Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, Remembering Papa

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day is a wonderful day when we remember all of the people that have ever served our country. The more I think about it, the more I realize it is a bittersweet day. We, as Americans, are celebrating our freedom to live as we do in the U.S.A., but we are also celebrating the lives of those who defended our country and are no longer here to enjoy it.

My Papa, Taylor Cogar
One of the best men I know

Memorial Day is bittersweet for me personally as well as I remember my Papa, Taylor Cogar. Not only did he serve in the army in WWII, but he died two days before Memorial Day two years ago. I miss him very much, he was a wonderful man.

Papa and I when I was a baby.

My Papa was the kind of man that everyone liked, he made no enemies because he had such a kind and fascinating character. He would go out of his way to help you and if he gave you his word, he meant it. He promised my Grandmother that he would keep a house in WV (where they are from) so their family could continue living up there. Even though my Grandmother died 10 years before Papa and he nontheless kept his word until there was no family left to live in the house.

My Nanaw and Papa
They loved each other very much.

My Papa loved his wife Anna very much. My Nanaw struggled with diabetes, especially later on in life, but my Papa was right beside her, caring for her through all of the good times and bad. Not only did he love his wife, but he loved and respected all of his family. Even me, a little pip squeak that for most of my childhood was so ready to go and do, but Papa always took time out to just listen to me.

My Mom and Papa. 

My Papa loved his country very much. I always knew Papa served in WWII, but I didn't know anything about it and I didn't think he wanted to talk about it either. But when I was in the 9th grade, we had a writing project to interview someone who fought in WWII. My Mom suggested I talk to Papa. I was nervous because I didn't want to press on the subject. I was pleasantly surprised that he did talk, a lot. And he allowed me to understand what (at least somewhat) life was like for him in the Army. I even found out he was on Normandy Beach on D-Day. He was in the wave behind General Patton. I realize now that was one of the first grown-up conversations I ever had with him, which then opened up the door for many more.

Papa and I at Myrtle Beach enjoying ice cream on the pier

Ever summer, for as long as I can remember, I went with Papa to Myrtle Beach on Spring Break where he had a time share. I loved those trips. I would go with Mom and sometimes Dad. We even went before Nanaw died. But the later years, when I was in high school are the ones I remember the most. Again, Papa would always listen to me and respect what I wanted to do while we were there. My favorite was always miniature golf. I loved to sit on the balcony and write. I really love the beach, I'm glad I have some good memories of Papa there.

Papa, Stephen and I celebrating Papa's Birthday!

I love all of my grandparents. But, I realize now that Papa was really the only one I knew past childhood. All of my other grandparents died before I was old enough and mature enough to respect them as a person, not just being my grandparent. I respected Papa for the man he was, not just that he was my grandfather. As I got older, got into and graduated from college, got married and then became a Mother, I loved Papa even more. He was there through it all. He was at my graduation from Clemson and at my wedding. He died before he met Zoey, but he asked about her all the time (I was about 6 months pregnant when he died). I knew he was proud of me, and it makes me even more proud of myself.

Papa with all of his grandchildren.
He loved us all so much!

I enjoyed talking to him so much and even sometimes just sitting together and enjoying the afternoon. He was such a wonderful man. He was the simple, quiet man that affected your life subtly, but always for the better. It's hard not to think of Memorial Day without thinking of Papa. Then again it's hard to do much of anything without thinking of Papa. But we always celebrate his life and he lived his to the fullest!

I love you Papa!

The best picture ever!
This is often how I remember Papa.

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