Remember the Love

I was four when I lost my great-grandpa to cancer. BigBrother is four. I have vague memories of running around the funeral home with a cousin of mine who was slightly older. I also have fleeting, brief memories of the man who was the equivalent of Big Papau to my sons. I am hoping that BigBrother will retain some memories as well.

We chose not to tell BigBrother right away. We decided to let him attend indoor soccer practice that day (Sunday) as they only have two practices before they start playing games. He kept asking why I was sad. I kept telling him that we’d talk about it after soccer. And still, I didn’t tell him until we made the drive to my parents’ house. We told him that Big Papau had died. He asked a question or two and that was that for the evening.

The children attended both viewings with us. I need to have a Proud Mommy moment where I tell you that they were so well behaved that I wondered if they were really my children. In the moments before the first viewing, as we took time as individuals and families to look at Big Papau in the casket and say some goodbyes, we explained again that Big Papau was dead. Shortly after, BigBrother was heard telling someone to be quiet since Big Papau was sleeping.

That, of course, broke my heart a thousand times over.

As we were tucking the kids in bed after the second set of calling hours, I let them know that the following morning we would be going to church for Big Papau’s funeral. At that point in time, BigBrother said, and I quote:

So, he’ll wake up there?

A thousand and ten times over.

We spent some more time explaining that while it looked like Big Papau was sleeping, he was really in Heaven with Jesus. After the funeral, we wouldn’t see him anymore. Again, he asked a few questions and decided he was satisfied and then rolled over to go to sleep.


The funeral was beautiful. The bagpiper who lead the casket out played “Amazing Grace” and I cried tears of sadness and pride. The meal downstairs in the fellowship hall was delicious and, much like had happened twenty-four years prior, BigBrother and LittleBrother ran around with their slightly older cousin, laughing the innocent laugh of hearts that have not yet been broken. They were the breath of fresh air that the rest of us needed. These children are my grandfather’s legacy; it’s a good one.

As we packed up yesterday afternoon to head back to our home, we said our goodbyes to everyone. Heading down the driveway, BigBrother asked one more question. His little mind must have been in overdrive all week.

“So, is BigPapau still with Jesus?”

Oh, my Buddy. You’re so precious.

I have hope that BigBrother will remember something of a man that is quoted in his obituary as adoring his two great-grandsons. He did. He adored them. As much as I loved my Papau, I loved that my Papau loved my children even more. I hope that if they aren’t able to remember playing trains, being pushed up/down the hill, riding on the tractor or any number of activities that they did with Big Papau, I hope that they are able to think of this great man and know, without question, that they were loved.

They were so very loved.

Big Papau

I hope they remember the love.

[I have a big post coming on Monday about the Internet, friends and death/tragedy. This week has taken so much out of me that I just haven’t been able to put anything I wanted to say into words. But know that I am so very thankful for the way our family has been prayed for, though of and cared for during this time. Thank you.]


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Losing a Hero

There’s a voice mail that you never want to receive. It goes something like this:

It’s your mom. Call me. It’s an emergency.

I returned the call hoping that the emergency was that her wireless Internet was giving her fits again. It wasn’t the case. She told me that my paternal grandfather had a heart attack. I asked if he was okay or if we needed to come immediately.

He didn’t make it.

And my world crumbled.

My grandfather, fondly called Papau by the lot of the grandchildren, was a rock in our family. A strong, loving man, he taught me how a man should love a wife by the way he devoted himself to my wonderful grandmother. He taught me to stand up straight, correcting my posture so I wasn’t slump-shouldered. Maybe that seems silly but it was something important that I learned in how to carry myself. He loved me even in the most difficult times of my life.

He was one of my heroes.

As we were driving around on the day of my dad’s surprise birthday party this past September, we had a discussion that he felt he needed to have to set things straight. I wonder now if he knew. I wonder, now, if I didn’t know something was up. Two weeks ago I thought about what I would say at his funeral. He wasn’t sick and I chastised myself for even entertaining the thought. On Saturday morning, almost exactly 24 hours before he collapsed, I bought a new black dress for the funerals I assumed we would be attending this year. Some members in my husband’s family are sick.

I didn’t realize I’d be wearing it a few short days later to my own grandfather’s funeral.

I am devastated. The family is devastated. BigBrother doesn’t quite understand. And, sadly, LittleBrother will be the first to forget him, eventually likely to claim that he never remembered him. That, in itself breaks my heart. More time. For them. For myself. I hate that I didn’t get to say goodbye.


The family is flying in from all parts of the country. His sister, eleven years his elder, will be in this evening from Arizona. The youngest of grandpa’s three sons, my dad’s youngest brother, arrived this morning from Philadelphia. The middle brother arrives via a flight from Tampa and a layover in Charlotte early this afternoon. While I love when the whole family gathers on The Farm, creating a cacophony of noise and laughter, the truth is that the whole family won’t be gathering. We’re missing one. And I’m just heartbroken.

I prefer to remember him these ways. With my children. With the woman he loved so dearly.

With BigBrother

With LittleBrother

On Their 50th Anniversary

I have so much to say about the loss of a man who meant so much to me. I have so much to say about how this loss has clarified why people do turn to the Internet in their hour of need. I have so much to say… but all I could do yesterday was take a picture. It was raining. It was appropriate.

The sky cried with me.

The Sky Cries, Too

Please keep my family in your prayers. Most of all, please keep my grandmother in your prayers. She is understandably crushed by the loss of the only man she ever loved. 53 years of marriage and a story that began when she was an infant. Theirs is the most beautiful love story. So, please, say a prayer for her.

(If you have interest in attending the viewing, the funeral or sending something, please contact me by twitter, email or phone. Leave a message if I don’t answer.)