It's been almost five months since he passed, and I still can't utter his name without choking up. I still can't stand to look at pictures because it still hurts too much. Even though I know he's not coming back, I find myself gazing at "his" chair in his office and at his house and wishing he'd just magically appear there. In fact, I get a little ruffled under the feathers if someone sits there because it's PaPa's chair.
Deek and I were talking recently about when people die and how the people left here are keepers of their memories. And I cried wondering when my generation and the one after me--those who experienced the greatness of PaPa--are gone, who will remember him? I don't want the wonderfulness that is him to fade. And Deek told me that every time I show love, mercy, gratefulness, and generosity, I'm spreading PaPa's spirit to the world. They may not remember him personally, but he'll still leave his mark when I'm kind because he was and someone else is kind because I was. In that same way, PaPa himself spread the light and love of his parents and grandparents to me even though I never knew them.
It's not the same, but it's something. It's a way for me to keep PaPa's memory alive past him, past me, past the generation behind me. I'll tell a few more jokes. Try to live in the present more rather than focus on the future. I'll hug my people every time I see them. I'll pursue my passions and dreams with more gusto. I'll put my nose to the grindstone and work even harder. I'll do my best to show the traits I learned from PaPa, and in doing so, you'll know him a little too. And maybe after I share joke, you'll tell it at a get together, and when people laugh, PaPa will be there. And someone else will tell that same joke, and the cycle continues. Man, PaPa did love a joke. I can still hear his laughter in my head and in my heart.
PaPa had five wonderful brothers and a lovely sister. I can still see each one of their faces and hear their voices in my mind. They understood the meaning of family, and they taught it to all of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I don't want any of them to fade. So, I'm going to post a picture and list all their names so there's a record. And when you see them, I want you to think of your own family--your mother, your brother, your wife, your child--and I want you do something today that shows them you love them. And when you do, these seven people will be there, smiling and laughing because family was everything to them.
Top row, left to right: Stacy, Ed, Harold
Bottom row, left to right: Darwin (PaPa), Wendell, John (aka: Bunky), and Eldred
I love you, PaPa. I miss you, and I always will. I know they say "time heals all wounds" and all that, but I don't think I'll ever really get over losing you. I will, however, do my best to make you proud and keep your spirit alive now and in the future.