We got the call from one of my uncle’s last Sunday that my Papa, my Dad’s father, was not doing well. I flew out of Boston that night to get down to Daytona after one o’clock Monday morning. I was able to spend time with my Dad and family and my Nana and be there for my Papa’s last days. He passed away Wednesday evening. He was surrounded by love, having seen and heard from all three of his sons and more than a handful of family members who loved him dearly.
My Papa was one of the best people I’ve ever known and such a force in my life. He and my Nana brought me to ballet lessons when I was little and when he picked me up he’d have those hard strawberry candies with the jam centers for me. He’d bring me down to the ocean to search for the perfect rocks to throw into the waves and laugh at the ‘ker-plunk’ noises they made. When I would stay with he and my Nana on the weekends, they’d bring me out to dinner and then to the grocery store to rent Pete’s Dragon on VHS and get fudge popsicles for dessert and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. He drove my husband and I to our first prom, taught me how to play solitaire and dominate the air hockey table, loved me when I was a crabby teenager, always remembered the chocolate covered cherries for me for Christmas, brought the Chinese food for Christmas Eve dinner, joined my Dad on his job sites, snuck food to every dog that graced our lives at whatever meal he was joining us for, had the best shoulders for putting babies to sleep, hugged like no other, and invariably, up until his last few months when he could have said otherwise, would always answer when asked, “how are you doing, Bob?” with “Can’t complain.” I will miss his twinkling eyes, booming laugh, and gentle soul for all of my days. He will be carried within the hearts of each one of us who loved and were loved by him so completely, and I know that in that way, he will never be gone.