We want to thank each of you for coming today and joining us in celebrating the most incredible man I ever knew. Larry Jordan was husband, Daddy, Papaw, Great-Papaw, brother, friend, and so much more. These are just words that identified him, but they could never contain all that he truly was. Each of you knew him in just a little different way, but he was always authentic, genuine, and real. He was the same person to the stranger down the street as he was to those closest to him. He exuded love from his soul. His heart held no boundaries.
As I sat down to write this, all I could think is, I do not know how to be in this world without my Daddy. He was the best man, strongest, most intelligent, and loving man I have ever known. He wants me to be strong and love as he has loved and continue to be who he has always known I am! Daddy, I will try my best for you, because of you!
In the 60’s, he was just a young man trying to find his way in a sometimes-unforgiving world, until he met Mama. At the Asheville Speedway, that one cool summer night, unbeknownst to either of them, Larry and Donna began to lay the foundation for a love-filled life. Young but determined, these two kids got married and began to grow in ways they never imagined. You see, neither had an easy childhood. But on August 24, 1966, not only did they take faithful vows in marriage, but they decided to overcome all their childhood challenges and raise a family that embodied love, dedication and unconditional bonds and support. Breaking all the rules and creating new ones, they grabbed each other’s hand and marched into the world knowing they had each other regardless of the storms that may come.
My Daddy loved my Mama. And Daddy is and always will be the LOVE OF MAMA’S LIFE! I cannot even begin to tell you how much they love each other. I have seen him nearly crumble to his knees as she has been taken back for surgery. I have seen him look at her like she is a goddess… and she is! During our Wednesday chats, he would share with me all the reasons he worried about her and wanted to make sure I reminded her to take care of herself. During childhood, I remember watching them kiss before he left for work or more recently before she left to go to the grocery store and run errands. And no simple peck, but a loving, gentle kiss… I have always admired their simple, yet passionate gestures that told a love story without words.
During the years, before he hurt his back, he worked two or three jobs, tirelessly, for us. But he always made time for us, too! We took countless hikes, fishing trips, camping adventures and long walks. He knew everything about everything. He taught us to bait a hook, scale a fish, build a campfire, recognize the stars, appreciate nature, change the oil, work on engines, water sand a car, build a rock wall, paint, and grow ANYTHING! These are just a few of the gifts and skills he shared with us.
But mostly, he taught us how to love. And I am not talking about a Valentine’s Day kinda of love. I am talking about all in, full out, open-hearted, warm, big hugs and tears kinda LOVE! He had the biggest heart. And the babies, how much he loved the babies. He would hold them in his arms facing him and talk to them with tears rolling down his face. We call this the “Papaw Hold.” You think you love your Daddy, then you see him holding your baby like this and your heart actually explodes!
Every neighborhood and school friend was welcome at our house. He would always say, “You are welcome to anything in the kitchen, just don’t waste it.” My friends today, even the ones that never had a chance to meet him, loved him. I guess I talk about my Daddy a lot!
I have been called “Little Larry” more than a few times. Today, I stand before you and wear that title with pride and honor!
I know he was proud of each of us. Sometimes he would whisper to me and compliment the kids. Sometimes, he would glow with pride and shed tears, like at graduations and weddings, displaying all his deep heart-felt emotions right there on his cheeks. He took his role as Daddy and Papaw very seriously! He had a unique bond and special love for each of his grandkids, which allowed them to blossom in their own beautiful and unique ways.
Just some of the words from his grandkids, as they describe him:
patient, encouraging, direct, wise, stubborn, loving, accepting, knowledgeable, supportive, strong, classic, and caring. I would add joyful, grateful, authentic, and faithful. Again, these are words that describe him, but never define him.
And there were and are always Oreos for the grandkids. We never had Oreos growing up! HMMM. Courtney recalls his most profound skills at making Eggo waffles after spending Saturday nights with them. Just one of countless Precious Memories. With words of encouragement, life experiences and guidance, he led us all as a life coach and mentor, long before such things were paid professions! He always made sure that each of us knew how very proud of us he was. And you could see it in his eyes.
Some of his signature phrases were:
“Got a Quarter?”
“Take it easy”
“Hey, varmint!” talking to the kids or the pets…
“In a minute…” which I think Mama has now picked up!
“Time and God will take care of everything.”
“Love ya, Gal!”
“Don’t worry, Gal!”
“Stay out of Trouble!”
“Take Care of Your Mama!”
If you stuck your tongue out, he threatened to put hot sauce on your tongue…
He told little anecdotes, to help you stay positive, maybe threaded with a little sarcasm. My favorite is: If you have two pieces of bread, jam them together and you have a jam sandwich!
As a child, he was mischievous, adventurous, and bold. The baby of 9, he had to hold his own from birth. He loved to share his misadventures, daring feats, wisdom, and lessons with each of us, especially Colby, Zachary and Noah, and sometimes crazy stories of how he learned said lessons… but those stories are for another time.
My Daddy was incredibly intelligent. Even though he left formal education in the 9th grade, he was always learning, figuring things out, thinking, teaching, and sharing. He could take a piece of metal and make you a lawn mower, a piece of plywood and build you a cabinet, a seed and create you a garden. From a piece of paper would emerge a deck or building of some sort. He could just see it and then put his hands to it and create a masterpiece! I have always been in awe of his abilities, talents, and intelligence.
Over the last 7 months, I was blessed to be able to sit with him on Wednesdays while Mama went to the grocery store and ran errands. They both worried too much about disrupting my life. But I would not trade one second of this time I have had with him. We would sit at the kitchen table, eating donuts and solving all the world’s problems, if just anyone would listen to us! So many of those Wednesdays, I reluctantly left because I just wanted to know everything he knew. We would talk about gardening, and I would video my garden so I could show him how it was doing. I do believe he enjoyed that even though he would have rather had his hands in the dirt than holding my phone. We talked extensively about faith, spirituality, and the Bible. He would always tell me, just remember, God did that! From each grain of sand on the beach to the planets that keep us in orbit and awe, God did that. We talked about how beautiful, how simple, and joyful those streets of gold will be. His faith and beliefs were grounded and strong and I have no doubt that Jesus took him in His Arms and wrapped him with the biggest hug, welcoming him home. I can only imagine how glorious the sunset and views of the stars are up there, Daddy!
Daddy, I will look for you in everything, everyday! I will search for you in the stars, in the butterflies and the hummingbirds for messages you will rain down on me! I will talk to you and continue to seek your advice and guidance. You will live in my heart and soul forever! And do not worry. We will take care of Mama and make her let us! We will hold her just a little longer with hugs from you! We will keep her adventurous, singing, laughing, and loving, until you meet again! We will continue your legacy of love with each great-grandbaby and each new in-law that is swooped into the arms of this incredible Jordan family. We will never go a day without you in our hearts, on our minds and forever engrained into our souls. Fly high my sweet Daddy! You deserve those wings and halo!