Papa Great

My Papa passed away today and suddenly there I am, 8 years old, splashing in his irrigated lawn. Attempting to help as he tends to his garden and trees. Skipping around with cousins, eating grapes off the vine. Running and splashing until we are soaked and tired, waiting for him to make us a big glass of Tang.

There I am, 10 years old, following him on my bike to hike the falls or walking next to him on the way to the Beaver Pond with Dusty, his old dog, at his heels. Stopping to let us catch tadpoles and frogs, talking to us about nothing, yet everything. He in his element, we in ours.

My Papa passed away today and suddenly there I am, 12 years old, laying on his living room floor, bare feet on the couch with my sisters and a handful of cousins waiting for our turn for his famous foot rub. Waiting, probably not very patiently, because Grandma always gets the first foot rub. He sits on the floor and rubs her feet while she tells stories that make her cackle until she can’t breathe. Then it would finally be our turn. Papa on the couch with dozens of feet in his lap, rubbing for as long as we’d sit still.

There I am, 17 years old, pulling up a stool next to him in the kitchen as he sits watching Grandma’s bread in the oven, waiting to take it out at the perfect moment. Talking about nothing, yet everything.

My Papa passed away today and suddenly there I am, 25 years old, watching the strongest man I know crumble in grief and loss as he buries the love of his life. All of us wondering how long he can last with this broken heart.

There I am, 28 years old, sitting on his living room floor beside him as he plays with my babies, clapping, and praising, telling me over and over what great kids they are.

Papa Great passed away today and suddenly there I am, 30 years old, sitting on the back stoop with him, watching him toss a ball with Lydia and Liam. Talking about nothing, yet everything.

There I am, 33 years old, pulling away from our last visit together watching him sitting on the porch of the home he build with his own hands, tears streaming down each of our faces. Wondering if this was the last time I’d have the pleasure of being in his presence here on this earth.

Papa Great passed away today and here I am wishing I could have had a glimpse into heaven, just for a second, as he stood completely upright for the first time in decades and was reunited with his sweetheart. I can only imagine what a sweet reunion that was. I bet after their long embrace Grandma said “Damn it, Ed, what took you so long?”

Here I am listening to the rain fall outside, unable to sleep, reflecting on all of the memories and wonderful things that are “Papa Great”. Letting myself feel all the emotions in a moment of solitude. Grateful to my Father in Heaven for eternal families and for my Savior and His plan of Happiness. I hope I can live my life more like Papa Great and make others feel the way he made people feel when they were in his presence. I am grateful I got to experience his light. 101 years of hard work, love, and service to others. Edwin S. Lewis, our Papa Great, has left quite the legacy here on this earth and a huge impact on my heart.