The phone rings early in the morning and you know something is not right. It's mom, "Kris!" I knew by the sound of her voice that something was wrong. "What?" "Dad's gone." What? Did I hear that right? Dad is gone...Mom's dad, my Papa. God, it's just so hard to comprehend. What? How can he be gone? I haven't even seen him to say goodbye. Then all of the memories come. The time when we went to Brown County to see Louise Mandrel, the many times we went to Nammy and Papa's house to spend the night. Their beautiful and perfectly manicured yard full of rose bushes and a garden. Their two finches with the weirdest chirp I had ever heard.
It's been 12 years since he was the Papa that I remember from childhood. Yes, he was diabetic, but still relatively healthy. It seems so long ago, but I could never get over it and make it normal. He and Nammy used to go on trips everywhere. Here, there, everywhere. But on that day, 12 years ago, we got news we didn't want to hear. Papa's leg needs amputated due to a sore that will not heal. A change. Ugh, I hate that word. Change. So ugly. I believe that it's the most awful word in the world. It means that things will be different. Nothing will ever be the same. He hasn't been the same since that day. Depressed? Sad? Well, of course. I know I would be sad too if I lost the ability to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. He was a tough man. Hard headed. Mean at times. He was Papa. He was always harrassing the Haas Girls' husbands. Mike was decent, they liked him. He was the quiet one with the funny laugh if you made him laugh hard enough. He hadn't done anything stupid or embarrasing yet. Wes was constantly being asked if he wanted some prune juice, which is a funny story in itself. Brian, poor Brian, was always on probation for some unknown offense. My Papa could make anyone feel scared and make them laugh in the same minute. He had a way of being the sweetest old fart and the meanest old fart at the same time. God, I will truly miss him. Some years after he lost one leg, the news didn't get any better. "Well, Papa has developed a sore on his foot and the doctor is going to have to amputate it." Wow, Papa? Not MY Papa. Not ANOTHER change. He has already lost most of his independence. Don't take it all away. But, it happened. Now, we had a no legged Papa, but he was still the same old sweet farty old man.
Nammy couldn't take care of Papa, not by herself, so they moved in with Uncle Rick and Aunt Deb. What a blessing because we all knew how Papa felt about going into a "home." So, Rick would take care of Papa and be there when he needed him. But it wasn't that easy. Papa is a stubborn old man. See that? I said is...Hasn't quite hit me yet. God, my Papa is gone. He just kept getting sick. Never 100%. Finally, he went into the hospital. Doctor said he had renal failure, congestive heart failure. Just got over pneumonia. After a week or two, his tests were okay, so they said they would send him home. Last night, he went home and this morning, he went HOME. To be with God would be so amazing. My Papa is now walking with the Lord, walking hand in hand with Him! He is so lucky. Both the Lord and Papa *wink* *wink* ;)
The most wonderful part of his passing? My Papa never knew his mom. She left before he was old enough to really understand. I don't really know the story behind her departure from his life, but I know she loved him and missed him dearly. Rick found her though. Emily. When we met her, she was in a nursing home a state away. She was beautiful and had a smile like an angel. She was blind and couldn't hear, so they never really "met" eachother, which broke my heart. But I had never seen Papa happier than by his mother's side. And today, I am rejoicing today because my Papa is with his Momma tonight. I bet, along with Jesus and Grandpa-Papa, she was there, with a smile on her face, seeing her baby boy once again. What a joy that has to be. To finally be able to see your mommy and have her see you.
I love you Papa and I will forever miss you until I can join you at the side of the Lord. I will try not to cry because I know you are more happy now than you have ever been, but sometimes, you just have to cry.