02 June 2012

My Papa

My pictures are almost all in use right now for the Memorial, many of which are not digital, so this is picture-less...
I don't want to write this post, I don't want to have a reason to write it. But, I do. I had hoped and planned to write a post about my Papa (Grandpa), while he was still living, a post to let you know how truly wonderful of a man he is, not was. A man who lived, a man who loved. A lot.
My Papa was without a doubt the most loving man I have ever known, he had the incredible ability to be the best baby whisperer and yet the most masculine of men. He was an elbows deep Dad, Papa and Great Papa.
Over the past month, my mind and heart have relived many of my favorite memories. The nearly three weeks he spent at home lying in a hospital bed went way too quickly. And yet, watching the rapid decline of the health of someone I love so so much, resulted in some of the longest hours of my life.
A lot of time to think, to remember, to laugh and to cry and cry some more. Papa was the closest person to a Dad that I have ever had. He accompanied me to countless daddy/daughter events, he was my go to man. He filled the void of not having a father, so much so, that I can honestly say the vast the majority of the time I never even noticed the absence of a dad. He was the man I always looked up to, and will continue to learn from even from just his memory. He cheered me on at sporting events, sat through countless plays, let me peak in the hood of many cars, and never once made me feel like I was in the way. He absolutely LOVED having family close by. When looking through pictures for his slide show, I couldn't help but notice a very common theme. Practically anytime he was sitting down, us grandkids or his children when they were younger, or even my Grandma was always on his lap or hanging on his arms or shoulders. He was surrounded. As the 13th child of 17 total, he was used to having lots of family around. Thankfully, he loved it!
Even while he was at home these past few weeks, Georgiana would play with the toy trains right by his bed, sit in my lap next to him so we could read Papa a story, or just climb on into bed to cuddle with him. Ahhhh... that's what is hard. Or that's what is one of the hardest things. My little Peanut, Georgiana, was so close with him. He has been a huge part of her first two years, and it makes my heart crumble to think she won't remember. It makes me long for heaven! Long for the day when there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more separation from those who have gone before. But, I will tell you what... I will make sure I muster strength even in these first days, to do my best to fill Georgiana's days with joy. That's how Papa lived, with joy and looking out for others. If anyone endured trials in their lifetime, it was him, but he pushed through them with amazing perseverance and a joy that could not be ignored by anyone that met him.
He was so playful, he was witty and he made life fun! He taught me how to drive, and we would have weekly driving dates where he would pick me up at home in whatever was his latest and greatest auction car. In his retirement, he flipped many a car, and I got to test drive quite a few. I remember one day he was driving, and he said "this is an example of how not to drive..." He also let me know if my mom was ever too stressed while I was driving with her, to just pull over and take a breather and only continue when I was ready. I did this once, she was not happy, I remember as clear as day looking at her in the mall parking lot I had pulled into, I said "Papa said." And that was that. I use to joke that he and my Grandma were the King and Queen of the family, but they are, the Matriarch and Patriarch. He lead and took care of his family his entire life, he took care of all of us.
He would often ask me, "are you happy?" Just checking in.
He walked me down the aisle and was the first man other than Kelly to hold Georgiana, he was my Papa. I think it only fitting that he had a name more unique than Grandpa, because he was just that, unique. He was an All American man, yet a man of his own.
Kelly absolutely loved all of Papa's jokes, just tonight when Kelly, Georgiana and I sat down to read Bible stories, Kelly sat between us and said "a rose between two thorns." One of his all time favs.
My Aunt Michelle and Grandma told me that Papa used to come home and sing "Hey good lookin', whatcha got cookin'" to my Grandma. He made life light and fun and was real and honest and forgiving and well, my Papa.
When he was dancing with my sister at her wedding, his dance changed quite a bit when he noticed the video camera. He started leading my sister in all sorts of spins and moves that he was quite familiar with. He knew how to entertain a crowd, ha! He use to tell us the best stories, adventures of growing up in a large family, playing pranks and switching places as an identical twin.
He cooked the best breakfast. The kind that keeps you full all day. His hashbrowns were my absolute favorite.
Death is just not easy. Not at all. I was so wrong in my thinking before. I thought that if you had time, a chance to say goodbye, that that would somehow make things easier. Like, if someone told me that they lost a loved one to a disease, or that loved one was older, that that somehow made it less painful for them. Wrong. I was very wrong. It doesn't really make it easier at all. I find it shocking to realize this. It's absolutely awful watching someone you love become ill. Papa battled alzheimer's for 8 1/2 years. Much of his mind was stolen from him, but he never forgot his family. He knew us, he created new relationships with all of the great-grandchildren, he knew I was Georgiana's mommy. He loved my Grandma and looked after her, even while she cared for him. What a blessing it is to have the memory of him telling Georgiana, "Papa loves you." What a gift. I have only one regret. For the past couple of years, Georgiana and I loved to go to my Grandparent's house for a weekly lunch/play date. For the last two months of us doing that, I brought my camera along with me. I knew I just needed to snap pictures of how stinkin' cute Georgie and Papa were together. But, I didn't. I didn't snap any. I always had next time.
My Grandma and I have those special memories engraved on our mind, I just want to look at them in a picture, to show Georgiana someday. Again, I'll just remember that we said goodbye on earth, but we will see him again in heaven.
I wanted to hear his voice the other night, so I played a part of my wedding video. The dj at our wedding asked my grandparents what their secret to 50 years (now 57) of marriage was? Papa said, "Stay with your partner, and go with the flow!" Grandma said with a big smile, "Perseverance!" See, they were so fun together! Their love story is one for the books. A beautiful Native girl with one brother, falls in love with a handsome all American cowboy from a family of 17 children!
They worked soooo hard and built a beautiful life together. The word generous doesn't even do them justice.
I miss Papa's hugs, his facial expressions with his eyebrows going up, the way he would squeeze Grandma's shoulders when he walked up behind her, the way he loved his family.
I've been surprised that I cry the most when I try to say the most simple things, like "I'm going to Grandma and..." I naturally say Grandma and Papa's house. Or, Grandparents, or I'm at Grandma and Papa's or or or. They are truly two who became one. Georgiana is just as confused. My sweet girl is still perplexed that Papa went somewhere without Grandma. The other night she asked if Papa could buy a phone in heaven, she had her little kitchen phone up to her ear and she was going to talk to him. The last two days, she's been really concerned if Papa is getting lunch in heaven. She's quite pleased to hear that he is. A little over a week ago, the table was getting full, so I sat in Papa's chair to eat dinner. Georgiana was a little horrified. She really wanted Papa to be in his seat, she couldn't believe I would take it! When she gets a little frustrated that he's not back yet, she tells me "I ax (ask) my Gaga (grandma)." She wants Grandma to fix this. Grandma wants to fix this, we all want to. But we can't. Which makes it even more difficult. I heeded to the advice a friend gave me from a grief seminar she went to. I have to say "died, dead." I can't say, "Papa went bye bye to heaven." Because bye bye means you come back, and I don't want her to think if someone goes bye bye they won't be back, things for Georgiana can be very simple, yet super complicated at the same time. She has no concept of death. But, I know her little mind is trying to figure this all out. She asks about Papa constantly, and her new thing is asking about him in the car and then immediately asking me to hold her hand. I drive (cautiously of course), holding my baby girl's hand, while we talk about what she thinks Papa had to eat today.
Please pray for my Georgie girl and my Grandma. We all need prayer, but if you remember two of us, please let it be them.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful and so so true, I love you!
Aunt Michelle

Our Huckleberry Family said...

Thank you for sharing this! I remember you talking about your Papa even when we were like 13 years old. It's always been very touching how fond you were of each other. Praying for you all. Love you.

Mike and Ashley said...

My heart is just breaking for you all. I know how much you loved your Papa. He really was such a great man! Praying for you all!

Love, Ashley

Our growing family said...

Oh Nicole! I am so sorry!!! =( My heart is breaking for you all. This was a beautiful tribute. I didn't even know him and it warmed my heart and made me tear up.
What an amazing man. I'm sure he is in Heaven taking care of your baby...and I'm sure he is lovin' it!
I love you so much. I'll keep you all in my prayers and you wade through this season of grief and loss.
love you.

Stefanie said...

Love you friend.

Allie Watson said...

Oh this was hard to read...tears from hormones or probably just the fact that I have memories from junior high and younger. I can't imagine how sad this is for you, to lose your Papa. I know how much he means to you and I will be praying for you friend.

kelsy said...

Love you Nicole! I will be praying for you, Georgiana and your grandma in these coming weeks.

christy said...

What a beautiful tribute of your Papa. Thanks for sharing it. I have such a picture of your relationship with him. Prayers are coming your way girl!

e said...

wow, nicole, what a beautiful and eloquent tribute to a man who holds such a special place in your heart. i regret i'm only reading it three months later...i'm so sorry. i'm so glad he was in your life and you loved the most and best you could with the time you had together. he still exists! and no, it's never easier. praying for the ache and the reminders that are bittersweet. LOVE YOU.