Eulogy for Papa
August 7, 2007
"Come To Me"
God saw you getting tired
and a cure was not to be
so he put his arms around you
"Come to Me"
With tearful eyes we watched you
and saw you pass away
and although we loved you dearly
we could not make you stay.
A Golden heart stopped beating
hard working hands at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove us
he only takes the best.
My Grandfather, who my sister and I always called “Papa”, was a very kind and gentle man. We observed him as someone who always saw the best in people, no matter what.
For my sister and I, he was much more than a Grandfather, he was like a second Dad, and a friend. He was the one person we knew we could always count on to be there. To rescue us, to always say “I love you”, to offer hugs and support.
Papa was a bus driver for the MBTA, and when my sister and I were little, he would pick us up in the bus and take us to see the Christmas lights in the neighborhood during the holidays. I remember he seemed to know everyone along his bus route, and they all knew him affectionately as “Arnie.”
Papa retired early from the MBTA because he wanted to take my sister and I to school every day. Every day he would pick us up…. He would arrive very early, sit in his car and read the paper. If we didn’t come out at exactly the time we needed to in order to get to school on time, he would knock on all the doors and windows and say “Hurry Up!”. On the way to school we would be tormented with HIS version of the Barney song “I love you, you love me.” But those were the only words of the song that he knew…so he would just repeat them over and over again. He would try to add new lyrics once in a while, but it never worked out which would always get the reaction of hysterical laughter. He was always so happy to be with us, even if we said next to nothing to him the whole way to school.
Papa may have seemed innocent to most people who knew him, but he had a life of crime…aiding and abetting. I found out years after high school graduation that he would frequently help my sister and her friend April skip classes and play hooky. He would wait for them in a certain area outside the school…. Then he would take them to breakfast, get my sister a prom dress, a pack of cigarettes, or anything else she needed. Apparently they never told me about all this, because I would have tattled on them.
When I was in college at UNH, Papa came up to visit me every few weekends. He would take me out to lunch or dinner, and always ask if I needed anything. He always knew the score for the most recent college hockey game, and he always helped me move into a new dorm.
Papa would call my mother and I every morning, until almost a week before he died, to make sure we were awake and getting ready for work. He called me every morning at 5:30am, and my mother at 6am. He took his job very seriously. Even when he was on vacation visiting my Uncle in Florida, I would tell him to enjoy himself and not worry about calling us, but he would still call at the regular times without fail. Even when he was in the hospital, he made sure to keep his cell phone by his bed. My mother and I both looked forward to him saying every day, “Rise and shine! I love you sweetheart.”
As a Great Grandfather, Papa was very interactive. He would get right down on the floor with my nieces and play blocks with them, or do puzzles. He was like a little kid himself…in fact; he had to be spoken to a few times about letting my nieces have a chance to play with the toys too.
He had a special relationship with all three of his Great Grandchildren, but Stephanie (a.k.a. "Munchkin") the oldest, was the light of his life. He would always talk about how talented she was at skating and dancing, how tall she was getting, how beautiful she was, and most of all – how proud of her he was. Just a few weeks ago, Stephanie turned 10 years old. As ill as my Grandfather was, he came and spent most of the day with us outside. Papa sat in the shade for hours, mostly in silence, watching his Great Grandchildren and their friends playing in the pool. I remember how happy and content he seemed to be, and I know there was no place else on earth he would have rather been.
Papa always had his sense of humor. Just over a week ago, my husband and I visited him at home, and my husband fixed his telephone jack. We were explaining to him that we were able to install it, but that it was still wobbly and shouldn’t be disturbed. My mother called and I told her that if she came to visit Papa, to make sure she didn’t accidentally kick the phone jack on the floor or Papa’s phone would probably not work. Papa said, “Tell your mom that every time she hits something it costs me money!”
My mom and Papa definitely had a special relationship, which was filled with a deep affection and humor. Watching them together was often like watching a comedy routine. While he was ill, he would frequently keep track of the number of times my mother said, “Dad, are you ok?” Which was usually followed by him saying, “Why, do you see a crowd?”
I can only tell you what it was like to be Arnold’s Granddaughter. I know that he had many other relatives and friends, and I’m sure all of you remember him in different ways and I hope you will cherish and keep those memories alive. As a Granddaughter I can tell you that he had a heart of gold. He was the most loving, funny, and generous person I have ever known. There was never anything he couldn’t forgive; every argument was followed with “I love you.” He enjoyed the time with his family….no matter what crazy things were going on in our lives when he was with us, he always made sure to tell us how much he loved being with us. I will miss his smile, his contagious laughter, and his hugs.
As much as we will miss him, we must remember that he is no longer in pain. Where he is now, there is no suffering, only peace and joy. I like to think that he is eternally in the sun, watching his Great Grandchildren play, watching over all of us and still saying how proud of us he is.
Papa, I will always miss you and love you.