Monday, September 8, 2008

Papa Sam

The following are some notes I took during Papa Sam's last days. I'm sharing these as a way to continue the healing process of loosing a very important man in my life and the lives of my family. I wish everyone can experience and feel love the way Papa Sam loved his family.

Friday August 1, 2008

I went to visit Papa today. We had just seen him last Saturday, but we know even more now that his days on this earth are numbered. We had a short, but very sweet visit with him on Saturday in the Atrium at Fashion Island. He had wanted to go down there for breakfast and coffee as he and Nana had done so many times before. Mom and Kitty were happy to help him walk down the stairs and take him and Nana there. When we got there Joseph, Cathy, and Tanner were there, as well as Wendy. Nana and Papa were talking with friends that I assume they knew from their frequent breakfasts there. It seems like the two of them make friends where ever they go. We all sat around and visited. I knelt next to Papa for awhile and spoke to him as he admired his great-grandchildren. I have always loved seeing the joy on his face when he looks at his family, but mostly when he looks at his great-grandchildren. He just beams with love. You can tell just from his eyes how very proud he is of his family. It soon was time for Mom and Kitty to take Nana and Papa home. He just looked so good. I know now that the Lord must have given him the energy to come out that special day. The news he had received just the day before seemed impossible. Papa has stage 4 lung cancer. The cancer is already in his bones and his liver and the doctors do not see much hope.

Only a week has gone by since he was diagnosed. So many changes in only one week. Papa’s body has gotten weaker by the day. He has good times and more difficult times. His family is all around him. Mom and Kitty have been staying at their house and Marylu came in earlier this week and is staying too. The three of them are coming together, as a family should, and taking care of their parents. It’s such a beautiful thing. They are facing this together as a family, as support for one another. They are going through one of the toughest times of their lives, but they are leaning on each other.

I have wanted to drive down and see papa the past couple of nights, but today was the day that the Lord wanted me there. Dan was working so I took the kids. We walked up to the door and I looked through the window to see my Mom, Kitty and Marylu all seated at the dining table together. The Team. That was such a touching sight. I’m not sure exactly why, but it really touched me. Mom met us at the door and took the kids and told me to go on in and see Nana and Papa. I walked into their large airy bedroom to see the most beautiful picture. My Nana was lying on her bed with her head where her feet should be. Her arm was outstretched holding papa’s hand. He was reclining in his hospital bed next to her. She had turned her bed around so that they could face each other. I went straight to her and gave her the biggest hug. It felt so good to just be there with them. They have the most gorgeous view from that room. One whole wall has windows that look out toward the ocean. The sky was so blue and there were white puffy clouds in the sky. The light was so perfect in that white room. Papa welcomed me in and I went to sit at a chair that was at his bedside. I can’t get over how peaceful and lovely he looked. He had no shirt on and his tan skin was so beautiful. His hair looked longer than usual because it was not so brushed back as I usually see it. His dark hair is so handsome. He had a bit of a 5’o clock shadow going and that even looked good on him. He held my hand and we talked. We talked a little about the visit we had had just the past Saturday. We talked about the kids. He wanted so badly to see them, but he had told Nana previously that he didn’t want the great-grandchildren to see him. We wanted to honor that request, so I didn’t bring them in. Nana talked about so many mornings when they woke up how Papa wanted to hop in the car and go see Tanner and then come see Zachary and Emma. He just loves those kids so much. I think he just feeds off of their energy. Papa asked for his water that was next to his bed and I gave it to him. I remember feeling pleased that he asked that of me. Such a small gesture, but I just wanted to do anything I could for him at that moment. All his needs seemed to be taken care of, so that little thing really helped me. While Nana and I talked, Papa seemed to drift in and out of sleep, always with a small smile on his lips. I really can’t remember what all we talked about, but it was such a relaxing visit. It was so nice to be alone with them. I finally asked if I could pray with them before I left. They both said that would be wonderful. We all held hands and I prayed to our Lord to bring peace to that house. I prayed that He would be with Nana and have her feel His arms around her. I prayed that he would be with Papa and have him know how much he is loved and what he has meant to our family. I prayed that we always remember to count our blessings. Nana was resting her head on my hand that she held and Papa was squeezing my hand over and over. He was just so relaxed and peaceful. He laid there with a smile the whole time. Papa thanked me for praying and then started to say something, but I just told him how much he has meant to me and how much I love him and how much we all know he loves us because he always told us that. I told him that I have learned from him to tell my loved ones that I love them as often as I can. He just put his head back and smiled at me and nodded his head.

I want to hold on to that feeling in that room this afternoon. I don’t know if this is to be the last time I am in a room with Papa, but if it is I just want to be able to go back in my memories and savor those precious minutes. I know that Papa understands a bit of the impression that he has left on my life. I am sure that that impression will continue to grow as the lessons he has taught me will continue to be learned.

Tuesday August 12, 2008

Dawn called. She had just left a little over an hour ago to go back to Nana and Papa’s house after spending the night with us. She told me the news. Papa has died.

He died moments before she got there. Nana Sue had just gone to look at some photos with mom on her computer and my dad had arrived for a visit. My mom asked him to come see the photos, but he wanted to see Papa first. He went into see Papa and witnessed Papa’s last breath. It was as if Papa was just waiting for him to be there to handle everything. It was a day of so much sorrow, but also of so much joy. My initial reaction was just stillness. I had just put Zachary and Emma down for their naps. I didn’t want to disturb Emma while she was sleeping, but Zachary was still awake. I went to his room and lay in bed with him. I gave him a big hug and told him that Papa Sam went to see Jesus today. His reaction is one I will never forget. He looked at me with his big brown eyes. Excitement, not sadness, came over his face. “Really!!” he said. That was met with another big hug. How did this 5 year old boy know just what I needed to hear? He was so excited that Papa Sam was with Jesus. Stories from that day trickled down to me in the days to follow. I learned that Nana Sue, mom, Dawn, Kitty, Scott, Wendy and Nathan all ordered pizza at Nana and Papa’s house and had dinner together that night. They watched an extra beautiful sunset together from the house. Wendy said that Grandpa Bunny Bunny must have painted it. That was so poignant to me being that it was a book introduced to me in Nana Sue’s arms when I was very young. After it got dark, they saw fireworks down by the Pavilion. It was so strange that there were fireworks in Newport on a Tuesday in August. It was just another sign of celebration. I would say that Papa is still sending us signs that he’s with us, but I really don’t think that is true. Papa is in an awesome place now, and quite honestly I don’t believe he is worried about us. I do know that in just an instant we will be with him. I think that our Lord is sending us helps. I think He knows just the comfort that we all need and He is providing that for us. I also believe that these “signs” are only beginning. I believe the best is yet to come.

Papa Sam meeting Emma for the first time

"Sam Francisco" The City that he loved!


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,
What a beautiful way to remember Papa. Nathan and Wendy will love to read it. Thanks for adding this special time of our family to history.

Ditto to all that ML said. Mom and Dad were the best example of LOVE to all of us. Although we will all miss him terribly, he will never be far from our hearts.

The picture you sent me August 12 (me and Dad on my 50th) made it out to all my friends the next day and is on my wall at work (I'm working on getting one framed). Thanks so much for documenting that perfect moment! I know it's not very much fun to be behind the camera at times, but your pictures are always appreciated and so very special. Thank You!!!!!

Love the schooling days. My favorite is Aunt Dawn with the "first day of school dance" in the background!

Hope all is good.

Amy said...

Thank you Kitty! I just felt this was a good way to get out some of the feelings I've had inside lately. There were no words to describe what I felt that day when I visited papa, but I thought this may help me remember the feeling I had.

As for the picture... it just showed your joy that day!! Here's hoping I look half as good as you when I get there : ).