Miss You Everyday, Pepa.

My maternal grandfather passed away in September 2007. There is not a single bad memory in my mind of him. He was the type of person who got along with anyone. Everyone was a friend, he never met a stranger.

He was born in October 1920 in Madison, New Jersey to an Italian family. He met my grandmother and they were married in 1948. He was a racecar driver, and later flagged many races including the Indy 500 at one point. My grandparents had three kids - a son in 1950, another son in 1956, and a daughter (my mom) in 1959. They lived in Rockaway, NJ from 1961 until he passed (and my grandma still lives in the house today). My oldest cousin gave him the name "Pepa". When I was born, in 1987, I spent the majority of the first two years of my life living with my grandparents, so I was very close with them. My mom always dropped me off at their house on weekends as well when she went to go shopping and run errands.

My grandpa always had a stash of chocolate in his room that he'd share with me. When I would get something from the cupboard, we had a joke where I'd tell him to "charge it." When I was twelve or so, I had coupons for a store at the mall. He drove to my house and brought me to the mall, then proceeded to purchase everything for me that day so I could save the $50 I scrounged together over time for the day. He'd slip me $5 here and there. Anything I wanted, all I had to do was ask. He was full of energy, and always had to be busy. He absolutely adored being out in the yard doing work.

I moved from New Jersey in 2004 at the age of 17. I didn't want to go, a large reason was because of my grandparents being there. I'd be ten hours away. I visited a few times. I still remember the last time I saw my grandpa. It was June 2007 and I drove up for a week-long visit with them and for a graduation party for my cousin which also doubled as a family reunion. I had a sad feeling that when I was pulling out of the driveway to go home, it was the last time I'd see him. In mid-September I received a call that he was rushed to the hospital with hemorrhaging and was in a coma. He remained in the coma for two weeks. I chose not to come back up in that time, because I didn't want to see and remember him like that. I wanted to remember the smiling man, waving to me as I pulled away. He was always proud of me and made sure I knew.

A memorial was held for him in November of that year. Each family member was given a small gold urn with part of his ashes inside, encased in a velvet heart shaped box. He would have loved the reception after the memorial - tons of food and people reminiscing. All of his favorite people gathered around in his memory. We went back to my uncle's house and watched a DVD someone made, a compilation of pictures and video clips of him over the years.

I miss him terribly. He was the most wonderful man I've ever known. His caring nature, his easy-going attitude. He loved my grandmother unconditionally and would do anything for her, for their near-60 year marriage. He loved animals, enjoyed having a cat curled in his lap, feeding the birds and squirrels, and watching the deer at my uncle's house every Christmas. I'm grateful for all the wonderful memories we shared, and the time I was able to spend with him.
punkkitten punkkitten
22-25, F
Nov 26, 2012