Papa was a chocolate milkshake. He was sushi and a crinkly grin and a diet coke with lemon. He was old westerns and old yarns. He was a nap in a comfy arm chair in the middle of the afternoon. My benefactor and landlord for 5 years.
I can imagine him, pugnacious and tan as a nut, sneaking into the Riverside Theater as a little boy. Strong and handsome, life guarding and diving from the highest platform at Kingsley Lake. Buying his wife a yellow rain slicker for Christmas when she asked for a new coat. I remember him driving me to the first grade, sitting in the cab of his truck so proud that my Papa was driving me to school. Sitting at the kitchen table, pouring over the scriptures, glasses on the end of his nose. Telling me I was crazy for getting a dog, and then sneaking Gilligan scraps of food at every opportunity.
Papa called me little girl, or granddaughter. I will miss that. He was a man with a temper and a fierce loyalty, two things I have inherited. I loved telling him about our trips around the world, and he loved listening. A granddaughter who went to Egypt? To Norway? He was as proud as if he had gone himself. He collected. I remember coming over, and he was plopped on the sofa swinging a small ball of cord, pleased as punch over his monkey fist. He had every tool and could fix almost anything. He liked to tinker. He always wore a belt and suspenders, for good measure.
He let the little grandsons play with his special model cars. He was forever rummaging around for something sweet. He liked to tease, another habit of his I seem to have inherited. He didn't sugar coat, but he did love. When I was in the fourth grade I had to write a speech about my favorite person- it was him.
He was so sick in the end, a shade of who he had been. I will miss him with all my heart. I miss his even more for my grandmother. I know I will see him again someday.