Monday, March 21, 2011

Heart of a Champion

KLove is having a contest in which you tell them about someone who has overcome incredible odds.  I was in my car thinking about people I know who fit that bill.  Who could I write about?  I know several people who do.  My dad.  My mom.  Several other people.  So who will I write about?  My Papa.  James Edward Holcomb.

On October 18, 1929 a baby boy was born to Bryan and Estell Holcomb.  A baby boy with a serious bleeding disorder...hemophilia.  They named him James Edward.  I have no idea what my Papa looked like when he was a baby.  I don't think I remember ever seeing a picture of him.  I imagine he looked a lot like my Oliver when Oliver was a baby.  I do know that he wasn't expected to live past the age of 20.  I know that when he was 10 years old, he had an internal bleed that caused his leg joints to fuse.  He was crippled from that point on.  I know he lived past the age of 20.  My mom was born when he was 29 years old.

My Papa went through hell most of his life because of pain.  I remember horrible hospitalizations.  I remember one time he was mugged and nearly died.  Much of my life I was prepared for his death.  So much so that his actual death took me by surprise.  Even through all that pain, he smiled all the time.  Every single picture we have of him, he was smiling.

I know he loved his family.  He loved my mother enough that when his wife abandoned them, he moved in with HIS mother so my mom would be properly taken care of.  I know he worked hard through great pain to provide for my mom.  He loved her so much that he asked my dad to marry my mom when she was 15 years old so he'd know she'd be taken care of if he died in the surgery he was supposed to have (good thing my dad was gonna ask to marry my mom anyway, huh?).  He took care of all of us and loved us with such a love no one can imagine.

My Papa was the first person to tell me I was pregnant.  He knew before I took a test.  He told me.  he told my mom.  He told my Nanny (his mom).  LOL...he told everyone but we all told him he was wrong.  Guess the joke was on us.  ;o)  The Christmas I was pregnant with that first baby, Papa's doctor told my mom he wouldn't make it out of the hospital.  She told my Papa to which he replied, "We'll have to talk to the Good Lord about that.  I want to live to see my grandson."  Uh, grandson?  What if it's a girl?  Oh well.  I guess God knew my Papa wanted a grandson because HE gave us James Oliver Edward.  Oliver was born in June.  We took my tiny newborn to see his Papa for the first time 6 months after Papa was supposed to die.  Papa was so very proud of that baby.  His eyes shone brightly through the pain every time he saw little Ollie.

James Edward Holcomb passed away almost a month after meeting his grandson for the first time.  For the first time in his life he was pain free.  He has been in the presence of his Savior for almost 10 years.  I miss him as much today as I did when we lost him.  I could go on for pages and pages about him.  I have so many great memories of Papa.

He had the heart of a champion.


  1. That is so very true...he did have a heart of a champion...I do have baby pictures:) I miss him so much and so often just would like to talk with him...there are times I just ask God to please tell my daddy and my momma that I love them...I know he is pain free...and I know there was a peace when he died. He died at home...just the place that he wanted to well as my momma. They loved you my sweet daughter...and they loved your sister! They also loved your children!

  2. Oh my goodness, what a sweet post. What an amazing man he was. Thanks for sharing his story.

  3. You know, I never truly understood about your Papa's illness but I'll always remember how joyful he always was in the midst of his adversity. Your post is a beautiful tribute to a man with such a courageous heart of a champion. It isn't hard to see he got that trait from your Nanny either, who also had a champion's heart, nor to see how his legacy lives on :)

  4. Wow, that brought tears to my eyes. What a great thing that he got to meet his namesake before he went to be with God.

  5. Thank you for all the sweet comments. I entered a much shorter version in KLove's contest. Mom, I thought if I win the grand prize, you and I could take the trip to NY together. It's two round trip tickets.