Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Sweet Daddy Bob

This past year and a half with my sweet grandpa has been rough. "Daddy Bob" (my Mama's Daddy) had a heart attack around Thanksgiving of 2012. He's been in and out of the hospital and rehab facilities since then. While we were so glad to have all of these extra months with him, we knew he was tired. He finally was called to Heaven on April 6, 2014. To say we are crushed is an understatement.

My Daddy Bob was such an incredible man. To try to put in my words how amazing he was is just impossible. He loved Jesus and he loved his family and friends. We never had to wonder. We always knew he loved us no matter what. I had the honor of helping write his obituary, and it explains just how great he was:

Robert “Bobby” Harold Holmes, 85, of Biloxi, went home to be with his Savior on Sunday, April 6, 2014. He was a Godly man with an infectious laugh and an extraordinary personality that touched every person he met. “Coach Holmes,” as he was affectionately known, was a faithful member of Bay Vista Baptist Church in Biloxi where he was elected Deacon Emeritus in 2013. His love for the Lord and his unceasing gift of ministry was evident in every aspect of his life.

Mr. Holmes was born in Tallassee, Alabama, to DeWitt Benjamin and Mary Katherine Ransom Holmes. He graduated from Tallassee High School in 1947, known for his role in the Tigers legendary 55 game winning streak. He went on to play football at Perkinston Junior College, helping lead the Bulldogs to the 1948 National Junior College Championship and earning Little All-American honors. He completed his college career at Mississippi Southern College, now The University of Southern Mississippi, where he set numerous records as quarterback for the Southerners. His record two punt returns of 87 and 95 yards for touchdowns against Alabama in the same game still stands. While at Perk, he met the love of his life, Bobbie Nell Germany. They married on September 9, 1950. In 1951, he earned his BS degree in Physical Education. Following college, he served his country in the U.S. Army. He later went on to earn his MEd in Administration and his MS AAA certificate from USM. With the birth of his two children, Nollene and Hal, “Daddy” became his favorite name and his children became his pride and joy. He and his family made their home in Moss Point after working in various Mississippi school districts. He had an amazing 36 year career as teacher, coach, and administrator, touching countless lives along the way.
During his career, he received numerous honors and awards. He was elected to The University of Southern Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1966, the MAC Coaches Hall of Fame in 1985, and the MGCCC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999. Coach Holmes received both the Distinguished American Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame, the MS Broadcasters Association All-State Award, the South Coach of the Year in 1966. He received the Moss Point High School Growler Dedication in 1978 and was named to the USM Century Team in 2000. If you knew Coach Holmes, you knew he could tell many a story about any aspect of his lengthy career. It could be anything from specific plays he ran as a player at Perk to the hilarious antics of Southern Miss athletes to any strategy, play, or score from games throughout his career. Friends often called on him to “dig deep in the steel trap” for answers to most any sports-related questions. These many stories will be treasured by his family and friends in the years to come.
The retirement years began in 1989 when he and Bobbie Nell moved to Biloxi where they began to focus their time enjoying their “grand” children. He was a wonderful “Daddy Bob,” as he and “Mimi” loved going from golf tournaments and baseball games to dance and piano recitals. He also enjoyed the occasional, super-competitive game of dominoes or Catch Phrase with his kids and grands, as well as asking them to “google up” things that he was wondering. His unwavering love and support made him a truly incredible Daddy Bob!
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 54 years, Bobbie Nell; his mother, Mary Katherine Ransom Holmes; his father, DeWitt Benjamin Holmes.
He is survived by his two loving children, daughter Ava Nollene Holmes Wieniewitz and her husband Henry John “Spud” of Biloxi, and son, his namesake, Robert Harold “Hal” Holmes, Jr., and his wife Cynthia Dawn “Cindy” of Vancleave; five “perfect” grandchildren, grandsons Henry John “Trae” Wieniewitz, III, and his wife Amber Lea of Knoxville, TN, another namesake, Robert Harold “Robby” Holmes, III, and his wife Maria Angela, of Astoria, NY, Andrew Joseph “Drew” Holmes of Hattiesburg, and Jonathan Stuart Holmes of Vancleave, and a granddaughter, his “sweetie,” Tara Johnell Wieniewitz Jackson and her husband, Eric William, of Spring Hill, TN.
“Daddy Bob” is also survived by five precious great-grandchildren, great-granddaughters Abbie Nell and Lexi Rae Wieniewitz of Knoxville, TN, and Adelyn “Addie” Noelle and Ava Rae Jackson of Spring Hill, TN, and great-grandson, Christian John Wieniewitz of Knoxville, TN.
He will also be missed by his dear sister, JoAnn Holmes Ledbetter and her husband, William, of Tallassee, AL. 

I like to imagine that he is doing a lot of this in Heaven... 

...and a lot of this. Knowing he is with my Mimi again is the most comforting feeling in the midst of such grief. 

Their relationship was one of a kind. Not many marriages are like theirs was... this picture shows the kind of joy they still had with each other after 50+ years of marriage. This was taken the summer before my Mimi went to be with Jesus. It's always been one of my favorite pictures. :) I can only pray that Eric and I have this kind of joy in our life together. We certainly have a fantastic example to follow.

I have so many beautiful memories with this man and I am SO thankful that he was able to meet my husband and my girls... and that Eric and Addie will always remember him. Although Ava won't remember him, we do have some great pictures of her with Daddy Bob... and I'll always treasure those and I look forward to telling her how wonderful her Daddy Bob was and how much he loved her.

This was taken this past Christmas. He was feeling great on this day and I am so glad we took time to take this picture. :)

Like I said earlier, I think he is playing lots of golf in Heaven. Eric loved to play golf with him and listen to all of his stories (sometimes the same ones over and over :). Daddy Bob loved "Big E."

My sweet Mama and Daddy certainly miss him. Their lives revolved around him for the past few years as they took care of him and made every effort to bring him to see my brother's family and my family. So glad they did this... not only for Daddy Bob but for us. It was very difficult at times, but my parents know it is what he truly wanted and definitely what my Mimi would have wanted.

Through all of this I have learned some important life lessons:
1. Jesus really does take care of you.
I cannot fathom going through losing a loved one without the comfort of knowing that my loved one is with the Savior. Jesus truly put His arms around our family through this whole process of planning a funeral and burying a man we loved so dearly. I think it was "easier" because we knew that body wasn't really Daddy Bob. It was just a "shell" he used during his time here on Earth.

2. I have the best friends on the planet.
Without even giving it a second thought, my "Yayas" brought traveling goodies for my girls the day my grandpa died. They knew we had a long drive and wanted to help however they could. They went out on a cold, rainy Sunday and got the girls happies and snacks... and even gave us gas and food gift cards. Once in MS, they even sent a plant to my family to express their condolences. 
My friends in MS were amazing, too. Some took time to stop by the visitation and Azlyn and her family even came and took Addie home with them during the funeral and burial. This was such a blessing to us... and Addie loved spending time with them!

3. Take pictures.
In the days before the visitation and funeral, I worked diligently on a tribute video for my Daddy Bob. I did the same when my Mimi died and it was very therapeutic for me. My mom and I looked at countless pictures from my Daddy Bob's life and I put them to music for the visitation and made a separate one to show during the funeral. This made me so grateful for all of those times my Mimi and Mama wanted us to take pictures all of the time... at dinners, at holiday gatherings, on vacations... you name it, we had pictures to show any phase of his life. Not only is this going to be amazing to have to show and explain to our children, but it was very helpful to relive so many great memories during the days following his death. So, my greatest advice is to take pictures... then take more pictures. Don't worry about how you look, how much you weigh, what outfit you're wearing, or how much make up you don't have on... it doesn't matter. One day your pictures will be simply priceless.

With all of this said, I miss my Daddy Bob like crazy. I catch myself wanting to call him all of the time... but I know he is having a great time with my Mimi and his family and friends in Heaven. So thankful for the 33 years I had with him.

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