Papa

I hate that a 25% off sale at Anthropologie still doesn’t make any of the sweaters remotely affordable.

Just wanted to get that off of my chest. Meanwhile, I realize that I’ve been sorely absent from my blog. The first thing I want to type is that I’ve had a rough summer and haven’t felt like writing.

But that’s so far from the truth in so many ways.

We went to Spain.

I worked at my beloved Green Cove for a week.

I got an amazing bike, and we’ve gone on lots of great rides.

My dad dressed up in drag to raise money for Alzheimers.

And honestly about a month ago I was planning to write a post on the song Up, Up, Up by Givers, about how joyful and light it was, and how it really exemplified my summer. How I couldn’t believe how much happier I’d been this summer than last summer. Then the thing we all knew was looming and ugly on the horizon happened. My grandfather Papa passed away on August 12. Do you ever not want to type something because it’ll feel more real that way? I sat here not wanting to write that sentence, working up the courage.

Papa was 95. He lived the most full life, up to almost the last minute. He really lived every one of those 95 years in every sense of the word. He’d been sick (bladder cancer) and had reached the point that he was just … ready to go, to be done. Three months later his body finally gave into his mind. So in a way I know I should be relieved that he got what he wanted, that he wasn’t stuck here anymore, in a sense. But I don’t care. I don’t care that I got to know my grandfather better and more fully as an adult than a lot of people get to know their grandparents. I miss him.

I miss Thursday night dinner where he’d start to order before any of us were even remotely ready, because he knew exactly what he wanted at all his regular restaurants. I can hear him saying, “coffee, decaf, black.” I hate the thought that I won’t be able to call him up when The American President is on TV. I don’t have anyone special to make my Papa brownies for anymore. He was my biggest supporter and critic when it came to my baked goods. He loved to hear about work, and no matter how frustrating of a day I may have had, he was always proud of what I was doing. And who in the world is going to tell me that my hair looks wonderful even when it looks like shit? I’m going to miss his endless and usually repetitive stories, especially the ones he told about my grandma, Mimi. God he loved her so much. He spoke about her in such a tone and with a look of sadness and total love that you knew he missed her and thought of her every single day, even though she had been gone for almost 14 years.

Today I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone and came across this one of a clock that Michael’s grandma has in her apartment in St. Louis. We took it because Papa had been describing this exact type of clock one day. He used to carry it in our jewelry store back in the day. We were going to share the photo with him, but it slipped my mind, and we never did. Such a stupid thing, and I shared so many other things with him, but there you go.

I really did not expect to be this sad when this day came. I think what’s been hardest for me to come to terms with is where he may or may not be right now. Papa was a hardcore atheist. He was proud of that. So I know that he probably didn’t believe in the traditional afterlife where you maybe meet up with your loved ones, etc. etc. What he did believe would happen to him when he passed on, I’m not sure. I want so much to believe that Papa’s with Mimi, that they’ve been reunited in the great beyond, but I don’t want to be unfaithful to who he was. So he’s just…gone? He just stopped breathing and that was it? That’s incredibly hard for me to wrap my brain around.

Last Christmas Papa and I were at Kids Ink, a children’s bookstore in town, picking out books for a friend. The lady in the store brought us a pile of books, including When We Were Very Young, a collection of poems by A.A. Milne. My dad read these poems to me as I grew up, especially the poem “Vespers.” I never realized the deeper family tradition with this poem until that day in the bookstore though. Papa picked it up, turned to the last page, and smiled. “My mother used to read this poem to me every night before I went to bed,” he said quietly. And then he started reading it, “Vespers.” I’ve never heard him get emotional when he talked about his mother, but right then he had tears in his eyes.

I didn’t want to talk at the funeral. I’m a terrible public speaker. Instead, I read “Vespers.”

Vespers
by A.A. Milne

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

God bless Mummy. I know that’s right.
Wasn’t it fun in the bath to-night?
The cold’s so cold, and the hot’s so hot.
Oh! God bless Daddy – I quite forgot.

If I open my fingers a little bit more,
I can see Nanny’s dressing-gown on the door.
It’s a beautiful blue, but it hasn’t a hood.
Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.

Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,
And pull the hood right over my head,
And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,
And nobody knows that I’m there at all.

Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.
And what was the other I had to say?
I said “Bless Daddy,” so what can it be?
Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

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4 thoughts on “Papa

  1. Mijn lief meisje,
    Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I read your entry about dear Papa. So much I want to say to you. You are a wonderful daughter and granddaughter. You are a wonderful writer. You are loyal. You are beautiful. You are the best.
    Love,
    Mama

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