To J, With Love

On Saturday my J passed away. Today is 2 years since Nan-Naw passed. I know they are together again and they must be rejoicing. I know that J is walking tall, confident, and pain free once more, as he did when he carried me on his shoulders when I was a little girl. In my mind I can recognize the goodness of his passing, but my heart is still broken.

 He is part of my earliest memories. I remember he and Nan-Naw pushing me on a swing. He was behind me and Nan-Naw in front. He would tickle me when the swing went back and she would tickle me feet when it went forward. We were all three laughing. I remember the warmth of the air and the feeling of being loved. This is one of my earliest memories.

 When I went to their house sometimes I would borrow one of J's t-shirts to sleep in. I remember how soft they were and how they smelled so fresh. I remember the way it felt on the top of my feet where the t-shirt hung to because it was so big on me.

 Through the years he did so many things for us. Once they took us 4 oldest girls on vacation to the Gulf of Mexico. They bought a box of peaches along the way and Nan-Naw was trying to get us to eat the peaches before they spoiled. J would slip us cookies under the peaches when Nan-Naw wasn't looking.

 I remember him sitting on the beach watching us play in the water for hours. His bald head and the top of his feet were blistered the next day.

I remember sitting on his shoulders to feed sea gulls and being terrified as they swooped towards me. I remember "betting" on horses with him at the races.

I remember him always being there. Patient, mostly quiet, through my entire life. Grumbling a little here and there as he patiently baited hooks for us and took us to the fair and bought Long John Silver's and took us to Pizza Hut and made shelves, doll cradles, and kitchen sets for us. But always, always ready to step in and do anything at a moment's notice if we needed anything at all.

And now he is gone. No amount of recognizing that it is better for him takes away the sting of the finality of death. But no amount sting and grief now takes away the hope that I will see him and Nan-Naw, whole and strong again some day.

Thank you, J, for teaching me about love and sacrifice. Thank you for your unconditional acceptance.   

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