Haines, My Way: Losing a great man
On Aug. 17, Col. Val Gene Mathews passed away.
All the skeptics out there are probably rolling their eyes, thinking “another obituary.” But let me tell you something: People like my grandfather are few and far between.
He was a strong, fighting, good-hearted man; someone everyone could look up to. As a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force, he had prestige and honor among our country’s fighters. As a family man of an incredible wife, two awesome kids, seven loving grandchildren and two wonderful great-grandchildren, he was our admiration. As a faithful follower of God, I’m sure he’s already on his ranch in heaven right now.
He was proud of his family and all of its qualities of love, hard work and dedication. We all learned it from him. When I think of my grandfather, I think of a man who lived his life to the fullest. He always tried to make the right decisions and encouraged us all to do the same.
Losing someone close to you is always hard, and I’m sure everyone understands the hurt the family feels. It’s not something new by any means, but it’s something everyone deals with in their own way. You just take what you can from the person’s life, try to preserve it, work to instill it and keep moving forward.
I know all of us grandkids wanted him to be proud of his family, but I think we wanted it so bad because we were so proud of him and his accomplishments. He was someone you wanted to please and impress. I can’t make it any plainer than that.
Now, it’s a time to be strong. Losing him is a sad happening, we’ll all mourn, but after that, we need to move on. We’ll all mourn our own way for a long time, I’m sure, and we’ll be there for each other because that’s what a family does. We’ll tell his life stories proudly at family get-togethers and remember him, that’s the way he would have wanted it.
Now, every time I pass a coffee shop, a tractor, a big Ford truck, anything Air Force, cigars, the First Baptist Church, cattle, open fields of hay, I’ll think of him. In case you missed that, I’ll think of him often and everything he stood for.
He had such faith, much like everything about him, it was stronger and tougher than nails. It’s comforting to know that when someone leaves us. It kinda gives you the feeling of hope that we’ll be able to see him again someday.
But until then, we’ll never forget you, Grandpa. Thanks for everything you did for all of us. We’ll miss you.