You’ve Always Been My Boy and I’ll Always Be Your Papa

Here are John’s remarks from Mattie’s Celebration Service. Well, at least most of them…. some of his spontaneity may be missing!


I want to share with you some memories I have of Mattie, first from the hospital and then from our home.

Memories from the Hospital:

The boy could sure hold his liqueur! (Many times in the hospital Mattie had to be sedated in order to keep him from pulling out the many tubes and lines that were in him when he was critically ill. ) Just when we thought we had given him enough to keep him still for days it was as if he would look up at us and say “ That was nothin! What else you got?”

Mattie stopped traffic in the hallways at the hospital. When he was feeling well he would play on a mat on the floor with his toys and flirt with people (mostly pretty nurses) as they went by. He got more drive by love then any kid I know.

I’ll always remember the many doctors rounds when everyone was trying to figure out what his deal was on many occasions we would all look at each other, shrug our shoulders and just say “Hey, it’s Mystery Mattie”.

Memories from Home:

These are some things I will miss about you son.

I will miss your amazing smile that brought healing, hope and peace to all of us in this room and so many more that could not be here.

I will miss the 1000 silly faces you could make in just a few seconds.

I will miss your stinky trach neck in the morning.

I will miss chewing on your neck and making you laugh so hard.

I will miss having you grab both my hands, putting them together & wanting me to make them clap really fast and loud until you were literally cross-eyed.

I will miss the way you laughed at loud noises. Like laundry being snapped while being folded , plastic bags ruffling, doors slamming. Your brother and sisters running wildly through the living room.

I will miss all your little squeaks and noises you would make and the way you would smile when I made them back to you.

I will miss the way you would look one direction and then reach up quickly with one hand and pull the skin under my chin.

I miss the way you would attack my face when I would lay my head on your lap.

I will miss your handsome singing voice, and OH how beautiful it was.

I will miss the way you would uncontrollably laugh for no apparent reason. You would see something and it would just crack you right up. I’m convinced you saw angels (maybe your Uncle Derek) as you were close to that realm so many times in your life.

I will miss seeing you non-nonchalantly sitting with your chin bouncing on your crib rail and your legs hanging through the side rails.

I will miss flicking your lips, and you looking up at me when I stop flicking your lips as if to say “ Dude, you got one job here, let’s focus.”

I will even miss the way you hated to poop – We were working on that, I had lots of talks with you and tried to convince you that someday you might even like it as it might be the only time you can lock yourself in a room to get peace from this crazy bunch of people. It was just downright sneaky how you got out of that my son.

I will miss you crawling out the bedroom door to the top of the stairs to see what excitement was going on downstairs.

And Oh how I will miss hearing multiple times a day someone yelling from your room “ Oh my God, you are soooo cute”!


Tracie : I SO want to honor you today . Matties story was heard around the world because of you. No one fought as hard for Mattie as you did. I’m SO proud of you, you’re my hero. You dove head first into learning everything you could learn about Matties medical condition. If a trach change was an Olympic event, I would put you up against the top PICU nurses in the country.

The statistics may be against us right now, they have been against us quite a few times in the past as well. We have been through some REALY hard stuff in our marriage, this definitively being the hardest. In the past, we decided to keep choosing each other and today I choose you again. I love you so much.

Nick: My deep thinker. I loved the way you & Mattie would play and tease one another. I loved hearing him make you laugh. I saw you morph between big brother and a father figure. Your gonna make a great father someday son. Nick,you will wrestle with questions over your brothers passing that you may never get answers for in this life but know this I will wrestle with you.

Amy: My daughter and friend. The way you interceded for Mattie last year when he was so sick touched me deeply. You sang and prayed over him. Your tenderness and motherly instincts have grown over the years you were with Mattie. If it was possible for me to love you even more, I did because of the way you were with him.

Taylor: My tender strong Tay. You had a special love with Mattie. Mom came down the stairs just a couple of weeks ago and said what a special and unique love you had with him. We all saw it and it was so precious. Plus he got you out of the basement more! I love you Tay my Tay. Your Dad sees and cares about your broken heart. I’am with you son.

Isabelle: My beautiful Belle. You were the only person who’s name Mattie could really say “Belle, Belle”. Of course he could sign your name as well but most of the time his hand placement during the sign was a little off so he ended up signing the other “b word”.  Yours was a beautiful, musical romance. He was your peace, He was your silly release. This Papa has your back baby girl.

Elia Jane: My LILI Lou. You were Matties “ little momma”. You took such good care of him. He felt SO loved by you. Thank you for loving Mattie so well.

Emma: You were such a good big sister to Mattie, always concerned for how he was doing and if he had everything he needed. Thank you Emma.

Aiden: You were the bestest pal a buddy could ever wish for. Buddy was a part of you, he was you in so many ways. I remember when buddy was just a baby and you looked at him and said “Buddy, Me … the same”. I will carry you through this my precious boy.

And finally …

Mr. Steve, (Matties night nurse) every night you would see me tuck Mattie in and whisper something in his ear. You may have thought it was a prayer but it was really more of a fathers affirmation to his son. I’d like to share it with you now.

You are the sweet son of my love.

You are strong and brave, gentle and kind, and SO smart.

And I love you from the from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.

From your sweet little eyes to the tip of your nose.

And I’ve always been your Papa cause you’ve always been my boy.

Cause you’ve always been my boy and I’ve always been your Papa.

I love you Mattie Sam.

You are my BIG, STRONG, handsome, kind, and gentle son; and I’m SO proud to be your Papa and I’m SO SO glad that your my boy. 



5 thoughts on “You’ve Always Been My Boy and I’ll Always Be Your Papa

  1. John, it has been remarkable to watch you love your children… an example for mine who do not have an earthly father. These words were so beautiful. Thank you for your love, your dedication, your example and your honesty. May God hold you ever so close.

  2. Thank you for sharing during your time if grief. You have ministered to me through your blog for some time now but this glimpse into your life has renewed my lifelong desire to speak peace and blessing over my children-especially the ones from hard places.

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