Friday, July 1, 2011
He was strong, but I could tell he was gentle.
When I first met him, I sat across from the table staring at his hands. I always wondered about the stories he could tell, the things he had seen. And though those stories were probably great, the thing I knew for sure was that this man, quiet and strong, was greatly loved.
He was Dad to my Father-In-Law and four brothers. Grandpa to all his grand kids including my husband. But in our home, we spent the last five years referring to him as Great Papa.
The first time that I saw a glimpse into who Great Papa was was when Grandma passed away. I remember sitting in the hospital room on one side of the bed and as I watched him, I could see the love he had for her. This big, strong, quiet man loved his wife. And as I watched, my heart hurting for him, I was thankful that my husband came from a legacy of strong, honorable men.
Great Papa and Grandma had five sons and a daughter whom they lost when she was quite young. When he would speak of Gloria his eyes would light up and the love for his little girl was made so obvious. Six children, ten grandchildren, and thirteen grandchildren later - when he would talk to Dave and I about raising children, he would chuckle and tell me stories about when all his kids were little. And often times, feeling overwhelmed with twins, he would encourage me with stories of when him and his brother were little.
Great Papa was a twin as well. He would tell me stories about how his dad would tie him and his brother (Uncle Al) up to a clothesline and let them run around - but at least that way they were contained...and believe me, I considered it for my kiddos! I remember when we had our twins and they began to talk in their twin language, they would both come to him and stand at his knees and talk up a storm. And Great Papa would just join in on their conversation, talking in twin language right with them - they seemed to understand each other.
When we had Lily, we were so excited to go over and see Great Papa and introduce him to the newest part of our family. Dave loved his grandpa so much and I knew how much it meant to have Great Papa see him in the role of "dad" and be proud of him.
And then Will was born and we went over there shortly thereafter and Great Papa asked me with a smirk, "When's the next one coming? You need a couple more to keep up with Joan and me." I told him I was more than happy to let him keep the record. He then let me know that big families were such a blessing, as they are, and then he blessed me with his next statement.
"My boys all married strong women. They sure have minds of their own, but they are all such great women. You fit right in." I had been married into the family for six years, and with that statement, I felt like I was one of his.
This last week as we knew his time here was coming to an end, Dave went to see him. He opened his eyes and upon seeing Dave asked, "How are those kids? Are those kids good?"
Dave replied, "They are great. They talk about Great Papa all the time and draw you pictures." Great Papa smiled and closed his eyes again. I know he was proud of Dave and who he has become, operating in the most important job of his life as father to our children...and his last words to Dave were about the legacy that he began, and that Dave will continue.
Great Papa passed away yesterday. He went to heaven. Right now I can only imagine the reunion that is happening between him, Grandma and Gloria.
We will miss him here tremendously, yet I know his heart is thrilled to be with the ones he has so terribly missed...and in my heart I know we will see him again...strong, healthy and whole.
We love you Great Papa.
From the jungle by Melissa Sharon at 10:07 PM