Paw-Paw Update

I called paw-Paw the other night and to get an update. He was in good spirits despite his condition. He asked me about the site after I told him so many of you had him in your prayers and when I told him I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to write he gave me shit.

“Why the hell would me being sick stop you from writing, I thought we talked about this.”

Which was very true. We had spoken quite often on his impending death. He’s accepted it, he no longer living as he’s accustomed to, and that bothers him. He’s tired all the time. Simply going to the bathroom is a chore and wears him out. He HAS to have someone stay with him.

I’ve never been afraid to die. What scares the ever loving shit out of me is shoved in my face every time I run to the ICU to do a portable exam and see some octogenarian with IV’s and tubes having their life beep away one mechanical breathe at a time. I NEVER want to be that person. I kill scary monsters, I do NOT lie down and wait for death to escort me to the afterlife.

I’ve seen MANY people die. When Maw-Maw passed a little over a year ago, I spoke to her the day before she passed. Paw-Paw was right at her side. Maw-Maw died with all her children and Paw-Paw there with her. Just as she left us she kissed Paw-Paw. As she went to lay down she stopped, sat back up, pulled Paw-Paw to her and she kissed him again. Then she died. Married for 67 years.

For the past year and a half every time I took leave I’d go to paw-Paw’s and stay with him. We did nothing but watch TV and talk. I’d make sure he ate, run his errands, take him for drives into the city and briefly visit with my family. It was basically a huge testosterone fest as we’d watch food tv, travel channel, swamp people, history channel, and news. I’d drink my beer and he’d occasionally have one with me. But the beauty was when he’d break into a story out of the blue. Countless stories about playing piano in the city, misadventures, memories of Maw-Maw, and various tales of the family. Some I’d heard a million times before, other’s I’d never heard of.

Paw-Paw taught me that family is everything. Our family is very tight: from clan Leblanc to familia Gutierrez, we always have a good time. I look forward to holidays and family reunions. The food is amazing and we party like there’s no tomorrow.

There’s a school with no name. There is no graduation date or ceremony. Sadly, many men never make it to this school and there are fewer and fewer professors. I was fortunate enough to be related to one of its professors. He grew up in a time where being a man meant certain things. Since I was boy, I remember him teaching via his behavior, actions, and expressions. The man writing this blog is a direct result of his influence.

The conversation was brief as we’ve said everything to each other we need to. When I told him I was just sad to see the day finally approaching and he told me it approached the second the doctor slaps your ass for the first time. That every day after that is a gift to make the most of and enjoy. Then he berated me for feeling bad for him.

“Nieto, don’t mourn my passing; celebrate my life. I thought we went over this boy.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. You can always tell when Paw-Paw’s serious when there are no anecdotes, semantics or stories. This plus this equals this. But when he tells you something, you listen. He wanted me to say thank you for the prayers and thoughts. It’s very kind of you. Mom said to say thanks as well. Trust me, she’s gonna be a MESS when he goes and she’s already admitted to it.

So as sad as all this is (I haven’t been able to hold down more than 2 bites of anything before feeling nauseated) I’m quite fortunate to have spent most of my life with him and Maw-Maw. My abuelitos used to take me from my mom’s room and put me in my carrying thing and set it on the table while they had breakfast. Freaked my mom out at first. Lol. But some of my fondest memories occurred at 2208 Kansas Ave. A house that a newlywed couple bought in the late 30’s. A house that seen four generation’s grow up.

At the end of the day, Paw-Paw showed me what’s most important in life: family, food, and music. Respect your elders, set an example for the younger ones, don’t take life too seriously and make it fun, honor and hold sacred the NO Saint’s and Tiger’s, how to trap crab and crawfish, how to fish, how to make a woman tingle, and beer is good for you. When it comes to women- you don’t run into great ones often, so when you do, don’t let her go. And once you have her, keep her by practicing making other women smile and laugh. There aren’t many people he’s met that didn’t like him. I’m sure now you can see why.

me and Paw-Paw

me and Paw-Paw

Paw-Paw and the scourge of Kansas ave.

Paw-Paw and the scourge of Kansas ave.

at a crawfish boil at mom's before i left for Spain

at a crawfish boil at mom’s before i left for Spain

20 Comments on “Paw-Paw Update”

  1. CLG says:

    1) Kava Kava seems to help anxiety/nausea (its the root the yoga instructors apparently take to get them all mellow) so maybe it might help you eat some. 2) I’m at the earlier stages of going through this with my grandparents, so I feel you- Its really tough esp. if you talk politics or the news and they make some comment about being thankful they wont have to see how that situation ends. 3) my papa keeps telling me stories about La Familia, “The War” (WWII despite him serving during Korea), showed his father’s birth records (cost the family $11.15 when he was born), and I have been writing them down and its good to know I’ll have em preserved. 4) stay up

  2. earl says:

    Your Paw-Paw is the type of guy I want to be.

  3. Faust says:

    He sounds like quite a guy.
    A debilitating illness is a nasty, nasty thing. Even if you’re not dead, what you’re going through can only partly be called “alive.” The one thing that does help, even when medicines and surgeries don’t, is talking with family and friends. For those few minutes of conversation you can be who you were, and put all the awfulness out of your mind. Stay in touch with him as much as you can.

    I still don’t know how much, if anything, it’s really worth. But you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Vicomte says:

    To a Foil’d European Revolutionaire
    by Walt Whitman

    Courage yet, my brother or my sister!

    Keep on–Liberty is to be subserv’d whatever occurs;
    That is nothing that is quell’d by one or two failures, or any
    number of failures,
    Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people, or by any
    Or the show of the tushes of power, soldiers, cannon, penal statutes.

    What we believe in waits latent forever through all the continents,
    Invites no one, promises nothing, sits in calmness and light, is
    positive and composed, knows no discouragement,
    Waiting patiently, waiting its time.

    (Not songs of loyalty alone are these,
    But songs of insurrection also,
    For I am the sworn poet of every dauntless rebel the world over,
    And he going with me leaves peace and routine behind him,
    And stakes his life to be lost at any moment.)

    The battle rages with many a loud alarm and frequent advance and retreat,
    The infidel triumphs, or supposes he triumphs,
    The prison, scaffold, garrote, handcuffs, iron necklace and
    leadballs do their work,
    The named and unnamed heroes pass to other spheres,
    The great speakers and writers are exiled, they lie sick in distant lands,
    The cause is asleep, the strongest throats are choked with their own
    The young men droop their eyelashes toward the ground when they meet;

    But for all this Liberty has not gone out of the place, nor the
    infidel enter’d into full possession.
    When liberty goes out of a place it is not the first to go, nor the
    second or third to go,
    It waits for all the rest to go, it is the last.

    When there are no more memories of heroes and martyrs,
    And when all life and all the souls of men and women are discharged
    from any part of the earth,
    Then only shall liberty or the idea of liberty be discharged from
    that part of the earth,
    And the infidel come into full possession.

    Then courage European revolter, revoltress!
    For till all ceases neither must you cease.
    I do not know what you are for, (I do not know what I am for myself,
    nor what any thing is for,)
    But I will search carefully for it even in being foil’d,
    In defeat, poverty, misconception, imprisonment–for they too are great.

    Did we think victory great?
    So it is–but now it seems to me, when it cannot be help’d, that
    defeat is great,
    And that death and dismay are great.

    That’s my favorite poem. Maybe Paw-Paw will like it.

  5. ARoss says:

    Your, Paw-Paw will be in my prayers Dan.

  6. Sean says:

    Wow, it’s pretty dusty in here suddenly at your Maw-May paragraph.

  7. Mik says:

    My prayers are with your Paw Paw. Seems like a man every guy shlf have in his life.

  8. Hessian says:

    Hoping and praying for the best for him Danny. And for you.

  9. Ton says:

    All hail Paw Paw

  10. What earl said. This is a good man, one to be missed – and to be imitated, so far as we can.

  11. This really made me smile. So few remember to be thankful of the time you had and only cry over the time you wont have.

    He was a very handsome man in his days, your paw-paw.

  12. Spacetraveller says:


    You should write a book about Paw-Paw…

    Paw-paw the Great would be proud of his little Nieto…

  13. RojoC says:

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read on your blog, Danny.

  14. […] Paw-Paw passed in his sleep around 9:40 pm NO time. my alpha role model and mentor has returned to his love of 67 years. i’m not sad……just numb. he left painlessly and is back with Maw-Maw where he belongs. […]

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