We bring our family home to die. I used to think it was only a Southern thing because it was only in the South where I saw that done.
Today, we will bury a family patriarch. Two weeks ago, we
brought him home from the hospital to die. We knew his time was coming to an
end. Doctors and nurses had told us so. But we still held out hope that once he
was home, under the loving care of family, that his condition would turn around
and our beloved Papa Mook would be his cantankerous self again. That he would
go back to loving on his “sweet, sweet girls” and finding fault with the sons
who never learned how to sharpen a knife properly. God’s plans were not his
Sitting hospice is never an easy thing to do. You worry over
the little things. A raspy cough will make your heart race. You worry for their
comfort and pain and the things they can no longer convey to you with their
words. You count your loved one’s every breath. You sit and you wait for the
inevitable and you pray that you are not there alone when they take that last inhale
of air. His eldest son and his youngest daughter were with him in the end.
There was an abundance of love that surrounded him. Energy
that flooded the space. His family sat vigilant, everyone taking turns to pull
their weight to the best of their ability. Laughter would ring from room to
room. Sometimes, tears would, too. The princesses would don their masks to go “check”
on him throughout the day. One remarked that she liked to sit with him and the
angels who had come to visit, too. Their Papa Mook was much loved!
Walter Wesley Woody Sr. was a man of many layers. He was set
in his ways and he would not be moved from his convictions. He took pride in
his name and what that represented. He was honored that his eldest son and
grandson also carried the same moniker. He was a talented musician who could wield
his way around a guitar with the best of the best. He was a master carpenter with
skills others envied. Sadly, the circumstances of being a black man in the racially-charged
South kept him from realizing the full potential of his talents.
He was a man of modest means, but he lived his life
abundantly. He had no regrets, owning every aspect of the life
he lived. He was an amazing grandfather and great-grandfather. He loved to take the children
fishing when he was able. He told them stories with lessons they may not
understand until they are adults themselves. He laughed with his grandsons over
their girlfriend problems. He whispered secrets they will all hold until the end of time. Our pretty princesses, his sweet sweet girls, were one of his greatest joys.
I was always in awe of how he remembered dates, times, and
places with the recall as if he were telling you what he’d had for breakfast
that morning. He was a walking history book and what he may have lacked in
formal education, he more than made up for with common sense. His impact in the
lives of his family will be passed down for generations to come. Not even they
realize yet how monumental his experiences will be on their future. He was a
giant among men, and he didn’t even know it.
Walter Wesley Woody Sr., age 80, transitioned to eternal rest on December 23, 2020. Papa Mook will be missed.