Friday, October 23, 2009
The past few days for me have been great. Aside from the fact that I am DAYS away from seeing Josh, my wonderful grandmother came to visit me for a few days before I left. With her, she brought a ton of pictures from the past and we've had a great time looking at old photos and talking about anything and everything, but especially remembering my dear sweet grandfather. I think I will write a whole other post about him, although it would take a million to really understand what an amazing man he was.
I have only the best memories of the two of them, who I call Papa Joe and Mama Barbara. See, they aren't even my real grandparents. Years ago, when I was barely one, my father was a preacher in the small town of Lincolnton, Ga. This older couple came to visit the church and it was courteous for the minister and his family to go to newcomers houses and greet them. So we did with Joe and Barbara Carani.
Papa always told me the story of how we got so darn attached. See, he was a big man, Italian and tough. He had gotten into a car wreck years earlier and was paralyzed from the waist down and used a wheelchair everywhere. He said that to most children he was a frightening man. But when I was at his house, still in a diaper and barely walking, he sat in his wheelchair and extended his hand to me. I slowly walked up to him and just looked back and forth between his eyes and his eyes. Then I put my hand in his as if saying "I'm not scared of you big guy." And that, he said, is when his heart did flips.
From that day on, they were my grandparents. Italian and hungarian, you won't find better food. Since Papa was paralyzed it allowed him to take up a love for cooking. He and Mama Barbara would spend hours in the kitchen cooking up amazing food. Every meal was a production. I spent my summers there growing up. They lived on a farm with a pool that was built when Papa got hurt. It allowed him to exercise his legs. He taught me to swim, dive...well he taught me a lot.
My sweet Mama Barbara has taught me a lot, but now being newly married, I look at her as the true reflection of a loving and dedicated wife. She didn't plan for her husband to get hurt. He was a cop in Miami...a tough man. She didn't plan on him being so dependent on her. But when he layed in the hospital after getting out the coma and saw the extent of his injuries he said to her "You can leave and I would understand. I don't want to be a burden." And she looked at him and said "Oh, you're not getting rid of me that easy mister." So for the next 18 years she was at his beck and call. His personal nurse. She cared for him and loved him every day of his life. And she never complained. She did it lovingly and willingly. I hope to be just like her.
Here is a picture of Papa Joe, with my sister and I.