Last night my grandfather breathed his last. I was not able to hold his gnarled hand, could not sing songs of kindness over him. I prayed. Oh, I prayed. But I grieved from many states away.
I gave him the name Bopo, which then became his grandfather name–all the grands called him that. And he gave me the nickname Boatsie because my name is Mary and Elizabeth, and if you put Queen in front of either, you have the names of ships.
He loved ships. A navy man in World War 2, he flew hellcats off aircraft carriers in the Pacific theater. He was of the greatest generation–compassionate, hard working, funny, industrious, kind. He worked for Boeing, loved Nana (my grandmother) fiercely, and valued time with his three children.
But something stands out to me as I type this.
In the mid 90s when I wanted to be a writer, I could not afford a computer. I didn’t know how to get one, and, eventually, I approached Bopo with a request. (I was nervous to ask.) “Would you be willing to loan me money to buy a computer,” I asked.
Immediately, he smiled and said yes.
I began publishing then, and I paid back that loan quickly. Bopo was the start of that–the kind of man who believes in others, cheers them on, and applauds when they succeed. I am the legacy of his kindness.
He leaves a gaping hole. He lived all 98.5 years of his life–generously like that. Because I was fatherless (I’ve been so now for 45 years), he shared walking me down the aisle when I married Patrick.
So today marks the loss of another father, a grief that leaks out in tears, then sobs. I miss him already.
All I can do is write my pain and marvel at his belief in an unpublished Boatsie with a dream. The night he passed was the night my literary agency birthed. Death precedes resurrection, but oh what a grief.