Monday, February 14, 2011
Happy Birthday, Papa.
I know that you aren't "here", but I had to put some of my thoughts down.
I miss you like crazy. When buying Valentines Day Cards I automatically went to the birthday card section - it's your birthday too. I always wanted to make sure that you got birthday cards, even though it was valentines day. Sort of like kids born on Christmas, I wanted to make sure you never got gipped.
I wish you had met your granddaughter. I wish I'd had more time with you. I know I got out there every time I could, but I always regret not being there more. I spent so little time with you as a child, I wanted to make up for it. I'm so glad I made you a priority in my adult life.
The "you" I remembered as a kid was a grouchy, grumpy old man. I remember you and Grandma kicking us out of the house, no matter how cold or hot it was. "Kids shouldn't be underfoot". I remember you smoking way too much, and drinking a lot. I remember trips in your car to a drive through liquor mart and getting a pretzel stick and loving it.
My first interaction with you as an adult, was begrudging. You were sick and Joy and Pam wanted to see you put in a nursing home, and you didn't want to go. So, I packed up my life and moved in with you. I hated the smoking and remember arguing with you over your smoking while we were eating dinner (which eventually I won.)
I remember realizing that you still were in love with Grandma then too. Every single thing I did, I did wrong, I had to do it like her. Whether it was ironing your clothes, washing windows, or cooking stew. It had to be done the way Grandma did it. At first it was irritating. I was not Grandma, but then I realized how awesome it was, now days people hardly stay married and in love for a week, you stayed married a lifetime, and loved her till the day you died. You, Papa, YOU showed me that love can last forever.
The more I got to know you, the more my images were shattered. You were a grumpy grouch, yes. At the same time you had a sense of humor I never would have guessed. You said hurtful things sometimes, and when I finally got up the courage to ask why, you said because people deserved to know the truth about things. You loved trying new things, which was neat in an old guy. I remember telling you I was having gastric bypass surgery and you absolutely not wanting me to do it, telling me you "forbid" me to have it, because you didn't want me to get hurt... I think that was the first time I realized how much you cared about me. I remember calling you to find out what the bird was in our yard that was pretending to be hurt to draw us away from it's nest, and you KNOWING what it was. You told me how to keep rabbits out of my garden, and about a Grandma I barely knew.
I'm glad I got to know you, I'm glad I loved you enough to miss you. As much as it hurts, I will never regret knowing you.
One of the things that broke my heart the most at your funeral wasn't your passing. It was the fact that there was a room full of people who were your family that had no idea who you were. They didn't know you'd quit smoking, or stopped drinking. I don't think they had any idea you could tell a joke. They had never sat on the floor in front of your spot on the couch while you told story after story about your old photo's. I cried for them, I remember Kelley comforting me as a I cried for them saying, "they don't even know what they lost", and knowing it was true.
Take care Papa, we miss you. I know you are up there with my baby boy, Christopher, and I know you are taking care of him. Do me a favor and hold his hand, make sure looks both ways as he crosses the streets of Heaven.