Today, you would've been 88 years old. What a number! I remember a few months ago in your hospital room you told me you were going to live to be 88. Then a few weeks after that you were in the emergency room, you told me you were going to live to be 90. I think secretly I wanted you to make it to 88 years old too, but God had a better plan for you. I believe He knew that you would not have wanted to live with the congestive heart failure symptoms and I think the rest of us knew it was not something you would've done well with anyway. So instead, you lucked out like some people do...you fell asleep and didn't wake up. That's a great way to go if I say so myself and I can tell you from experience, most people only hope for the same.
But now you've gone and left the rest of us. It seems like yesterday I was sleeping in the hospital room with you. Yet, at the same time it feels like it was forever ago. There are days it still doesn't seem real, but probably because I don't live it everyday. Not like Grandma lives it...as she says, there are times where she turns the corner to go into another room and imagines you being there like you always had been. But you're not. Or the moments she gets into bed to read Our Daily Bread as the two of you did every night together and has to remind herself she's in that bed all alone now. Grandma told me she would pray so long it'd put you to sleep sometimes ;-) Somehow that doesn't surprise me. She did finally wash your guys' sheets. I think she didn't want to get rid of your smell, but I'm not certain. But as you know, Grandma is a trooper. She still stands strong, stays as busy as she ever could be, and waits until nobody's around to let those tears out. That probably doesn't surprise you either, does it?
I'll have you know that although my job keeps me running around and incredibly busy, I have never forgotten what you taught me during those last three weeks of your life. It opened doors that have made it so much easier to discuss death and dying with patients, prepare patients and families as much as possible during their hospitalization, and of course, understand what it's like to be on the other side of that hospital bed. I am reminded everyday of you through patients I meet at work and of course all sorts of little things that go on around here. Those moments always seems to be random, yet so wonderful to have those reminders. What better to have them catch you off guard anyway, wouldn't you say? For both the tearful moments as well as the joyful. I still have my moments that make me tear up like a baby, especially when I write about you. As you know, I have never had problems with letting my emotions go and I still don't.
Well, we all missed your piano playing on Christmas Eve as it was sure quiet that night. And I know that day to day, every one of your kids miss hearing your voice on the phone when you would call for changing a light bulb or fixing something up around the house. We all sure as heck miss your stories, knowledge, and listening ears. I, most of all, miss your voice every time we'd come into the house. That long "hheeelllooo." I still hear it, just more faintly. There are quite a few neat things going on in our lives that you'd be incredibly proud of and that I of course wish we could get your approval for. But Ty & I know you would've supported us no matter what and of course, you've got the best seat in the house to see everything going on down here anyway! We hope you're enjoying every moment of it.
So although you didn't make it to 88 years, we'll hold down the birthday bash for ya here! Grandma will receive a beautiful gift in honor of your 88th tonight...a very special gift in fact, one that was handmade by Ty's uncle. I have no doubt she will be thrilled as well as incredibly tearful to see how it turned out. It will be quite a surprise since she doesn't even know it's coming to her tonight.
Enjoy that HBD from above and we'll see you another day Papa Joe!
Love always & forever,
(The last time you jammed on that piano)