My Papa. We sit together and talk about his childhood. He makes me sing when I don't really want to. He tries to slip money into my hand when I hug him goodbye. And I hold his hand when he cries. I don't care that I'm not number one on his best friend list. I'm just grateful to make the list. He always asks me how I was able to get out of the house, without the kids, and my husband, and all the things he must think I have to do. I want him to know it is no sacrifice for me. Sacrificing means giving something up for something of possible less value. Is that the case? Not even close. I love him because he is worth loving. He's worth the 45 minute drive. He's worth all of it. I treasure those moments. And when he's gone, I'll treasure them even more.
I think about what it must be like to lose the love of your life after 68 years together. I watch him as he stares at her framed pictures on the wall. "I miss her so much," he whispers, with tears pouring down his face as I squeeze his hand. It's all I can do to not break down myself. I want to say, It won't be long, Papa, you'll see her again. But how do you say that? You don't. Instead, I cuddle up next to him, kiss him on the forehead, and tell him how much I love him.
Someday my own children will be comforting me when I'm older, and I'm sure they'll visit me and hug me and tell me how much they love me. I hope I am not a burden or a sacrifice for them, but a really cool person who tells fascinating stories about my own childhood, like my grandfather does for me. From tales of boxing, horse racing, farming, guitars and music...to growing old with the one he loved so much. It's what I will always remember about him. And I hope one day, when it's my turn to go, and the clouds part, I will look up and see a healthier, stronger, happier man standing there, waiting to embrace me. His hands won't shake, his voice won't tremble. He'll be bright and full of life. And I'll hug him so tight. And I'll ask him quietly in his ear if I'm still his 2nd best friend. And hopefully, just maybe, I will be.