Appalachia Pap

This Day Last Year


Pap - April 2016

Pap – April 2016

I’ve been studying about this day last year-April 18, 2016-the day before Pap died. It was a Monday like most any other Monday with the only difference being I left work after lunch to take Granny up to Hayesville to see the eye doctor. There wasn’t anything wrong, it was just her yearly check-up.

The exam went great. Granny’s eyes hadn’t changed from the previous year and she didn’t need new glasses. I actually saw the doctor that day too.

Back in January of 2016 when Pap had his second heart attack my left eye was so red and irritated one of the emergency room nurses at the VA even asked me if it was okay. Granny said she’d had enough of seeing my red eye and that I was going to go with her the next time she went to her eye doctor. I swear Granny made that April appointment before Pap even got put out into a room.

Between January and April my eye cleared itself up and a quick eye exam showed I needed glasses, but the doctor said my eyes weren’t bad enough to switch from my walmart readers to a prescription strength just yet.

Feeling good about our eyes Granny and I headed for Brasstown. Once we were home I followed her into the house to see what Pap was up to. He was sitting in his chair watching tv. We talked about Granny’s eyes and my eyes, the weather and the coming garden season. Pap also talked about how he had been feeling better. He said “I probably shouldn’t even mention it, but I’ve had a pretty good stretch of days.”

I headed home to make supper with a light heart, never thinking my world would change forever by morning.

I can hardly believe Pap’s been gone a year. I never thought I could make it without him, but I have made it, just like he told me I could.

Grief is a funny thing. I was so heart broken after he first died I could barely make it through the day then seemingly overnight my grief turned to a weird detachment of sorts. I found myself wondering if he really existed? Was he real or was he some hero we all dreamed up to make ourselves feel better?

My weird questioning doubt always brought to mind a story I’d heard a blue million times about my older brother Steve. One day he ran in from playing to ask Pap and Granny if he was real or if he was just a toy. I’d start thinking of Steve being so curious that he wanted to know if he was a real boy and that would cause me to think of stories about Paul, about me, and about all the grandkids and then I’d know for certain Pap was real for without him there’d have been no stories to tell.

After Pap died I was so afraid of dreaming of him that I kept myself from doing so until I began to worry I’d never dream of him. Of course I finally did and it was real and comforting. Since then I’ve dreamed about Pap several times but its all of the silly variety. One night I dreamed we were down in Hanging Dog on the lake when the water was down and Pap was driving The Deer Hunter’s big brown Chevy truck he had when we were first married. Pap was a determined man in that dream-he was trying his best to drive that truck straight up a red clay bank with me holding on for dear life and begging him to stop. As he shifted into second gear for another go at the bank he told me to hush and before I knew it he had Nadine (that was the truck’s name) out of the lake bed and back up on level ground.

The girls dream about him often. I can usually tell because they’ll be teary-eyed of the morning. Chitter told me about one of her Pap dreams the other day. While she was in tears about it I actually found it funny. She dreamed she was talking to Pap down at his house, but she knew he was dead and hated to have to tell him he was a ghost. She said “I just kept staring at him and he asked me why I was staring at him and I just couldn’t tell him he was a ghost.”

If you’ve not had enough of my memories of Pap’s passing come back by tomorrow and I’ll share the rest with you. If that sort of thing isn’t your cup of tea I totally understand, but I feel like I need to tell Pap’s death story for those who’ve told me they want to hear it.


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  • Reply
    April 29, 2017 at 1:36 am

    My Dad passed away over 30 years ago. He is missed every day. I still can’t help weeping whenever I hear “On Top of Old Smokey” and the line “angels in heaven know I love you”. Dad used to sing that a lot. The biggest compliment people who knew my Dad can give me is to say that I act like him.
    Like Miss Cindy said, breathing becomes easier after the first year, though your heart will always ache missing your loved one.

  • Reply
    josé Luis
    April 19, 2017 at 12:01 am

    My dear friend Tipper:
    I have carefully read all the comments on his initial editorial about his father’s death. I feel a great affection for all of you, and perhaps for the closeness in time I felt for Pap, a feeling of union for music, how to form a family, because like Pap, I never wear tennis shoes, just shoes. Polished, And it really seems like a lie that a year has passed since his last trip. Always remember with the same love that you gave to all of you, continue to make music that will surely be of your absolute pleasure, and from the most southern country of our common home, America, I will pray the prayer Our Father, so that His rest will be eternal And will be at the side of our Lord, so be it. From Buenos Aires, Argentina, a great affection for you and the whole family, José Luis.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    I frequently take my Dad for drives as I did when Mom was alive and whenever his twin brother and wife would visit. Saturday, after next to youngest GD experienced her first Easter Egg hunt, oldest GD wanted to drive around and take pictures. Their Daddy drove and as we meandered about we passed by a favorite of the “olders”, a yard full of thing-a-ma-doodles, whirlygigs, and whimsies, and one large bottle tree filled with cobalt blue bottles. My aunt always wanted to ‘drive slow’ so she could see how the sunlight played in and through those bottles as we viewed it from the passing angles. I noticed that the bottle tree had been enlarged and told my son to slow down even more so I could take a picture thinking I would send it to my aunt – – then the tears fells knowing she would not receive it.

  • Reply
    Debbie Nobles
    April 18, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Lost my Daddy 21 years ago today. I miss him every day.He was only 68 but had heart problems too. I still tell him good night every night.Your dad will always be with you.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Anderson
    April 18, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Tipper, I have been where you are and having others to share your feelings and thoughts is very comforting, I will be here to read your memories. It does hurt at first to remember, but after the first year and time passes i realized it hurt more not to think of them than it did to remember. Hope that makes sense. You are so blessed to have all the videos and music to remember him and maybe after a while those will help ease the pain. Thinking of you on the anniversary, Cheryl

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    April 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Dreams are such a comfort. I always like a visit from Mama or Daddy.
    I hope tomorrow is not too hard on you.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Tipper- I think , if we are human and have a heart at all, we have all been in the same situation. My oldest brother suddenly took ill two years ago and died in three weeks time. We live next door and I look out and still expect to see him in the yard. MY mom , DAD, AND MY BROTHER ARE ALL IN HEAVEN NOW AND i DREAM OF THEM OFTEN.(mY PRINT CHANGED!!!0 i FIND , LIKE YOU, IT IS VERY COMFORTING BUT SAD TO WAKE UP AND FIND IT IS ONLY A DREAM. i THINK , IN A WAY, THAT MUST MEAN WE LOVED THEM A VERY LOT WHILE THEY WERE ON EARTH WITH US. pAP WASN’T MY BLOOD pAP BUT i MISS HIM TOO. aLTHOUGH WE ARE BLESSED TO BE ABLE TO STILL HEAR HIM AND SEE HIM THROUGH THE MUSIC VIDEOS.

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    April 18, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    I liked reading about your Dad and the girls…After my Dad passed it seemed as if I would almost see him walking a couple of blocks ahead. Dreams are so interesting.

  • Reply
    Mel H.
    April 18, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    ….they say time will heal….but sometimes it sure takes its time to do it….

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes Moreno
    April 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Tipper, while missing them never goes away, time allows us to find more comfort than sadness! Because Jesus said I am with you always, I know we are both with Him only in different ways! I feel comfort in that and hope you do to.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 18, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    sharing is healing and it’s wonderful you have so much to share. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this remembering time. Hug one another, laugh together, sing a song. Pap will be right there with you – just out of reach – but there nonetheless.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you for writing about Pap. And if it helps (and it does), please write more. I remember when I was at Young Harris at one of your gigs, after it was over Pap would always talk to me. I don’t think he ever met a stranger, but as you said several years ago in one of your blogs, I’d hear him say “Go Home with Me.” I’ll never forget those words…
    My dad went to be with the Lord 35 years ago and Mama for 31, and I still Miss them. They both died at 72.

  • Reply
    sandy küng
    April 18, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Thank you for your words. I understand. For the longest time after my dear daddy died I couldn’t do anything but cry. I still can’t think of him without tears falling.
    I know my daddy is at peace, joyous peace, in heaven. Surrounded by loved ones gone before and greeting loved ones gone since. And to be with God – in the presence of God! Well – I just can’t imagine how glorious that would be.
    None of that eases the ache and just the missing him. But we thank God for our blessings and carry on. Prayers for your peace and joy!

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    April 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Yes Tipper, I want to hear it.
    May the good Lord bless you with many pleasant memories.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    April 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Yes Tipper, I want to hear it.
    May the good Lord bless you with many pleasant memories.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    April 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Yes Tipper, I want to hear it.
    May the good Lord bless you with many pleasant memories.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    April 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Yes Tipper, I want to hear it.
    May the good Lord bless you with many pleasant memories.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 18, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I hope the story of Pap’s death is written as a prologue. Pap’s story has just begun. The good in his life is now perfection and the bad has all been wiped clean. People have spoken of Pap as a good man. A very good man. He is not a good man anymore! He is perfect!

  • Reply
    David Allen Kaynor
    April 18, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Tipper: Your friends’ thoughtful and loving responses to your writing continue to affirm how much you and your family give us and mean to us.
    It would appear that grief is life-long and the only way to escape it is to either stop having feelings or stop living altogether. Having tried the former and given serious thought to the latter, I’m in favor of something else altogether: Sharing.
    For me, turning to friends hasn’t made grief go away, but the process of sharing has led to help, comfort, deeper friendships, and fuller, more meaningful living for everyone involved. I think this is happening with your writing, and we’re all better off for it.
    Similarly, for me, going deeper into music hasn’t made grief go away, but the process of creating has led to more sharing and more good outcomes. I think this is happening with your family’s music, and, again, we’re all better off for it.
    And there’s more music to be created! Let’s all get to it!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    April 18, 2017 at 10:29 am

    It’s hard to believe that your Pap has has been gone for a year. Grief is a strange thing with many different stages. Having lost both parents very suddenly the shock factor was almost unbearable.
    I felt different things at different times for a good year after dad passed and at one point I was just plain angry because there were things I needed to tell him or needed advice on mostly though I just needed him. It has become much easier over the years but I still miss them both and I always will. I hope it gets easier for you and your family as time passes as well. There are so many good memories to carry us after we get past the grieving.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 10:15 am

    God bless you and comfort you, Tipper. Thank you for letting us know and love your sweet Pap. Such a gift you both have given us.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 9:50 am

    According to the counselors in my family, sharing stories and taking about our loved ones who are no longer with us is a very healthy part of healing.
    You introduced your readers to Pap and we fell in love with him. Please continue to share your memories with us. We miss him too.

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    April 18, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. In fact, the picture of your father, looks just like my daddy. My daddy passed 12 years ago. My mother had had a stroke and was in the nursing home and daddy was dying so I was taking care of him and checking on mother at the nursing home every day. Only God got me through it and I miss them both. If you have great parents it is really hard when they pass. I was always a daddy’s girl until I got married and had our first child. lol Then my Mother was the best in everything. I still miss them very much but the promise is I get to see them again some day.

  • Reply
    Paulette Tonielli
    April 18, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Telling and hearing those stories keeps memories alive. I think it’s good for everyone, and honors the people we’ve lost. I’m glad you’ve reached the point when you can tell Pap’s story. I’ll be looking for that story tomorrow…

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 8:51 am

    My Dad died just before Easter 46 years ago and I still have the occasional dream with him in it. The passing of loved ones is not a thing we ‘get over’, but we can get through it.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 8:40 am

    While I only got to meet Pap once for a brief time, I am forever thankful I got to shake his hand and tell him how much he was appreciated. What a fine person who raised up a fine family who in turn is raising up a fine family and so it will continue.
    While this begins my day with tears, I am thankful for the memories, thank you Tipper.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Bless your dear heart! Oh, I SO understand all you are experiencing. I cannot even begin to believe it, but my dear Daddy has been gone nearly 17 years now. I tell you, in some ways, it feels like it was last week. In other ways, I fear that I am beginning to forget him just a bit. I don’t want to forget. Yet, some days, the memories are near unbearable. So, I do understand, my friend. I miss Pap, too. Though the music is and always will be amazing, he is so sorely missed. God bless you and hold you close in every moment of overwhelming grief…I know how it is to relive those days.

  • Reply
    Steve in tn
    April 18, 2017 at 8:34 am

    There are days when our lives are changed forever, never to be the same again. I think of that every time I go by a hospital or hear an ambulance, or read the obits. We are left with the memories.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    April 18, 2017 at 8:28 am

    It may sound silly, but I miss him too. The videos help some and hurt some. My thoughts are with you and all who knew and loved him.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 8:19 am

    You tell those stories all you want to, Tipper. Mr Jerry was a great man and it doesn’t hurt at all to celebrate his life. I still see my Dad walking through the door of the shop telling me what needs to be done each and every morning I’m on the farm. We all have our ways of coping, just have to remember it’s all God’s plan. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family tomorrow and every other day.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    April 18, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I’ll be here. My Mom passed 12 years ago (so hard to believe). My Dad says after she passed she would visit the kitchen rattling pots and pans. My grandson spent the night with his Papaw and heard it too, scared the begeebers out of him! He and Papaw absolutely say she was in the kitchen!

  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    April 18, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Tipper, my Daddy died very suddenly when he was only 62 years old – younger than I am now. It’s hard for me to fathom that and it’s been nearly 27 years. It’s still fresh and painful. Jim and I were still in Georgia in those days. Daddy was in Florida. Thing was, he’d never been sick. He’d had no warnings. He’d even had a full physical only a short time before with no signs of trouble. He had given up cigarettes many years before (but did smoke a pipe occasionally) and was in the best physical shape of any of us (we thought). He was never much overweight and if he DID gain a few pounds, he’d cut back on meals and in a couple of days it would be gone. I always told him that it just wasn’t fair that he didn’t have to worry about his weight. He’d throw back his head, his eyes would crinkle to slits, and he’d just laugh and laugh. I guess it wasn’t his weight that he needed to be concerned about. So on one July Tuesday, he retired. The next day, he played golf (his passion). Then on Thursday, he went out to mow the lawn (the yard wasn’t big). He made one pass around the perimeter and must have felt ill. He just up and died. My poor Jim had to tell me the news when I got home from work. My knees buckled and from that point until well after the funeral, I was on autopilot. I am the oldest child, so I had to take the lead on all the planning. Daddy’s second wife was in complete shock, so was not able to help much. I dream about Daddy occasionally. I always talk about the time in between as, “the time you were dead.” He always apologizes in the dream for not being there “then.” Not sure what a psychologist would say about that, but I know how comforting being with my Daddy if only during dreams can be.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 18, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Grief really is odd in so many ways. The absence makes us see the absent ones more from all sides because while they are with us we can take much for granted. Afterwards we start the “I wish I had” and the “I don’t know why I didn’t” thoughts. We have always known them in terms of their relationship with us and ours but then we have a growing realization of them as individuals independent of us, or at least that happened to me.
    The degree to which someone is missed is, I think, a fair measure of their character. I want to be missed but I don’t want anyone to miss me enough to hurt them, that is, in an unhealthy way.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette-Dean
    April 18, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Good morning Tipper,
    Sharing the death story of loved ones who have passed is another way of keeping them alive. I know that sounds a bit strange, but I think you probably know exactly what I mean. My mom passed 37 years ago and every year, I always tell her story. It is another way of remembering and honoring those who have passed. Many hugs to you!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 18, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Count on it, I’ll be here. I know this has been devastating for you to walk through. Time really does heal most of the pain but the memories remain. Pap was such a fine man and I see him every day in you and the girls, Steve and Paul!
    I find that when we loose someone we love breathing becomes a little easier after that first year.

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