T h e A d v e n t u r e s o f C h i c a g o J o

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My Paw Paw

2003-07-01 5:36 p.m.
My little brother told me two nights ago that my Paw Paw had a heart attack and was in the hospital. They went in to do some cleaning-out surgery and he was too blocked up to continue. The next day (yesterday), they did the big-time roter-rootering and it doesn't sound like he's going to come through.

Luckily both he and I are ready for this. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer recently and declined chemo, saying that he was too dang old to spend his time feeling sick when something else would probably give out just as soon. He's been married for 62+ years, retired from GE as a top engineer, was a highly decorated WW2 fighter pilot, and has so many grandkids and great-grandkids doing exciting things. He's had a fabulous life, so there's not too much to be sad about.

While I was growing up, he was a grumbly old man who usually stayed in the garage and drank beer with the men during family get-togethers. It wasn't until more recently that I actually got to talk with him adult-to-adult, listen to his stories, and actually appreciate this walking encyclopedia with so much first-hand experience.

The last time I saw him, I finally felt the warm-fuzzy grandfatherly bond as we sat at the kitchen table and he told me about his first car, a Model T Ford. The story had me in stitches, him telling me that he didn't know that a battery was needed (he cranked and cranked and cranked instead), that it eventually got stolen at a Rice University football game, and he was driving it around when he was only 11.

His story was littered with gah-dammits and gah-dangs, and he gave no second thought to using this language with me -- supposedly one of the kids -- around. As we continued talking and our dinner plates started to empty, I asked for seconds:

"Paw Paw, will you pass me the damn potatoes?"

Without a flinch, he passed the potatoes. I shared a smile with those around, knowing that I finally understood the old man I loved so much.

Miss something?

Moving Day - 2008-02-15
Working from Home is Glorious - 2008-02-13
Speaking in Tongues - 2008-02-07
I Have My Reasons - 2008-01-25
Got an Itch, Fix it, Shine it Up, Sing it Out - 2008-01-23

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