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This is not an obituary. It's not a cold, technically correct description of how and when someone died and who it is that's still around to deal with the aftermath with a notification about when the funeral is. In about two days a lot of us will get out of bed, go on about all the things that we need to get done, and then at around three o'clock we'll get dressed. We'll pile into cars and head to the funeral home. There there will be a service, maybe some people will speak about who he was, how he died, but you know what we won't talk enough about? How he lived. I found this picture in an old tin Star Wars lunch box that I keep the things that are most important to me in; pictures of my family, a little heart-shaped craft that means the world to me, a flower from an old friend, etc. It made me sad that this was the only picture I had or could find and I'm writing this because he deserved more than an old picture in a box or a tiny pamphlet with his birthday and the day he died on it.
This evening my mom, my brother, and I were sitting in our living room reminiscing and laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. She told us about this time she and my dad were living with Ronnie. His snake, Houdini, got out of its cage. When my mom discovered it, she whispered it to my dad and in the next room my grandpa shot up out of bed screaming, "Herschel, you better find that snake!" My mother found it, curled up on top of his cage and giving a very literal meaning to the phrase "if it was a snake, it would have bitten you." There was another time she told us about that I wasn't sure why she found funny, but apparently she, my aunt, an old boyfriend of my aunt's, and my grandfather were headed to AstroWorld. My aunt backed into a very expensive Corvette and what did that guy and Grandpa do? They hit the gas and took off. As it turns out, there was no damage to the other car and they all ended up at AstroWorld together. Now it's a story that I'm not entirely sure why is so funny my mother almost cried, but it's still a beautiful one. It made me think about all the memories besides this one. I didn't know him as a father like my dad or my aunt. I didn't know him as a husband like Kelli, his wife, or my grandmother. I didn't know him as a son like Grandma Francis. I knew him as Pawpaw. For the first 12 years of my life, his full name was Pawpaw Ronnie. I knew him as my grandfather, a man that was happy to see me most days. I remember bowling. I remember BBQs, Christmas, Thanksgiving, family holidays, fun birthdays, most of which were in my Grandma Francis' backyard. I didn't know him as a biker like his friends. I knew him as the man that put me on the back of his bike and let me ride around even after an adult that was very much in charge of me had said no. I knew him as the man that habitually met his friends at the local Denny's on Sunday mornings. I didn't know him as an employee like his boss out at The Hill. I knew him as a pair of tan, steel-toed, boots that were forever covered in grayish-blue colored Lime that me and my siblings used to put on and try to walk around in without permission. It took three times longer to stomp around the garage in those boots than in regular shoes, but it never stopped us from fighting over whose turn it was and promptly getting caught. I remember quite literally running around in circles in the backyard and running up the "hidden" staircase in the house to knock on the upstairs apartment door. I remember him as my Pawpaw and there's a good chance that's what I'll remember forever. In two years, I might not have any idea if there were flowers there in a couple of days. I might not know exactly what color the urn his ashes are going in is. I'll remember the boots. I'll remember the way his work shirt always smelled when we hugged him. I'll remember how he always wore a hat, because he was bald on the top, but not the sides. I won't remember how empty I'm going to feel in a couple of days or much it hurts. I won’t even remember the hours I’ve been crying. I won’t remember being with family, but being and I hope no one else does, because if all you have to remember is a memorial service, you missed out. If you’ve learned nothing in the last 800 words, I hope you had time to know him in his life, because I did. And I’ll always understand why there’s a reason to love and miss him. Take the time to love the people you love. They go away and it's not always their choice. Everything else is replaceable.