My favorite picture of them.

She says she won't ever forget him. She still regularly draws pictures of them together, of him alone in a field of grass, of him "as he looks now, wherever he is."

She looks at photos of him while teaching her sister to say the word "Papa", the name she gave to their grandfather who left us a year ago today.

Note the Scotch Tape all over this very good sport of a Papa.

We didn't know he wouldn't be there for more trips to the zoo, more Christmases, more birthdays. We didn't know our last visit with him was the last.

His gentle hand on her shoulder gets me every time.

She says she won't forget him but we know he'll fade in her memory. How can he not? She was four when he died.

I want her to remember how he used to lovingly call her "Zo", how he read her stories, covered in Scotch Tape because she wanted him to be "Tape Boy", how he spent half an hour in the bathroom with her when she was potty training and sang to her while she sat there.

And what can we say to E, who will surely not remember him at all? There is only one set of photos of him holding her, and I remember so clearly having to rush to get the camera to take them, because she clingy at the time and was sure to start crying at any second.

I am so grateful I got the camera in time.

She will hopefully see his smile and know something about his character and his love.

My father-in-law so loved his family, and while we grieve the loss of his presence in our lives, I grieve too the loss of his presence in his granddaughters' lives.

We've gathered here in Vermont, alone at my parents' lake houses, to remember him. We're eating his favorite foods, baking his favorite cakes, looking at pictures, lighting candles, telling stories, laughing and crying. Every time someone calls for "Dad" in this house, right now, it is my husband who answers, bittersweetly, all of us wishing he wasn't the only Dad here, now.

This time of remembrance is for his wife and his kids who miss my father in law daily and deeply and will do so for the rest of their lives. It is also for his grandkids, who may not remember him much at all.

We are teaching them to grieve, as we stumble through it ourselves.


Sarah said...

Love to you and yours today. And if it helps at all, I never met either of my grandmas, but my parents both talked about their moms so much, I still feel like I knew them, somehow. I know that I look more like my maternal grandma than I do my mom, and that I can thank her for my small waist AND my thick thighs. I even know the stiff way she gave a hug thanks to my mom's laughing demonstrations (apparently Grandma was not a touchy woman.) So, you know, I think if a person was loved, they live on. Trite, but true.

Nik-Nak said...

That is beautiful. And they'll remember him, through you.

Beyond Diapers said...

Made me cry! Enjoy your time remembering with your family.

Alice said...

Sarah is right - their Papa will live on through you, through these stories and pictures and blog posts and memories. It sounds like everyone who had Papa in their life was lucky :)

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Oh Sarah, THANK YOU. I can't tell you how soothing your words are to me.

momof3 said...

it is so true what Sarah said. I think it is also so special that both of your families are together to share this time and remember such a special man. What a gift you are giving your children.

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