Tonight marks the 5th anniversary of my father's death. What stands out the most for me this time around is the election. Politics was one of those subjects my father and I enjoyed talking about and I know he would have been a very enthusiastic Obama supporter and even more excited about Obama's victory. So I'm sad that he didn't get to see this day. If I didn't watch the election results roll in with him, I know I would've been over at his place the next day to talk endlessly about the election, what led to Obama's victory, our thoughts about McCain and Palin, and speculation about Obama's cabinet, the agenda for the next four years, and future challenges. Basically, we would have talked the subject to death and then some and then talked about it some more. :) So I miss that, both for me and for him, because it's something we both enjoyed.
This weekend, my mother's side of the family is congregating in Ohio for a memorial service for my grandfather, who passed away this August 11th at the age of 78. Poppa was a very nice, loving, gentle man... except when you were playing cards! No, he was actually nice and gentle then, too. You just couldn't trust a word that he said. He liked to build up his hand so that he could do a sneak attack and go down and out all that the same time, leaving you with a bunch of cards in your hand. If the game allowed you to pick up cards from the discard pile, he'd sing "give me, give me what I cry for". And you just knew it was only a matter of time before you did. If he fell behind, he'd claim he was so far down in the hole that he needed a flashlight. (This was usually followed by him going down and out, sticking you with a bunch of points against you, while he worked his way back on top.) He loved puns and wordplay and the only somewhat encouraging thing about playing Boggle with my Grandma and Poppa was that they'd at least cancel out a lot of each other's words!
When my Granddad (my father's father) passed away, I felt like another connection to my own father had died, which made an already sad loss even sadder. When my Poppa passed away, I knew that I still had so much of him in so many other people. It was sad, but easier to deal with. He'd be in failing health for some time and was receiving hospice care at home. The weekend before he passed, he called all his children and grandchildren to say "I love you" one last time and I appreciate that, even if I had a hard time saying anything back. He is dearly missed. This weekend, we mourn his loss and celebrate his life.
As I sit here and think about these two important people in my life, I realize that it's not just memories that help keep them alive, but knowing them so well and being so close to them to know what they would say, how they would react, what they would do in any given situation. They live on, because they're not just stale memories that fade, but memories that return and come alive and, if only for a moment, you know you can look over and see them smiling over there in the corner of the room or singing a little ditty while you're playing cards. And you can't help but to look and smile back.
I love you, Dad! Love you, Poppa!