Ever since I wrote my “honoring grandma” and “honoring grandpa” posts, I have wanted to write an “honoring papa” post, and also one to honor my grandma on that side of the family. Papa was my Dad’s father. He passed away as well, but I did not know the date. Instead of asking my Dad, I just procrastinated, and put it in the “to write later” file in my head.
But now is the time:
Papa always lived far from us, and came to visit only once when I was too young to remember so I did not know him at all for the first half or so of my life thus far. My parents took us to visit him three or four times where he lived in Florida when I was a teenager, so I was lucky to be able to meet him. He was a good man. It seemed to me that he was a little rough around the edges, but had a deep heart and soul. Looking into his eyes was sort of like looking at the stars on a clear night. There is so much out there and it seems to extend forever. I was not able to be there when he died, but I am glad that I knew him. Here are some things I remember about Papa:
– Papa loved Coke
– He was a very talented gardener. The first time we went to visit him in Florida, I loved following him around the garden in his backyard. There were the most beautiful flowers and lush green vegetation. He spent a long time tending to each one. I still look at pictures I took of him from behind with his watering hose in hand. He wanted us to come to a flower show with him. I do not remember if we went or not. But I hope we did. It would have been a good opportunity for him to share one of his passions with us.
– Papa introduced our family to Mentos. None of us had ever eaten them before, but we all do now.
– I remember the way he spoke. He had a deeper voice and a slight “accent.” Sometimes it was difficult to understand him because he blurred some words together.
– I remember his weathered skin. It looked and felt like he had worked hard his whole life.
– The first time we visited him, he met us at Disney World for a day before we drove down to Fort Myers where he lived. We went to Epcot, and I got to ride in that big ball with him. The entire time he talked to me and shared his knowledge. I loved it.
– I remember Papa’s chuckle. It was a little higher pitched, and it made him sound like a child again.
– Papa had very white hair. His beard was also very white.
– He had a twinkle in his eye, and this sly grin on his face sometimes that made you think he was always “up to something” or telling himself a funny joke.
– Although we did not hear from Papa very often, he was very loving and affectionate when we were with him. We got lots of hugs and kisses.
– I remember seeing Papa for the first time. I hadn’t even seen any recent pictures of him so I didn’t know what to expect. My family was to meet him inside Epcot. I remember my Dad all of a sudden walking faster and with more purpose. I looked around trying to see where he was going, and realizing right away who it was. He was tall and a little lanky. A true Bartle man.
– Papa was very good to his neighbor lady in Florida. I remember watching them interact when we were there visiting. They exchanged produce and grand kid stories. They took care of each other.
-Papa wore very large sunglasses.
-Papa treasured my letters. Around the age of twelve or so I decided that I wanted to write to him regularly. I wanted to know him. I never really got anything in return, but when we met in person he thanked me for them and my grandma, Bea, told me how much he enjoyed them. I continued writing letters to him faithfully until he passed away.
It’s harder to write about Papa because I had such limited time with him. I hardly knew him. But he was part of my family, and therefore, part of me. I always loved him, and I always will.