Papa was one of the hardest working people I've ever seen in my life. He started his service in the Merchant Marines when he was 17 years old where he traveled all over the world. Later he served in the Army during WWII. Afterwards, he became a full time farmer and stayed home with my dad and aunt while my grandmother also worked full time. They did everything the could to send my Dad to college; my Papa always told my Dad he wanted him to have an education and career. He and my Dad were BEST FRIENDS. They did everything together. Papa loved his family and would give the shirt off his back to someone in need. He loved hunting and working the land. I was able to share in some fun hunting trips, and when we met him early in the morning to head out, he'd always bring egg sandwiches for us. He called ALL of his grandchildren "Angel" and loved to tell war stories. Sadly, Alzheimer's got a hold of Papa and he wasn't himself the last few years. But we have a lifetime of amazing memories with him. He died on my Dad's birthday, which I know sounds sad. But when we sang "Victory in Jesus" at his funeral, I thought: I bet he doesn't mind that day memorializing two of his most joyous occasions: meeting his son and meeting the Father.
Big Jack was born on July 29th, 1922. He self taught himself to be an auctioneer at the age of 15, while he helped his dad haul cattle and donkeys to the Fort Worth Stockyards. (Which he loved to reminisce about.) He also served our country in the Air Force and afterwards successfully managed the stockyard in Hattiesburg, MS. He was well known and greatly loved by the livestock community. Like my Papa, Big Jack loved his family with every ounce of his being and worked to the bone (many times all night) to provide for their needs. He was completely and utterly in love with my Grammy until his last breath. He had such a quiet strength and was the most patient man I've ever witnessed. He came to every piano recital, showchoir competition, awards program, and sheep/pig show that he could physically make it to. There was no bigger fan in the audience. He taught me how to play poker with matches, took me to "putting practice", and took us camping in the "little camper" that of course he built with his own hands. He was a man of utmost integrity. I can't begin to wrap my head around the determination that he must have had to accomplish the things that he did.
I'd like to point out that both of these men really had the cards stacked against them. They came from tough backgrounds and poor beginnings. But they both worked with every ounce of their energy to serve their families. I know that they love watching their families flourish really because of the foundation that they laid. I miss them both very much, especially when I go back home to Mississippi. The memories just come flooding back. Their lives were a gift from God, and I hope that I inherited even an ounce of their ambition, love, and loyalty.