It's been almost two weeks since I completed Operation: Nana Extraction. It was quite the adventure bringing Nana home from Florida, one that I haven't had time to put into words and do justice to. That is coming, soon. Life is funny and it gets in the way sometimes.
One of the last things Nana said to Jessie and I before we dropped her off at home was there would be a hospice memorial service for all the people that lost their various battles in the past year, including Papa. She asked if we would want to go and of course we both said yes.
We both got out of work later than we wanted, I got there in record time, turning a 50-55 minute ride into a 35 minute timewarp. It was important for me to get there for the beginning of it, so I could talk to Nana for a bit prior. She didn't think we would be able to make it but she was pleasantly surprised.
The service was wonderful and when Papa's face popped up on the slideshow it was admittedly hard to hold back the tears. Maybe it was the anticipation, not knowing where he was in the slideshow and seeing all these other people that passed and their faces, wondering what their lives were like and how they lived them and who they touched. Wondering who in the room was representing that person. Wondering if they were able to accomplish everything they wanted, if they were able to become the person they always wanted. It was tough having those questions run through your mind and then seemingly become ambushed by a familiar face. I have pictures of Papa all over - at home on the fridge, at work in my cube, rotating in my wallpaper assortments on my computers.
But this time it was different. I don't know why, but so many memories of my life with him were suddenly there - sitting on his lap when I was no more than 3 with a cake in front of me, being at the lake and him teaching me how to bait a hook, how strong he was with his hands and how much stronger he was with his voice. All in the time it took for his picture to display and disappear.
I spent this Memorial Day at Nana's, the house that Papa lived in and loved for over 40 years. We had some family and close friends over and as our usual, James came over to put in the pier with us. He wrote this on my Facebook, in regards to a post I put up about feeling my Papa there.
"You are right about him being there yesterday the whole time putting in the pier I could hear his voice in my head. Every time we had bolts on the sections I can remember how protective over those bolts he was like they were made from gold! I never wanted to be the one that dropped one in the water on his watch! Yesterday I was more deliberate holding onto a bolt and nut knowing he was watching us."
My grandfather was an awesome, amazing man, but my grandmother is definitely his equal. She's a rock. She turns 80 in a couple weeks and is sharp as a tack. She is incredibly witty, and has a quick wit that if you're lucky to be around even once you'll never forget.
56 years together. Unfathomable.
The hospice counselor said it was important to remember those we love and lost, emphasizing the word 'love' rather than 'loved'. Your relationship with someone changes when they pass away, it doesn't end. I never really thought of it that way but now I can't help but wonder how I ever thought of it any other way...
Papa was a one of a kind, as is Nana. I'm lucky to have been able to have my grandparents with me for as long as I have and see them as often as I did, learn from them as often as I could.
They really aren't the lucky ones. We are.