RIP - I Love You Bumpa!
A Letter to my Grandfather - My Eulogy to him today...
This is a letter I wrote, about a year ago, to the one man in my life that I knew, without a doubt, I could always count on. He was my gentle giant when I needed compassion, my stern voice when I needed discipline, and my absolute proof that true love existed! This letter is for you Bumpa....
I can’t stop thinking about our visit yesterday. You looked so frail, so fragile, and so, so, small. But you said something to me, in the middle of that visit, which put everything into perspective. You looked at me with a hint of recognition and said “I can’t complain…I’ve lived a good life!”
That statement alone knocked away any sadness I was feeling for you, allowing in a flood of wonderful memories of the great life you did have, and all of the times I got to share that life with you.
You have always been my hero…for as long as I can remember. You were the one man in my life whose feelings for me I never had to doubt. There was never any question in my mind as to who you (as a person) really were, and what you stood for. You always seemed like a strong, gentle giant.
The funny part of it, though, is that Nana always seemed to have the power. Whenever I saw the two of you together, she was the one in control. She was the person who ran everything…at least that’s what I thought as a child. I never realized until after she died that you had relinquished that power to her…that all you needed from her was her love, and there was nothing you wouldn’t have done for her. You loved her that much!
I remember you telling me the story about having walked 17 miles to have your first date with Nana. You were angry with me that day (or more so, with my boyfriend at the time) because I was begging Mom to let me borrow the car to pick him up a couple of towns over. You said “If he cared enough about you, he’d find a way to get to you himself…that’s what I did to see your Grandmother.” But shortly afterwards Nana ratted you out by informing me that your first date consisted of you borrowing your brother’s car to drive her home from a fair. So you told a little white lie…I guess you loved me that much!
Do you remember the day you yelled at me for going into your fridge for a pickle without asking? I do, as clearly as if it were yesterday! You walked into the kitchen and caught me with my hand in the pickle jar. It was the only time you ever yelled at me, hollering “You don’t go into other people’s fridges without asking…that’s not polite!” You scared the heck out of me that day. Fast forward a couple of decades and I was sitting on your couch watching TV while Nana crocheted. You walked into the living room and asked if I wanted an ice cream (probably because I was eyeing the one you were eating.) When I quickly answered “Yes” you gave me a puzzled look and said “Well then why the heck didn’t you just go in and get one?” A little confused, but excited at the same time (because I no longer had to ask) I went into your freezer and got my own ice cream! You have no idea how privileged I felt because I no longer had to ask permission to go into your fridge...even though I was in my late 30's!
I can't even count how many times I followed you, and everyone else you could wrangle in, for a game of backyard bocce. We would spend hours going around in circle, chasing that little white ball. It wasn't until I married an Italian man that I found out, that my entire life, I had been playing the Lithuanian (Your) version of bocce!
Gosh, I still remember how mad Nana was at you the day of Uncle Jim’s wedding. You had had one too many Manhattans (Straight Up), but you were so funny, and so goofy…and boy, was she fuming! I think she scared me, more than you did, when she was mad. I rarely saw her angry, but when I did she was a force to be reckoned with…and you just stood there and listened to her, without ever flinching…just like a gentle giant! To this day I haven’t met a man who can compare to you....you set that bar pretty high!
It broke my heart watching you mourn after Nana passed away. I had never seen anyone so lost before. Although I knew, because of all of the pain she had endured, that she was much better off, I always wished you could have had a little more time with her. But that was 10 years ago! And to hear you say yesterday “I can’t complain…I’ve lived a good life” was exactly what I needed to hear from you of all people. You have always made me feel happy, loved, and especially lucky to have been born into this family. But yesterday you gave me one more treasure to carry with me…you shared with me your immense sense of pride, which to me was just as powerful as the unconditional love you shared with your family! I want to live the remainder of my life as gracefully as you have lived yours, and you are still my hero!
I love you Bumpa!
And, in answer to the questions that I'm sure you're asking right now:
- Yes, I know how old you are...almost 96!
- It took me about 2 and 1/2 hours to get here.
- I now live in New Hampshire, and
- I'm sure this question was exclusive to me in the past decade or so "So who are you married to now?" -- Well, his name is Larry, he was privileged enough to have met you a couple of times, and he definitely meets the very high standards you had set (in my mind) as to the true definition of a good man!
Rest in Peace Bumpa, and please send my love to Nana and Uncle John!