While my mother gathered her wits, and some necessities, my father and Pita took her to the airport. She got an emergency flight out to get there quicker. They rushed my papa into the OR, but even that was in vain. By the time all of this happened, it was the next day. Call it fate, but my mom happened to be able to meet my aunt on the connecting flight in Philly, so they could go the rest of the way together. That evening, after finally arriving, they joined my gram and my papa.
I rushed over to my father's because my dad is lost without my mom. I had started cooking him meals as soon as I knew she was leaving. She called us with an update, and said it wouldn't be long. I couldn't even tell him goodbye over the phone because when he was spoke to, his blood pressure would sky rocket and his oxygen would bottom out. (his living will stated he couldn't be sustained on life support, so Gram only kept him on so he could say good bye to his girls.)
I was devastated.
Knowing there was nothing else I could do, we went home. Just before we got out of cell service my phone rang. It was my dad. He told me, the three said their good byes and my papa went to be with our Lord. I was thankful in that moment that he was no longer suffering, but I was angry. It was so sudden. He was seemingly healthy. He had been fishing with his buddy all day, and came home and that was it.
The darkness in the car was a God send, for I hate people to see me crying. I turned the radio up a bit and wept. I had only 10 minutes before we would be home, and Liam can't stand to see me cry. (Supposedly autistics lack empathy, but not my kid.)
I explained to Liam that great papa was gone. He knew the outlook was grim. We prepared him from the get go. His therapists were even ready with a grieving plan in the event that he needed it. He didn't it. Oddly, my son is sometimes so much stronger than a child should be.
Out of nowhere, tears would start to slide down my cheeks, and I'd try to wipe them away. Liam would notice. He would stop what he was doing to comfort me. He's always been a little man in that respect.
At this point my father was losing it. He's never been away from my mom, only ONE time in their almost 30 years of marriage. He wanted to be with his wife. Comforting and consoling her. We decided that we would drive him down in his car. We would stay just two days and come home with his car, and he would come home later with Papa's truck.
The trip was long. Much longer for my father. We finally arrived in Virginia, and gram, mom and Aunt J seemed to be in a great spirits despite. It was a hard couple days. I was afraid to say the wrong thing and make more memories for my gram or my mom. I stayed pretty quiet, just taking it all in.
For Liam it was exciting. We don't go on trips often, let alone so far. We were staying in a hotel. We took him to see the beach (even though it was freezing.) I said my goodbye to papa on that beach. That was where his heart belonged. He and gram vacationed on this island, LONG before they lived here. Finally retiring to their dream town. My papa spent the majority of his days fishing the surf. Gram in her chair, reading in the sun.
(Papa and I circa 1989)
We went back to the island this summer. This time with my sister and my brother. It was a melancholy experience. Seeing his office, where his truck sat, and where his boat rested, was hard. Pita calling gram on speaker phone to go visit her, and the machine picking up, with HIS voice, that was soul crushing. For a second my heart stopped. It was like I forgot he wasn't with us. I lost it.
The beach was different. It was like he was there. Watching over us all as we frolicked in the surf. Smiling down as we laughed and enjoyed each other's company. (the first time we took Liam to the beach there, he was not quite 2. Poor papa was a nervous wreck watching him run to the waves with wild abandon. And the quietest, kindest man that I have ever known, actually cussed at some fishermen for fishing to close to his grand kids and great grand son. I almost died!)
The one thing Liam wanted to do more than anything that vacation was to fish. To be like his great papa. And fish we did. All but one day that child had his pole in the water. Of course, great gram brought him his very own deep sea fishing pole. I know my papa was proud!
Liam is now in love with that little island. And so am I. Grammy is still there, with my aunts. But so is grandpa. His heart, and his memory resides on that little island as well. As I sit typing this, tears pulsing in my eyelids, I long for the day when I can visit him again. When I can sit with grammy in the sun, and listen as she tells us stories of their time together.
In loving memory of Papa Ross.
Forever in my heart