Grandpa in Heaven

My 3-year-old has an amazing relationship with his grandparents. He is fortunate enough to have living Grandparents on both sides of our family. I wasn’t as lucky when I was growing up. I was never able to meet either of my Grandpas but had a lot of love for my Grandmas. It was extremely important to me, when deciding to have a family, that my kids have a similar relationship.

My Husband’s Parents

My husband’s Mom is called Nana. It’s the name given to her by her firstborn granddaughter. This is what all the grands call her. She lives in North Louisiana, and even though we have to plan when we get to visit, it’s extra special when we do. She lives on a piece of property that also houses a few other family members. It’s a real treat to be able to see all of them at once. Jackson loves Nana’s house because she always has good food and he gets to play outside in the dirt until the sun goes down.

His Dad also lives in about 3 hours north of us. We split our time between the two houses when we go up there. There is never enough time at either! Jackson loves Pawpaw Bird because he has cows, a horse, and a TRACTOR. He asks for rides and would spend the whole day in the tractor if he could. One day I’m sure he will require Pawpaw Bird to teach him to drive it.

I know they love Jax and he loves them too. Thank goodness for video calling on our phones! This is one important way we keep in touch in the months that go by seeing each other.

My Parents

He calls my Mom GiGi and my Stepdad Papa. He has the route we take to their house memorized. “Turn left here Mama,” he says and sings “This is the way to GiGi’s house, early in the morning” every single time we go.

I love to watch their relationship grow. GiGi gives all her love to him and he eats it up. He also asks her for snacks and drinks every 5 minutes and she happily obliges, he eats those too.

Papa buys him the coolest toys (that are secretly for him too), rides him around on the lawnmower, and shows him how tools work. Jackson thinks Papa is a super awesome construction worker who drives an excavator for work. He isn’t too far off.
Just like Pawpaw Bird, Papa Mike also drives him around on John Deer equipment.

Papa Heaven

This is what my 3-year-old named my Dad after a conversation with him about his other Grandpa and why his middle name is Dean.

My dad passed away when I was a young girl. I remember back then being so sad because he wouldn’t be there share in new memories like watching me graduate high school and college, walk me down the aisle, or watch my theoretical kids grow up. It still makes me so emotional.

Fortunately, I have a million memories to share with my family. My son knows his Papa Heaven through stories and pictures. The burial flag I received is in Jackson’s room as a reminder that Papa Heaven will always have his back just like he had for our Country. Home movies are waiting to be transferred VHS to DVD. My son often says things like “Papa Heaven lives up in the sky” or “I wish we could visit Papa Heaven” to which I happily reply “Yes buddy, he is in Heaven and someday when you are really really old and have lived a good life you’ll be able to see him.”

I vow to keep his memory alive.

And I think I’m doing a pretty good job of that.

Happy 60th Birthday Papa Heaven we love you. 

Marissa Winters
Marissa has lived in Lafayette since 2014 and quickly fell in love with Louisiana culture, community spirit and the amazing food!! Marissa is the Director of Healthy Acadiana at the United Way of Acadiana and loves to be the helper. Marissa has a 5 year old named Jackson and absolutely loves being his Mama. Follow along with them as they navigate the waters of school, co-parenting, and so much more.


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