Monday, October 20, 2008

Saying goodbye to a friend

This morning the Irish Woman and I attended the funeral of an old family friend, Bob.

Bob was the father to one of the women who raised the Irish Woman, and we count her as a mother to her, so Bob was an adopted grandfather to us.

Bob was rarely called by his name. We all called him Pawpaw, from the adults to the smallest children. My children and I met him over two decades after the Irish Woman did, and he introduced himself to us as Pawpaw immediately, and stepped right into the role of grandfather to my kids.

Bob never met a stranger, and never hesitated to help someone out. He always had a cheerful greeting for us, and loved to just sit and shoot the bull. He outlived two wives, but never let their passing away make him bitter or melancholy towards us.

Bob was always as active as he could be. He loved to fish, and I was lucky enough to go fishing with him. He was as happy sitting on the bank of a quiet lake fishing for bluegill as he was on a chartered boat fishing for striped bass. He became a favorite fishing buddy of his son and son-in-law, and the image I have in my mind of him will always be the smile he got when he hooked a fish.

When I met Bob, he had already started to fade, but was still spry. As the years went on, his memory started to fail him, and talking with him became difficult as his speech suffered. None of this changed his attitude or how he treated everyone. We introduced him to Baby Bear earlier this year, and he smiled and cooed over the baby as if he was in his 40's not his 80's.

As Pawpaw continued to fade, he was cared for by his children. They made sure they followed his wishes to stay at home, and made sure he always had his therapy and the small things that he enjoyed. He went on trips with the family, and was always around for a good conversation and to reminisce.

Pawpaw passed away this past Friday. His grandson had returned home to visit one last time, and had a chance to spend some time with him. After the visit, Bob sat down, fell asleep, and never woke up. He died in the company of his family in the home that they had made together.

Go with God, Pawpaw. The world is smaller now that you are not with us, but we know that you have moved on to a better place. We and our children will remember you always as a cheerful, pleasant man who was always happy to see us. We will miss you until we join you.

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