Remembering Papa

Thirty years ago today, my grandfather — Papa, passed away.   I think about him especially between Christmas and January 19th because I remember the last December.  He was at Emory Hospital in December 1980.  I remember the drive; I-75 to I-20 — Exit Memorial Drive — North to Briarcliff and a right on the By Way.  We wound our way the back roads of Emory Village.  The beautiful homes were elegantly decorated for Christmas.  Many homes had no curtains and you could see the fanciness inside.  I carried my school homework and a Seventeen magazine.  I was sixteen.  I dreamed about living in the homes we passed.

It had been a difficult year.  My grandfather had lung cancer and he was on oxygen at home.  I remember sitting next to his bed listening to him sleep.  He had trouble with fluid on his lungs and he was afraid of not waking up.  That’s really why I was sitting there — instructed to wake him up if I thought his breathing was getting bad.  Looking back now, I remember that as precious time spent.

He was hospitalized in December and the last time in January.  Papa was fully aware on that day thirty years ago.   He asked for the family to gather — he waited until everyone arrived.   We gathered around in prayer and maybe sang a hymn.  My sister held his hand — my grandmother on the other side and the nurse.  A few moments after we had prayed, the nurse simply said, “He’s gone.”  It was quiet and peaceful — a falling asleep.

I left the room and walked away — around a hall to find a place alone.  I stared out a window and cried.  I had hoped so much for Papa to receive a miracle of healing.  I was in disbelief for awhile.

Today, I’m not sad or even melancholy.  I’m only aware that I wished I knew him longer — long enough to realize how much alike we are.  He still finds ways to let me know he’s still there.

Peppermint Prayers and My Papa

My Papa and the Year for Priests

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6 thoughts on “Remembering Papa

  1. Nice memories! My grandfather died the same day forty years ago and I have a fond memory of him as well. You brought back the sweetness of my relationship with my “nonno”. Thanks, you are a gentle soul.
    God bless
    Eugenia

  2. Jan, I too was 16 when my beloved Papa died. It was a cold February day and I literally felt my world turn upside down. It has been 51 years since that day and I still miss him but, like you, the sadness has faded and I only think of wonderful memories. I know one day we will be reunited. God bless you.
    Judy

  3. My Mom passed away a year ago on January 19th. She was 96 and ready….we were somewhat ready since she decided it was time and told us she would be gone in two weeks. She was almost right – it was 16 days. She waited until your birthday in December, waited till Christmas passed and my youngest brother finally came to see her (from N.Y.) and waited for his birthday, Jan. 15th, to pass. Then she quietly drifted away in our home, with hospice, in her own room. I was scared about how the end would be, disappointed that I wasn’t with her when it happened (3 A.M.) as I had finally fallen asleep, but beautiful in that we were all together in the same house. I still feel her presence in her room and it is almost like she hasn’t left us. We miss her but were fortunate to have her live with us for the last ten years of her life. What a blessing. Thank God.

  4. Oh, a beautiful memory, for sure. I doubt a day goes by when I don’t think of my Grandfather, and your post brought those last hours back for me. He died in the hospital, though he wasn’t supposed to, not then. I know some day, in a different time, we’ll see each other again. Thanks for the post. k

  5. My Father in Law passed away almost two years ago. He was my best friend, and as I write this, I cant help but cry. It’s o hard to lose someone like that, and realize that you maybe should have spent more time with them. I only had my FIL for 8 years, but he helped make me the man I am today.

    Hold on to that memory, keep it in your heart for as long as you can, and just know that one day, you’ll see him again.

    God bless you for sharing this story with us.

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