In Loving Memory

My Papa (my maternal grandfather) died unexpectedly the week before Thanksgiving.

For the last few years--really since his wife, my Grandma, whom we called 'Bum' passed--any time I had multiple missed calls or texts from my mom, I braced myself for exactly this news. He was in great health, so there was no reason to think that call was coming soon, but I knew he wouldn't live forever--even if I kinda hoped he would.

He was my very favorite. The best, best, best. I was his first grandchild--the only granddaughter until I was a Senior in high school--so for years I was the "Favorite Granddaughter" and then, once Sunny was born and Thea after that, they became "Favorite Granddaughter" too. 

At my high school graduation with Bum and Papa and his parents, my great-grandparents, Nana and Grandpa

{all three granddaughters stuffed on to a small couch to be near Pops}

Five daughters and eight grandchildren and, somehow, each was his favorite. We all have special memories of time spent with Bum and Papa. And, from the last few years, time spent with just Papa.

Like the afternoon he took me and Logan to the driving range--and then to golf nine holes. (They waited so patiently, as I tried my best to get anywhere near the green... even while playing 'best ball.')

Bum and Papa sat front-and-center every Sunday as I led worship at Mariners Ocean Hills. I'd sneak in a few minutes early to give them a hug and thank them for coming, and they'd hang out a few minutes after to see if I wanted to grab a bite to eat.

Except for one Sunday, the week before this picture (below) was taken. On that weekend, I had to run to catch them rushing out of service. When I caught up and asked if they wanted to go for lunch, Papa apologized, explaining they had to go straight home... they'd started watching a new tv show and couldn't wait to see what would happen. Yep, my grandparents watched all five seasons of Breaking Bad in one week. (I've always felt the love of good TV was in my genes.) 

I remember I could hardly breathe the first weekend he walked into church alone after Bum died. For a while after that, my aunt Gina joined him. One Sunday, after church, we baked some chocolate chip cookies and watched Jeopardy. (He schooled us, by the way.)

A few years ago, Papa bought my aunt Debra a car in Southern California and needed to get it to her in San Francisco. I jumped at the chance to spend the day in the car--and the weekend in the city--with him.

One catch: the car only had a cassette player. So, before the trip, we scrolled eBay looking for tapes we'd both enjoy and could leave in the car for Debra. 

I can't explain how deeply I love the memory of driving up the freeway, belting out Elton John hits with my Papa.

We stopped for a bathroom break in Gilroy, CA. "The Garlic Capital of the World." We bought some drinks and snacks and snapped a quick picture.

Later that year, I took an extended trip to Kenya to work with my friend Sammy at Precious Kids Center. Papa and my mom took me to the airport the morning I left--and I sobbed as they dropped me off. The night I came home, (about six months later) we all met for dinner and I got to sit next to Papa and eat some banana pudding... it felt just like home.

Two years later, we took a second road trip to San Francisco--this time with my cousin Sunny and her best friend. For a few days, we drove all over town, with my SF-based cousins Thea and Sidney. We toured museums, parks, the farmer's market.

We went for Chinese food, coffee, burgers, and ice cream... as I drove his car, he repeatedly commented on how nice it was to have a chauffeur--especially in a city with such limited (and such precarious) parking. 

We also made a trip to Muir Woods! How cute is my Pops with his big walking stick?

It was a very full, very fun family weekend.

One Labor Day weekend, my aunts decided to rally the family to rent a house in Palm Springs. With four of the five aunts and five of the eight cousins, we spent most of the weekend in the pool. 

With the exception of a massive game of Yahtzee and a trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet at the local casino.

For Christmas 2018, two of my friends worked together to draw up a sketch of Papa and print it on sweatshirts for everyone. They're a tad warm for Southern California winters, but I'm wearing mine as I write this on a cold TX morning. (I think this will also be the tattoo we get in memorium.)

I miss him. And I'll keep on missing him, that's how grief works. I know that.

We spent many afternoons sitting side-by-side drinking coffee and reading books. I remember one day when he'd picked me up from the mechanic. I offered to buy us coffee while we read our books and waited for the car. After sitting in silence, reading, for about 45 minutes, he looked up at me and said, "Boy, when you asked me to sit and read with you, you really meant it! Most people say they want to, but then they can't stop talking and I don't get any reading done!" 

Unfortunately, I don't have many photos of those days--I wish I did. But I'll take a page out of Jim and Pam's book and hold tightly to the mental pictures from those afternoons feeding birds, reading books, and splitting a cookie.

From my cousin Logan's 30th Birthday. At the end of the night, Logan said, "No fair! You got the cutest picture of Papa ever!"

On my wedding day

When I think about my Bum, I'm sad she didn't live long enough to meet Josh. They really would have loved to sit and talk about everything and nothing together. 

And, while we didn't make it to a third Christmas together, I'm so, so glad he got to meet Papa. 

My Papa was the best. He was funny and thoughtful and smart and kind and I can’t believe he’s gone. 

We're hoping to have a memorial service sometime in December. For now, I'll look for small comforts-- reading books, baking (and eating) pies, and decorating our house for Christmas--as a way to cope with the loss and navigate grieving a handful of states away from my family.

1 comment

  1. Absolutely PERFECT photos...and what a tribute! He really did love you the best.