Paw-Paw UpdatePosted: May 20, 2013 | |
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.