” for days at a time. My parents kept our kids when we were out of town. My Dad would play around with them, dance with them and just create fun times.

He was Jeremiah’s baseball coach and he taught him to pitch. Those two on the baseball field were something else!

My son Andrew carries my maiden name “Maynor” for my Dad. Andrew also acts like my Dad and even looks like him…even the quiet, doesn’t talk much, “hard to make him mad” factor!

Almost a year ago, my son Austin and his wife Lindsey had a baby boy. They named him Huntingtyn and they chose to use “Maynor: as his middle name. Lindsey said that she wanted to honor my Dad’s memory because she had heard what a great man he was. That has brought such pride and joy to me and I am so grateful that my children continue to love and remember their PaPa.

They say that losing a loved one is like losing an arm or a leg…you never get used to it but you learn to live without it. That is true. To this day, I catch myself thinking of calling my Daddy to rant about the Braves or tell him something cute about his great grandbabies.

Ironically, seven years ago to the day, on the first anniversary of my Daddy’s death, we lost our Papa Bennie (my Dad’s Dad). He was another incredible man who I loved dearly and have some incredible memories of. He had the best sense of humor and greatest attitude of anyone that I have ever known. Kayla, Austin and Kirby loved spending the night with him and laughing nonstop.

I miss my Dad and my Grandpa. If you still have your parents, please make time to involve them in your life. Let them spend time with their grandbabies and make some incredible memories. Because one day, they will be gone and your memories will be a precious gift.

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