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What Papa Told Me. Yes, There’s More

July 2, 2015

“How was your vacation?” asked a friend.papa smile

“What vacation?” I said.

“Weren’t you just down in Florida?”

Oh, that.

In the last year or so, visits to my grandfather are no longer a holiday. His mind is still sharp, but these trips have become more to “papa-sit.” He’ll be 94 in August and life has become cruel to him once again. There are moments he forgets that his body aches, that he still misses Nana or that he can’t do anything for himself. But those moments are precious and few.

papa thnks“Papa, how do you feel?” I ask.

“How I feel? How my enemies should feel,” Papa says.

The irony of his life is palpable. During his five years in the camps he barely had enough to eat, so when he came to America, is it any surprise he owned a grocery store? And now, even though his fridge is stocked, his taste buds have turned on him.

“I have everything,” Papa says, shaking his head. “And I can’t eat.”

He has a daily homecare aide, but on my visits I do the overnights. I have the routine down. After dinner, mostly a protein shake, he watches TV in his special chair, me at his side ready to get him water, a warm compress for his eyes or to assist him to the bathroom. Every day is a struggle, every basic human need requires help.

“Sometimes I think take me away,” Papa says. “It’s enough. It’s enough.”papa young

At nine we check his sugar one last time before bed. These are the nice moments, quiet, another day done. One evening, the two of us were in the kitchen, him slowly eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream to raise his sugar before sleep, and me pointing out the window.

“Look Papa, there’s a full moon.”

Without turning around, Papa continues staring into his bowl of melting ice cream. “It’s looking down here, how the people are,” he says.

“And how are the people?” I ask.

papa ice creamHe looks up at me, slightly confused by the question, then his face softens and he shrugs. “How should dey be? Fine I guess.”

We sit a little longer. Papa, squinting through eyes that are beginning to fade, scans the refrigerator of pictures of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, his “dividends,” he calls them. I watch his expression and a hint of a smile appears. I know that smile. He’s proud.

“Without education, without college, I did it,” he says. “I did it my way.”

Yes, Papa, you certainly did.pool


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  1. Richard Aberson permalink

    My definition of life is Irony. As I have repeatedly said, your Papa is a true Hero and his most important legacy are all the Dividends he is responsible for creating.

  2. Joe F. permalink

    You had me in the first paragraph. God bless you Felice. Daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters are God’s rewards to us grandparents.

  3. Marilyn Solomon permalink

    You are a wonderful grandaughter! There should be more like you. Love this post! Just stay as sweet as you are. Hugs to all!😍💞

  4. Marilyn permalink

    The pictures are also great!

    Sent from my iPad


  5. Sharon Lustgarten permalink

    Beautifully written… Sorry I didn’t get to see you much this past week. I know for sure, your poppa is so happy when you visit. You were all he used to talk about. You both have a special bond with each other and that is so wonderful.

  6. Phyllis permalink

    I love reading the stories you write about your papa. Thanks for sharing him with me!

  7. Alexis Fishman permalink

    beautiful, felice.

  8. Eddie McGarry permalink

    Great Read!!! Thank you for posting!

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. Tom Olverson permalink

    I am always captivated by the pathos of every day life you encounter, Felice! Well done!

  10. Beautifully written, as always.

  11. Auntie M permalink

    AW, love it & you.

  12. This is a beautiful piece. I am personally dealing with the aging of my parents and father-in-law. Your care and nurturing are lessons for us all. You ARE his dividends.

  13. How much do I love that man?! What an amazing life he has lived. Hope you are well!

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