Today we celebrate 91 years with my amazing papa. Unfortunately he spent his birthday getting a heart cath done. But the greatest gift of all was hearing the doctor say "There is absolutely nothing wrong with his heart. He has the heart of a 50 year old" Thats some amazing birthday news.
Pop is a WW2 Hero. He was shot 3 times and one of those was in the back of the head. Its a miracle he is alive. All my life I heard stories of the war that still haunted his sleep. He talked about dragging a hurt soldier through a valley with enemy fire shooting at him. How he never wanted to set foot on a ship again because he had to "ride that thing from Hawaii to Okinawa".
I love this man more than life itself. He and my nan practically raised my brother and I. We walked to their house everyday after school. And if it was raining I knew my pop would be waiting outside the school with an umbrella. We spent just about every spring break camping and fishing with them. Spending the days swimming and fishing and the evenings playing rummy and laughing. They made sure we had whatever needed or wanted. When Nan got sick my pop went to the nursing home every single day to feed her lunch. He adored her. Sure they had their ups and downs, who doesn't? But they loved each other deeply. They couldn't have children of their own so they took in 5 of their nieces and nephews and raised them as their own. One of them being my mom who they brought home from the hospital. When they loved you, they loved you deep.
I was somewhat of a surprise for my parents. Not exactly planned, but God had a plan. And part of that plan unveiled when I was around 3 months old. Easter Sunday and it was my baby dedication. On that day my papa made the decision to serve the Lord and he never turned back. One of my favorite memories is when I was in the first grade. We had a tornado warning and all of us were lined in the hallway in the typical position with our head between our knees. I was 6 years old and scared to death and I heard a voice calling my name down the hall. When I looked up my papa was there to rescue me. He grabbed my hand and took me home. My protector. My hero.
Its hard to see him frail and sometimes confused. Its devastating to imagine the day that he passes from this earth to Heaven. But I can say that he gave me the best years of his life. He has loved me unconditionally and I have returned that love. Everyone needs someone like this in their life. Someone that you know will always be there for you no matter what. I'm a better person for having him in my life. I wish that I could just freeze time and that he wouldn't get another minute older and that his health would sustain him, but I know when that day comes he has a great reward awaiting him and I am convinced that my Nan is going to meet him at the gate and be ready to take him fishing!! What a reunion that will be.