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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pap



No one would describe my grandfather as a meek or gentle man. Quite frankly, he was pretty stubborn and cantankerous and opinionated, sometimes a plain old son of a bitch. But he had to be. My grandfather worked as a coal miner while he went to college. He helped immigrants pass their citizenship tests. He fought to gain money for victims of black lung. He was so obstinate that he once had a fistfight with a man over watermelon -- the man liked watermelon, and my grandfather didn't. Reason enough to throw punches.

Times were tough, he figured, so he had to be tougher.

But beyond the prickly exterior, he was a sentimental guy at heart, a proud father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He kept a scrapbook overflowing with all of his large family's accomplishments next to his recliner, flipping through its ragged pages long after his eyes were too bad to read the yellowing articles about my uncle's promotion at Westinghouse or my father's home runs. He would grab near-strangers by the arm when we were together in public and give them my entire curriculum vitae. And he would yell at me until I accepted his $20 bill every visit, hollering, "Take it, dammit! Take it!"

My pap died late last night. He was 97. And I don't care what people say about it being easier to let go if someone is old and led a good life. He was certainly old, and I believe he led a good life, but I can't imagine it ever would have been easy to say goodbye to him.

I'm so grateful that my trip home, planned weeks before his kidneys began to fail, gave me a few more precious days with him. In his final hours, he inquired about the World Series and asked for a shot of whiskey. He was himself until the end.

I miss him already.

76 Comments:

Blogger Angela said...

What a nice tribute. I just visited my three remaining grandparents a few weeks ago. I only had a few hours with them, but I know that the time is slipping away any my annual trips back east aren't enough. So sorry for your loss.

7:17 PM  
Blogger amanda said...

so sorry for your loss. :( my pa died when he was 96 and it is never easy to lose a loved one. you will be in my thoughts.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Kelly B said...

I'm so, so sorry Carrie. Your Pap sounds alot like my Papa, who passed away in 2001. When someone who is such a CHARACTER passes away, the loss seems that much deeper- but at the same time, your memories of that person are that much stronger. I seem to remember my grandfather whenever something funny happens- and it may sound crazy, but I talk to him all the time. Anyway, I'll stop babbling- but I just wanted you to know that I'm very, very sorry.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I understand! When my grandma died, I felt that a great force for good in this world was lost. She was so opinionated and wonderful, even though most disagreed with her, she was usually right!
I miss her. Sorry for your loss...and I'm also sorry for mine!

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Angela said...

What a beautiful description of a wonderful man.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Miss Scarlett said...

Oh Carrie, I am so sorry.
It is never easy to lose someone you love. My thoughts are with you.

2:45 AM  
Blogger Sachi said...

What can I say other than I'm so very sorry to hear that you've lost him. Expecting someone's death doesn't make accepting someone's death any easier.

6:00 AM  
Blogger Lolly said...

I am thinking about your and your family, girl. Very sorry.

xo

7:28 AM  
Anonymous melissa said...

awww, i'm sorry. i know it is NEVER easy. take care.

7:50 AM  
Blogger gleek said...

oh no :( i'm so sad for you. my thoughts are with you darling.

8:18 AM  
Blogger SJ said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Sounds like he was quite a character and you'll have great memories of him your whole life.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Oh, Carrie. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like you were blessed with an amazing grandfather. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and this tribute. I'm thinkin' of ya, and hope you are doing ok.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Nettie said...

I'm so sorry. I know how important relationships with grandparents are. I'll be thinking of you and your Pap (I call my grandpa's Popie).

8:45 AM  
Blogger Veronique said...

Oh no! We're thinking of you.
And damn, your description of your pap just cracked me up..

8:50 AM  
Blogger Karin said...

((hugs)).

I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a great guy.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your pap sounded like a great man. it's never ever easy. i'm so sorry for your loss.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

What a very nice tribue to your Pap. I'm sorry for your loss... big hugs.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Bee said...

I'm sorry for you and your family's loss. He sounded like a great man.

9:27 AM  
Blogger mayarn said...

I love what you wrote here. Such a touching tribute. Thinking of you during this difficult time...

9:29 AM  
Blogger pixienyc said...

I'm so sorry, Carrie. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

So very sorry for your loss! I lost my grand-dad when I was 8 (now 28) and I miss him all the time. I think it might be harder to loose someone who has been around for so long because it's like an old comfy sweater (no disrespect intended), you've had it around for so long you're used to it. It's hard to loose something like that.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss! It sounds like you have a wealth of fond memories!

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Katie said...

Oh, Carrie, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine how you must be feeling right now. Your post really touched my heart and gave us a small peek at Paps live. You've done Pap an honor by sharing such a wonderful description of your memories. Whether our loved ones are old or young when we lose them, they are OURS and it hurts like crazy. You are in my thoughts.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm sorry for your loss of your grandfather. I'm sending you hugs and will be thinking of you and your family. Loss is so hard.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Carrie said...

I'm so sorry, Carrie. thank you for sharing him with us - what a wonderful tribute. You're in my thoughts!

10:29 AM  
Blogger michelleknits said...

Carrie, what an honest and fun portrayal of your pap you've got here. Who could blame him for boasting your cv all over town! You really are too sharp and too sweet. I miss you. And I want to say that I am keeping you in my thoughts, but you already were very much there.

10:41 AM  
Blogger the knitrider said...

My condolences. Me and my grandpa had a special bond and it was hard to lose him. I hope you can remember all the good times.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

I'm so sorry Carrie. It's never easy to lose someone who means so much to you. He sounds like a really wonderful character. Thank you so much for sharing a little of what he meant to you with us! *Hugs*

10:48 AM  
Blogger Liz K. said...

Carrie, I just want to add my condolences for your Pap's death. I love your description of him. You showed us how a child, a granddaughter, loves their grandfather's humanity, all of it.

I'm with you during what is sure to be a sad time.

11:06 AM  
Blogger KnitsnPieces said...

i have tears in my eyes... such a nice tribute. you have such lovely memories of your grandfather that will stay with you forever.

11:26 AM  
Blogger PassionKNITly said...

aww. How sad!
I still cry when I remember my grandmother who died three years ago. She would have been 80 last friday.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Skylar said...

Carrie, I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your Pap. Your tribute to him is lovely. I am thinking of you and your family during these tough times.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Ragged Around the Edges said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers. I lost my grandmother at 96 earlier this year and you are right, it is never easier. What wonderful memories you have of him, I think that's an incredible testament to someone's life: the memories they leave with others.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

so sorry for your loss. it's obvious he will be missed and it's nice you got to spend a bit of time with him before he said good-bye. and yes, it never is easy to let go, no matter how well and long lived their life was.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Noeysmommy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I still miss my grandparents and they've all been gone for over 15 years.

12:49 PM  
Blogger elizabooth said...

Oh Carrie, I'm so sorry for your loss. I love the watermelon story. He sounds like quite a guy.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Craptina said...

A man like that doesn't leave your heart. It's apparrent he loved you so much. Hang in there. We love you.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Saun said...

The world series and whiskey. He was a true character.

I send my deepest condolences. It's never easy to lose someone (saying it is crap) but you will always have the good memories.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Dorothy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Loss sucks no matter when it happens, because your life isn't the same with that hole in it.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I'm so sorry, Carrie. I'm glad you got to spend some time with him recently--you and your fam are in my thoughts.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

What a poignant tribute. Thank you for sharing your Pap with us all. My thoughts are with you and your family.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous nERY said...

Delurking to saw that was a very touching post. You made me cry!! I am so sorry for your loss. I didn't know my grandparents but my parents are getting older and I always worry. My prayers are with you.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous yahaira said...

aww I'm so sorry, and no, I don't think it's ever easy

I'll be thinking of you

3:23 PM  
Anonymous shannon said...

Oh, Carrie. I'm so sorry to hear about your Pap. I'm glad you were able to be with your family this week. I'm thinking of you.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Wanda said...

So sorry to hear about your grandfather. It's hard to lose them, it's never easy. Many hugs to you.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Brooklyn Handspun said...

Oh Carrie I am so sorry - my Nanny passed 2 years ago and I still think of her all the time...she was full of piss and vinegar and sharp as a tack till the end. You will always have those memories to comfort you.

5:02 PM  
Blogger glenna <> said...

He sounds a lot like my Paw. He wasn't really my grandfather but my sister and brothers grandfather. But he and gramma never made a difference in us. He was so cool. He has been gone for 26 or 27 years (since '78) and I still miss him. My new husband (36 years ago) tried and tried to teach me how to drive a stick shift. and after each lesson we would go in the house and he would be white and shaky. But one night I dreamed of my Paw, and he very calmly taught me and from that moment on I had no problems driving our V.W. lol I am so glad that you had him here for so long. And I am very sorry he had to leave. glenna <><

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Iraida said...

Oh dear, I have tears in my eyes. I'm so sorry for your loss. And it never does get easy. When I lost my dad and aunt what eased my pain was thinking that I gained two extra angels watching over me.

6:49 PM  
Blogger suburban prep said...

Sorry for your loss. It is never easy when someone you love passes no matter what age they are and no matter what age you are.
My grandmother passed three months before I got married. She was just shy of her 98th birthday. It was also just two weeks before my brother got married.
She and I had a very close relationship and she really loved my husband (husband to be at that time).
We had a special song at our wedding that was dedicated to her and to my DH's grandfather who had also passed away 12 days before my grandmother. Hubby's grandfather was 103. We felt that our grandparents were watching over us. I had always wanted to dance the Irish jig at my wedding with my granmother as she had with my brother and sister and cousins who had gotten married before me.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

This really made me laugh. "He was so obstinate that he once had a fistfight with a man over watermelon -- the man liked watermelon, and my grandfather didn't." He sounds like a real character.

You and your family are in my prayers.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

I'm so sorry Carrie. It is wonderful that you have such fond memories of your Pap. I know it doesn't make the loss any easier but I hope you feel his presence around you even now. Big hugs for you.

10:49 PM  
Blogger schrodinger said...

What a touching tribute to an amazing guy. My thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Christie said...

It's never easy to let anyone go, regardless of their age.

Bless you, your family and Pap. I'm sure he misses you too.

4:23 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I would bet that your grandfather would be smiling, not cantankerous, to know how you've memorialized him here. It certainly sounds as if he was proud of you and how wonderful that you got to spend some time with him before he died.

So sorry for your loss.

6:15 AM  
Blogger amanda said...

So sorry about your Pap. Sounds like you have wonderful memories, which I hope will get you through this hard time.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Vanessa said...

I'm so sorry for your loss carrie.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Risa said...

I'm so sorry.

Sometimes those cantankerous old sonsofbitches are the best kind of people, aren't they?

Thinking of you.

1:06 PM  
Blogger jenna said...

I called mine Papa. I bet they would have liked each other, although I'm not sure how my Papa felt about watermelon. :) I'm very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing a bit of him with us.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Carrie, I am so sorry. No matter what anyone says it is never easy to lose someone you love even if outsiders say it was "their time." I'm happy for you that you got a few extra moments with him. You and your family will be in my thoughts. Take care.

Rachel from hotbrunette

3:19 PM  
Blogger marie in florida said...

"he was himself" and dear child, you are a bit of him too. i'm sorry for your loss.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your Grandfather.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Oh Carrie, how sad for your family. I'm glad your Pap had a good long run so you got to know him as an adult. You should write down some of those stories, because he sounds like a truly remarkable man. Wishing you all the best.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Brooke said...

Very sorry to hear about your loss. My grandparents are now both in their eighties and having health problems. I have started staying with them one night a week to help my grandmother who recently fell and broke her shoulder & am so grateful to have this time with them. That's what I guess helps you cope - having made the most of the time you had and making sure they know how much you loved them. I'm sure you did those things. Best wishes to all your family in dealing with the loss.

6:06 PM  
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8:39 PM  
Blogger Kym said...

Carrie, I'm so so sorry about the loss of your Pap :( Your tribute to him was really beautiful; it sounds like you have some great memories to hold on to. You're in my thoughts.

11:51 PM  
Blogger Jessica / Fig & Plum said...

Carrie, this was a great tribute. I'm so sad for you and will keep you and your family in my thoughts :(

It's amazing to know a grandparent as an adult, but it can make it even harder to lose him. Even when the person is ill, you grapple with the fact that, on some level, you felt like she or he was always going to be around (even though of course you know that's impossible).

My grandma died last year the same day my plane touched down in NY after a visit with her. I think it was really important to her to see all her grandchildren before she died. The timing, then, shouldn't have surprised us. Your visit probably meant more to your Pap than you could ever know. And that's wonderful :)

9:46 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

What wonderful memories you have of your gandfather. I am sorry for your loss.

7:58 AM  
Blogger marie in florida said...

by the way dear; the way you have your fingers, pinching Pap's thumb? in buddhist mudra's that position indicates teaching, or intellectual arguement; discussion and/ or turing the wheel of law

hug hug again

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Esther said...

What an amazing tribute...it's brought tears to my eyes as he sounds just like my grandfather. I am so glad you had some time with him before he passed, but you are so right, no matter how old he was or what a great life he led, it doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye to someone that has meant so much to us.

I have you in my thoughts and prayers - I'm so sorry for your loss..

5:51 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

A very sweet tribute . . . sending warm thoughts and comforting wishes!

7:13 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

so sorry - he sounds like a good 'un.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Sheila said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous frecklegirl jess said...

I got tears in my eyes reading this...

So sorry for your loss, Carrie.

hugs!

8:45 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

oh carrie, I'm so sorry for your loss. it sounds like you loved him very much and it was such a blessing for you to be able to spend some quality time with him. I think that means that you should have a whiskey in his honor... I'm sure he'd have loved to join you for a drink.

hugs

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carrie, I'm very sorry for your loss.

Your Pap sounds like he was a grand old character. How wonderful to be remembered as such a man.

Your words are a lovely, moving tribute to him and he would be so proud.

2:48 AM  
Anonymous kaitlyn said...

I'm sorry for the late response and even sorrier for your loss. I'm 'so glad to hear you had a last few days to spend together.

10:54 AM  

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