LC Van Savage
Letter to Papa
Dearest Papa: I just can’t believe it. You of all people; you went and got Alzheimer’s disease. This is so hard to accept, Papa, a man as healthy as you always were. I’m unsure if Alzheimer’s has much to do with whether a person is physically healthy; there are new reports on that issue every year. What I do know is that it’s an unfair, cruel disease that seems to throw Alzheimer darts randomly, and the ones who get hit by them get the malady. But you, Papa, of all people. Your mind was constantly active. You read all the time. There was not a crossword puzzle made you couldn’t fill out in 20 minutes or less. You never even took a vacation; you went and found temporary work during those weeks “off” from your regular job so you could provide even more for your beloved family.
I’ve never known you to be hospitalized or even sick, and I’ve known you since 1957 when I fell in love with your son and married him two years later. Oh, there was that time when you crashed down from the top of that tall tree in your back yard while pruning it when you were in your late seventies and did some damage to yourself, but that was it.
I miss you Papa, a lot. I wrote to you all the time, but know you could not read my letters or postcards because Alzheimer’s steals even the ability to read. It takes everything, doesn’t it? I used to send my columns to you, and you’d make copies at the Masonic Home where you lived and you’d carry great sheaves of them over your arm to hand out to the residents there. You were so proud, and so was I. One of the old ladies there even asked for my autograph when we came to visit you. That was beyond wonderful and made me so happy. Thanks for doing that, Papa.
Your grandson Mark recently visited you when he had a couple of days off. You didn’t really know him, although he said he could see some recognition in your eyes. He told us you talked as if you were still in that old store you used to run, advising him to make sure it was locked up when he left, so the inventory wouldn’t be stolen. Mark was honored and happy to live in that world with you for a while.
I want you to know that your sons are doing well Papa, both happily married for a long time. Your youngest is retired now, but is running a small business similar to the kind he spent his professional years doing. He and I are still awfully happy together and have been for 57 years. We had three sons, Papa, your grandsons; Erick, Mark and Paul, all doing very well. They’ve given you great-grandchildren, Pop, four girls and two boys, terrific kids, bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh. They’re happy, smart, spirited and beautiful, and I promise we’ll always tell them all about you because we want them to grow up to be like you. We’ll make sure this happens.
Your other son David is retired now too, as is his wife, your dear Barbara, but they keep very involved with many worthy projects. Their two girls, your beloved granddaughters Lisa and Laura, are fine accomplished women and happy too.
Your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are strong and are on good, healthy paths, Papa. They’re going in the right direction and largely because of you will continue to be productive, honorable adults. You don’t have to worry about them. After all, they are your dynasty, your blood and your destiny. I promise you can always be very proud of them. All of us share the hope that these kids will be the kind of person you always were, Pop; honest, strong, hard working, family focused and decent. We will care for them the way you cared for all of us.
We all hope you’re with your cherished Marian. You are the vanished now, but never to us. Never, ever to us. We love you. LC
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