My first memories of you date way back to elementary school.
I was a young, impressionable boy who would stay at your house on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.
Though you were at work, I could see you standing. Without a walker. Without a wheelchair.
You’d walk in the house with your dark grey trench coat and a hat perched upon your head. I remember seeing your maroon car pull alongside the street, and watching you walk up the sidewalk.
There was no ramp at that time.
You’d come inside with that smile, one that will be etched in my mind forever, and yell “hey” with that deep, pure voice.
What followed was the big hug, all three of your grandchildren grasped in your arms.
I remember sitting on your lap and watching Animal Planet. I remember talking about the Red Sox with you all the time. I remember going to the beach with you, and you would walk with us.
There was always something about the way you could make me smile. You still do to this day.
The jokes are endless, but it is the mere facial expressions and joy that you bring to my life that will last forever.
It seems like ages ago when you fell for the first time. But you always got back up. You always kept going.
I see pictures of you, of us, and you were standing just fine. Even when the cancer was diagnosed, you still stood strong.
You made me strong.
I’ll always remember when I was in eighth grade, trying out for the school basketball team. I didn’t make it the year before. With your cane in hand, you pulled me aside to the kitchen, whispered in my ear and said, “Go kick ass!”
I did, all because those three words rung in my mind the entire time, and I made the team. For you.
And now, it is you who is kicking ass. Although the cancer looms, and your body is giving out on you, you’re still there. Making me smile. Making me proud. Challenging me to be the best person I can be everyday.
Even while you have the walker, the wheelchair, the ramp, and the cancer, you never stop smiling.
Although your long journey is nearing the end, and I may not be there with you when you move on, the love and happiness you brought to my life will never end.
Your life may be in its twilight, but the lasting impact that you’ve left on my life is immortal.
I wish I could be there to say goodbye, Papa. I hope I will be. But if I can’t be, then this is my goodbye to you.
You’ve inspired me to keep going with a big smile on my face through it all. You’ve shaped who I am today.
And for that, I will love you forever.
For that, I’ll always kick ass.