…Uncle Charles, Daddy #2, Candy Man… I have called you so many names over the years. It is hard to believe it has been three months since God called you home so unexpectedly.
I remember you saying that when everyone else thought I was going to be a boy, you thought I was going to be a girl. I guess that is how far back our story goes. I was at your wedding – one of the youngest guests – with six months left to “bake” before I would meet you and my future godmother, Becky. I suppose I have never not known you.
You have been there since before my daddy was my daddy – hanging out and growing up with him. I am weeping as I write this because I wish I could say it all to your face. I did not know I would never have the chance again. I guess you could say I was a fool for not stopping by to see you more often when I visited the “motherland.” As the saying goes, you do not know what you have until it is gone.
Since before I can remember, you were always there with candy. No kid left church on Sunday morning without a lollipop in his or her mouth. What joy to see the Candy Man coming! Armstrong’s Grocery loved to see you coming too. I am pretty sure you kept them in business. ~smile~
When I was seven, I remember going to a small Italian restaurant with you and Becky. I am not sure why this memory stands out to me… but, after we ate, we walked on the beach and I remember you and Becky holding hands as you strolled. It was sweet and it must have made a lasting impression on my young mind. Every married couple was an “old” married couple to me back then, but I suppose you were still newlyweds at heart.
Fast-forward a few years and I remember sitting in your living room as you held the new baby boy God so graciously gave you and Becky. Sure, the baby was cute, but I was jealous. ~smile~ I remember you telling my Dad how good it felt to hold him and know that he was yours. Having no brothers and sisters, you allowed me to love on your little boy as my own sibling. Who else besides you and Becky would allow a ten-year-old to hang around all the time? You made me feel like part of your family – never like I was a bother.
I can still remember the car ride where I asked you if you would be my godfather, having absolutely no idea all that such a commitment would entail. I just thought, “If my parents are Chase’s godparents, can Becky and Charles be mine?” You did not hesitate. You immediately responded, “Yes!” And, from then on, you and Becky have been another set of parents in my heart – Daddy #2 and Mama #2.
You probably did not remember this conversation… but when I was eleven, you told me I was gorgeous. What little girl at one time or another has not questioned her appearance? This little girl questioned it all the time. I cannot remember how the conversation started. All I know is we were sitting around the dinner table at your house, and you responded to my obvious insecurity with the words, “You are gorgeous.” You did not say it flippantly. You looked at me and said it as if you deeply meant it. There is no way you could have known what a lasting impression that statement would make in my life. So many times I have returned to that moment for reassurance. I wish every eleven-year-old girl had someone like you to tell her she is beautiful.
As the years passed, you continued to be there for me. You taught me about ministry. You taught me about giving. Sunday mornings you would say, “Check your pocket!” and I would reach inside your jacket pocket and pull out a hand full of “mature” candy such as certs, gum, and probably a few tootsie pops as well.
You would tell people you had a son and a daughter. I cannot express how much that meant to me (now even more than it did then). I am not sure there was ever a time you did not hug me and tell me you loved me. You were always telling your loved ones how much they meant to you. It broke our hearts to say goodbye, but I can assure you of this – we all knew you loved us. No one had to wonder.
Lately, I feel more compelled than ever to let my loved ones know how much I care about them. We think our family and friends will live forever. Sometimes, we do not realize how special they are until we are forced to say goodbye. I constantly tell our readers to live life with no regrets and, yet, I foolishly allowed so much time to pass between visits. Maybe that is where my tears are coming from? Knowing I wasted so many opportunities to thank you, spend time with you, and tell you I love you. Life should never get that busy. I am sorry, Daddy #2. I am so sorry. I rest in the hope that I will have eternity to say what I need to say.
The last time you saw my Mom, you told her to tell me that you loved me. I love you too, Daddy #2. I can hear you saying it now in your own special way.
We sure do miss you here as we wait for eternity. We would not wish you back from such paradise, but our hearts still ache. You left behind a legacy.
Happy 59th Birthday in Heaven. What a blessing to know you are in the arms of our Savior. Until we meet again, I love you, I thank you, and I miss you.