You were no stranger to the rain. September 30, 2005
Papa was the picture of the strong, silent type, at least at family gatherings. With six kids and tons of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, holidays at the Gunter house were always madness. Papa always sat in his chair, taking in the chaos around him, calling people out as needed, and rolling his own (unfiltered) cigarettes on his little side table.
One of my favorite Papa stories took place the first time Aaron made the drive to Greenville with us for a holiday. This was a huge step in our relationship, as the Greenville side is a little crazy. You donâ€™t bring just anyone out there; they may never call you again. (Just kidding, Mom!) I think it was Thanksgiving, and we had just arrived at the house. Weâ€™re loaded down with casserole dishes and pies, and mom opened the tricky screen door and held it open for the rest of us to enter. Chelsea was first, then me, then Aaron. Papaâ€™s chair was positioned next to the door, but facing into the room, so as people walked in he didnâ€™t see them until they had passed him, and then only the backs of their heads. We all went straight to the kitchen to unload. When my mom came in, Papa grabbed her arm.
Papa: Thatâ€™s not Brandiâ€™s boyfriend, it is?
Mom: Wellâ€¦ yeah, dad. Thatâ€™s Aaron. There are worse guys out there!
Papa: Well I donâ€™t know where.
Iâ€™ve been thinking about Papa a lot lately. My friend Jessiâ€™s aunt died on Sunday, and we had been praying for her for a few weeks. The whole situation just brought him to mind. Like me with Papa, Jessi doesnâ€™t know what her aunt believed about God and Heaven. Itâ€™s an almost unbearable feeling. Thereâ€™s no answer for it â€“ you can pray for peace, but what does that mean? What does it look like? Because of that, I donâ€™t let myself think about him too much. He lives in a part of my mind that I donâ€™t often visit. The emotions there are just too intense most of the time.
After a week of talking to Jessi and thinking about Papa, I was emotionally exhausted. Yesterday as I was driving back from lunch, I was skipping though the radio stations. As I passed one, I recognized Vince Gillâ€™s â€œGo Rest High On That Mountainâ€. That was one of the songs played at Papaâ€™s funeral. My first instinct was to keep on going like I hadnâ€™t heard it, but instead I went back. I sat in my car and let the song fill my ears and my soul, and just cried. I had been running from those thoughts all week, and it had become too much. Iâ€™m not the type to think God speaks to me through my lunch or anything, but I do think he wanted me to hear that song and let myself go there. It was therapeutic and comforting, and for a couple of minutes I felt connected to him again.