My grandfather died yesterday. To say he has always been there in my life is like…no duh. But I mean he has always *been there* for me. I don’t like to think he no longer is.
When I was in kindergarten and first grade he used to make me bacon and egg sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and a paper towel for my school lunch. When I grew up, moved away and had kids of my own, he always told me he loved me and was proud of me. And I knew it. I just knew it.
He called me “mija”, pronounced “mee-ha”. It means “my little girl”. My kids and I called him Papa T. It’s short for Grandpa Tony.
He bought me a 49er Starter Jacket for my 16th birthday. Oh how I loved that jacket! I still have it. It was not a Super Bowl years for the 49ers, and he tucked a note into the pocket that said, “we’ll get ’em next year.”
He passed away quietly, surrounded by family, in the home he’d lived in for longer than I’ve even been around.
And life goes on. Six hours later, Bip made his First Reconciliation. He asked to practice one more time before we left the house, just to make sure. He had a brief moment of panic as we walked up to the church when he thought he’d forgotten to make an examine of conscious. Then I reminded him that we had reviewed that together earlier in the week. He clung to my hand during most of the brief service beforehand, then lined up with his classmates to go get good with God.
When he had finished, he came skipping out, a broad smile lighting up his face. He was happy and lighter and filled with God’s goodness and grace. He skipped all the way out of church.
We came home and we celebrated with ice cream, Bip’s choice. We celebrated Papa T, who always said ice cream is good for you because it’s made of milk! We celebrated Bip, who is starting down a new path in his Catholic faith.
Life is like that sometimes. Endings and beginnings are often intertwined. We celebrate what we have gained at the same time we mourn what was lost.
Sometimes our tears turn into dancing. God can be good like that.