Gerald and Jo Tarvin accepted me into their family from the moment their granddaughter, Malarie, and I became a couple. Papa and Gigi, as we know them, love me and I love them.

Papa and Gigi celebrated their 58th anniversary earlier this year. I think Papa was 17 and Gigi was 14 when they tied the knot to stay together until death separated them.

That separation came just after midnight Friday morning, as Papa drew his last breath while surrounded by Gigi, his three beautiful daughters and his grandchildren.

Papa wasn’t a large man in stature, but he was larger than life to his family, especially his grandchildren.

He worked two jobs early in his marriage to provide for his family. Papa had an amazing work ethic, and he continued working hard until his health began to fail.

My mother-in-law, Ginger Haven, said her daddy didn’t have a lot of formal education, but he was one of the smartest men she’s ever known.

I don’t think there’s anything Papa couldn’t do. He was a carpenter, a farmer, a hunter, a fisherman and a wonderful storyteller. I loved listening to his stories — sometimes I laughed and sometimes I learned.

He also enjoyed going to the flea market and selling chickens, goats and vegetables.

One of my memorable stories about Papa happened a few years ago during a cookout at the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Barbie and Glenn Cottles.

Some of the ladies were cleaning up, and Gigi grabbed Papa’s plate before he was finished. Poor Gigi ... that was the wrong move.

“I don’t know what to think about a woman who will take a man’s plate,” Papa said. Needless to say, Gigi got him another plate.

Papa had tears in his eyes on mine and Malarie’s wedding day, because he was so happy for us. I’ll never forget that.

I’m thankful my sons, James David and Brady, got to know Papa and spend time with him. Maybe they will grow up and be able to work with their hands as well as he did.

Please remember the Tarvin family in your prayers. Papa’s loss leaves a void no man can fill. We’ll all need mercy, grace and strength from the Lord to go on, especially Gigi.

Shannon J. Allen is sports editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at shannon.allen@sandmountainreporter.com.

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