A month ago… as I sit here and hit backspace several times… not wanting to type the words… let alone admit the words…. we have one less at our table for family dinners.
My hero, my first love, the one I hold all others up to, my everything, my Daddy went home. And because I love him so very much, I told him to go home. I shocked even myself with the words. It was like an out of body experience looking down onto myself saying – did you really just utter those words out loud? And yes, I did.
God has had His hand in our walk from day one to today. I have said often I do not know how people go a day without knowing Jesus. The comfort, the peace, the knowing I will be with him again is beyond all understanding and it is how I am standing upright. How I am able to type these words. How I get out of bed each and every day and take care of myself and those around me. I have been raised to be tough. I’ve watched tough. I have been raised by tough.
Here are my tribute words that I spoke in hopes to comfort my family’s hearts and those around us and to express my love and adoration of a man that is and forever will be the love of my life. The one I trusted the most. The one who never let me down. The one who always has my back and the one who was the toughest on me.
I’ve been trying to prepare what to say today for a week and the words keep failing me. I’ve been told to just speak from the heart. What can I say about a man who speaks for himself? The legacy he leaves us through his work, his life, his love of family surpasses anything I could ever imagine. Everywhere I look I see my Dad. I am so blessed that every time I walk out my door, I see him. I will never leave marks on this Earth like he has. I pulled into the Do-It Center yesterday to get a new flag that Momma wanted for the house and every inch of that place, his him. The man has worked since he was 15 years old. That is almost 60 years of sculpting the earth. And sculpt he did.
And it isn’t just the earth he sculpted. He sculpted lives. Our lives and the lives of so many others. The impact he has had on people was evident last night. As we stood and proudly receiving people as they filed through, I leaned over to Briar Mason and said – you had no idea how much your Pappy is admired and respected did you? He said – no, I had no idea.
Respect is the only thing my Dad ever demanded from us besides getting an education. I remember taking him my first certificate I received from college as he sat on his dozer sculpting his friend’s driveway. He looked it and said – Good. Now go get another one as he handed it back to me. And, I did. I can still see them in the hot gym of the University of Rio Grande as I walked across the stage. I never, ever wanted to disappoint him or my mom.
People have said – I don’t know why you’re so afraid of your Dad. And my reply has been and continues to be – it is a healthy respectful fear. The man never laid a hand on us, ever. He didn’t have to.
I’ve tried to remember the kind words people have expressed to us throughout this and the words that have been said over and over are how proud he is of us, how close we all are and the love we have for one another shows every single day and that where you see one – you will see the others and what an amazing family we are. I know I don’t have to tell you but we are who we are because of Paul & Linda Williams. We were raised this way and are raising our own this way too. It is all we know and I pray the legacy continues through our kids.
When Greg and I were picking out our wedding date, we chose to marry on Momma & Daddy’s anniversary, New Years Eve. My parents have shown through the years love and honor in sickness and in health and that is a testimony in itself. Neither have ran when times got tough. They dug their heels in and fought. Just last week he called her his girlfriend of 53 years. Behind every successful man stands a great woman and for that Momma, I thank you.
My Mom said, we fought and won some battles but we lost the war and I reminded her that he won overall. I have lived in fear my whole life of losing my Dad but I haven’t lost him. I know exactly where he is and he will forever reign there in peace, love, happiness and health. And if you picked up a card out front you will notice is doesn’t have an end of life date and that is because he lives forever. I said to mom in our lives there is a comma not a period because we will carry forward for him and she said, your Dad is an exclamation mark. And that he is. I’ve seen grown men weep over my Dad. And that means more to me than you will ever know because as Momma said, he is an exclamation mark. I don’t like was. He is, he is alive and well in Heaven and when the thunder rolls you will know it is THE Paul Williams preparing mansion sites.
As we put in the newspaper, in honor of Paul Williams, take your family to dinner. And the reason we put that is because my Dad is all about family. We make it a point to have dinner together once a week and all of us once or twice a month. So when you do, raise a glass and toast the greatest man I have ever known.
I will end with this. Piglet said to Pooh: How do you spell love? Pooh replied: You don’t spell it, you feel it. Not one day of my life have I ever wondered if I am loved. Because, I’ve always known it because I’ve felt it.
I’ve had friends who have said – Father’s Day will be the hardest for you as it will be your first without him. And I honestly have pondered on that comment and have discussed it with GW. Every day we made it Father’s Day. We celebrate each other every single day. Either by a text, a phone call, a hug or supporting one another at events we have and attend. Just like Valentine’s Day. We don’t take one day out of 365 to show each other that we love them and what they mean to us. So, yes, it may be a little tough but I am tougher.
I have learned more about myself in the last month than in the last 46 years (almost). I have surprised myself and am proud of myself too. We aren’t quitters, we aren’t lazy and we never, never, never give up. And for that, I am grateful.