Sunday, December 21, 2008
This is my grandfather which we grandchildren called Pupa. This picture was taken while I was first pregnant with my second child, but didn't know yet.
He was a most wonderful man to me. He always had words of wisdom such as "You have a dollar in your pocket, you have many friends. You have no dollars in your pocket, you have no friends." He would always greet you with a "Hello there" which sounded like hello der. He was from Puerto Rico. I looked up to him. Growing up, he would make me breakfast EVERY day, such as scrambled eggs, toast, coffee and orange juice or cereal (even mixed types) with coffee and toast...I had coffee and toast almost every morning (beginning at the age of about 7). He truly believed that milk and orange juice was not a good mix for anyone's stomach and would make you extremely ill.
He was a believer in walking. He taught me how to play tennis and was my coach for many years. There was ALWAYS enough room for me at his home when I had hard times. He would always pay you for any favor you did for him. He spoke mainly Spanish, but when he moved to the US, made it a point to learn English. He learned English from watching TV and reading newspapers. He also spoke French and a little Italian. He was in France during WWII where he picked up French and would use it frequently. His favorite English sayings were "Go fly a kite" and "Go jump in a lake" which he said often and would crack himself up every time.
Unfortunately, he met his untimely (in my opinion) death by collapsing on the corner of the block while on his daily walk to the local store. He had a very high fever but couldn't be stopped. Once taken to the hospital, they found colon cancer (don't ask me how...I have no idea). Things quickly took a turn for the worse with him. We did not put him in a "home", we took care of him AT home until his demise. He would frequently speak phrases that no one else understood (I still remember what you really meant Pupa). At the time, I lived 1 1/2 hour away. I got the awful call that it was "time" and I needed to get down to where he was. Me, my big, fat, 8 month pregnant belly and my oldest child immediately packed up and went to his house. We arrived late at night. My loving Pupa waited until I got a night's sleep before he passed away. In the morning, my mother and aunts said it was that time and we all went into my grandparent's room where he lay in his hospital bed. We gathered around him and held hands. I held their hands, but with my right hand, I held his. I then layed my head on his chest and told him I was there and he could go. His heart stopped beating a few seconds later.
I am grateful to have had not only the time I did when I cared for him so many years prior, but that he waited for me before he passed. I'm thankful that I had my head on his chest and he was not alone at his last moments. I'm fortunate to have had someone so special in my life to be a mentor and inspiration.
Sometimes I miss him so much it hurts. Yesterday, December 20th would have been his 96th birthday. He will be forever remembered, not only by me, but vicariously through my children as well.
Thank you Pupa for all that you've taught me, how you raised me and the qualities in me that are of you.