Sunday, May 22, 2005

Six years ago today

It was a Saturday, and I was working at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I had to work Sundays, and so hadn't been gonig to church too often, and I was really missing it. The church I was going to at that time had a Saturday service, so I decided to go. By the time I got off work, changed, and took the bus there, I was a little bit late. I had changed, but I felt all icky form a long day of gardening and cleaning. I snuck in and sat off to the side near the back. Maybe 15 or 30 minutes into the service, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I think I was in the middle of singing or something, cause it startled me. I turned around and it was my dad! I thought maybe he had come to go to church with me, but then he motionned for me to come with him into the hall. Maybe he had something to tell me. As soon as we got into the hallway, my dad started crying. He blurted out, "Papa just died." I would find out later that he had had a huge stroke earlier that day. I don't really know what my thoughts were at that point. I was more concerened about my dad. He and Papa were so close. My dad was a mess. He told me later that he hadn't wanted to tell me that way, but when he opened his mouth, that was all that came out. I'm glad he told me that way. It was such a human moment.

As we prepared for his memorial service, every member of our family wrote something, and then the idea was to combine them into one tribute. But when my mom went to compile them all together, she realized that they were all too personal to just be edited into one. So we read them all. Nana and I had both written letters. I remember my mom saying how she read only the first word of Nana's letter and she was in tears.

Nana's letter began, "Dear." That's what she always called Papa. I imagine throughout their marriage it took on many different tones ranging from exhasperated to loving, but to her, he was "Dear." Her letter was full of memories, many from before they were even married. I cried as I saw Nana in a different light - as a teenager falling in love, then getting married. After over 50 years together, two children, three grandchildren, now her husband and best friend was gone.

It was, thankfully, not an entirely sad ceremony. Papa loved Jesus with all his heart. We knew that he was finally home and that we'll get to see him again. In the meanitme, though, there are days like today when I think about him, and miss him so much. He was such a loving, tender man. He was goofy, and always had a story or a joke to tell. It didn't matter that he told the same jokes over and over and over again. We loved the them not for their punchlines, but for the joy Papa got in telling them. He loved photography and nature, things which I, too, love. Two things in paricular remind me of Papa. I have always loved looking at how the mountains fade off into the horizon. Range upon range gets hazier and hazier as they get farther away. I mentionned that to my parents one time shortly after Papa died, and my dad told me that Papa always said the same thing. The other thing that reminds me of him are old barns. He loved to take pictures of old, dilapitated barns - where the roof sags, or they look like they're about to fall over. It sounds strange, I suppose, but he saw the beauty in them. Once sturdy, now left as a memory of days gone by. He has photo upon photo of these old barns that Nana put together in an album for my dad. I love those photos. Whenever I see an old barn or farmhouse, I'm reminded of Papa. (For examples, click here and here - these aren't his photos, but it gives you the idea).

More important than jokes and mountains and farmhouses, though, is the person Papa was and the legacy that he left. My dad grew up watching him an learning from him. The way Papa played, worked, worshipped, spoke, treated my Nana, treated my dad and my aunt, treated others: all this shaped who my dad is today. While I wish that Papa was still around and that now, as an adult, I could continue to get to know him, I can see so much of who he was in my dad, and for that I am so grateful.


On May 22, 1999, Papa finally
got to see his saviour face to face.


someone in pursuit of who she is said...

It sounds like your Papa was very special to you.

Thanks for your comment on my site, and for the link! I've put a link to your blog on my site, too.

Clint said...

Sounds like a really good man. My great grandpa died in April of 99. He was 92. Also, I call my grandmother Nana.

Nice site, and thanks for commenting at mine...wherever that comment may be?

Take care.