Priceless treasures held in trust—
Passed down through cheek bones.
It's when I'm quietest that the boat is really rocking. It's when I fall short of even the ability to write, that I know I've been hit at the core. Life, it seems, will do that at times. All we can do is face the tempest, wait for the rain to pass, the wind to die down, and the happy blue sky to reappear.
My grandfather passed away on March 18, 2011. It was 3:33 in the afternoon. He had been ill for two months, slowly fading from life via mesothelioma. He was 91 years old.
Papa passed away as he had lived, with the same sense of humor and ridiculous fun that characterized everything he did. Up until the day before he died, he was cracking jokes with my family and the last truly coherent thing he ever said to me was to ask, “What’s good in the family?”
Papa’s memory had not been great for years. It was faded thin, like a worn table cloth with holes all through it. Amazingly, with this irregular, spotty pattern, he only remembered the good stuff! Every story he told, every question he asked, everything he commented on was all about love, fun, and the re-telling of honored family stories. It was a pleasure to be around him. Even if I had to hear the same tale over and over again, it was fun to hear him tell it. He was animated when he talked, his eyes going wide, his arms throwing gestures. He loved life while he lived it, and then loved to bring the joy of his adventures back to whomever cared to listen.
Papa was physically big and strong and enjoyed great health for most of his life. When he became sick, they let us know the end would be soon. He lasted longer than we thought. It is my theory that Papa was stubborn. My grandmother, his lover for 72 years, agrees. Papa did not leave this earth until his body became absolutely incapable of supporting life. Only then did he let go. Left to him, he would have lived forever. He loved life and the people he shared it with that much.
My grandmother stood at the head of his bed when Papa passed away. She leaned over and stroked his cheeks while he took a few, last labored breaths. That was the truest and deepest expression of love I have ever seen. Even as tears streamed down her face, she murmured words of comfort to help him pass on. Under her touch, with her whispers in his ears, his face relaxed, and peacefully and easily he let go.
After he had passed away, my grandmother told me something that has fast become a law I will live by. She said, “What your grandfather and I had together was a whole lot of fun. I have always thought that people who don’t have fun are not trying hard enough. You have always got to try, and never quit trying, to make your life fun.”
While I knew him, my grandfather made my life fun. I was not alone; he had an impact on pretty much everyone he met. Google his name, Charlie Metro. The Internet is filled with pictures of his smiling face. Dashing and good looking, strong and charismatic, he left a legacy that I now understand I carry on.