They will always know you.

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It’s been said a great way to work through pain is to write about it, and this day still feels so fresh, and so full of pain. You physically left us a year ago, although the dementia took you from us long before that.  I still remember the day mom called to tell me your diagnosis, and it felt like future dreams were breaking around me like glass.  The one that shattered the loudest though, was the dream I had of watching you get to love my kids how you loved us. 

I couldn’t control that you got dementia at the age of 55, and I couldn’t control when it took you from us. What I can control is making sure that your grandkids always know you, the incredible man that you were. 

You spent a good part of your adult life around semi-trucks. Driving them, selling them, managing software for them. I still remember riding in one with you, belting out “Born in the USA”,  and feeling like I was on top of the world.  Your grandson loves them too. We shout out every time we see them, often followed by “Papa drove those!”  It puts the biggest smile on my face. 

Your granddaughter has a picture of you and her next to her bed. One of the beautiful things about kids is she didn’t notice when you couldn’t talk much anymore. You got down on the floor with her and made noises she thought were hilarious. She used to call you “my best friend papa.” I remind her of how you guys would have popcorn parties, and how she probably got her love of ice cream from you. 

We celebrated your birthday by having hamburgers together, which I know would have made you laugh. That big laugh, that felt so special when it was heard because it wasn’t given out easily. You would have joked about how you wished it was White Castle, and that will forever make me laugh.  I can’t wait to tell them about your lifelong White Castle joke with their grandma. 

One day they will be old enough to want to go golfing. and I will tell them about how much you loved to play, but you were really quite terrible at it.  Their uncle Andy will fill them in on motorcycles, and how they run deep in our blood.  We will still take walks around the pond where you walked almost every day,  and I will remind them how you always took such care of that pond, and really just anything you cared about in general. 

But for tonight, we will spend the night as a family, sharing memories and looking at our favorite photos of you. We are still just getting started with this journey of grief and living without you. Some days we laugh and smile at your memories, and other days the pain takes our breath away,  realizing just how much you are missing out on, and how awfully unfair it is.   

Those grandbabies of yours deserve to know the kind, gentle, funny man you were, and I promise you I will do everything possible to keep your memory alive. And if we happen to drive past a White Castle sometime?  You better believe we will stop for you, dad. 

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