Today is my grandfather’s birthday. He’s been celebrating them in Heaven for almost twenty years now. Why do I still have muscle memory of his hugs? The safety he provided in a simple gesture is the heartspace I return to in times of challenge when I offer myself grace. I am warmer inside when I return to this space in my mind. I rehearsed it and cherished that presence of stability and unconditional loving kindness. I memorized that exchange of submission to loving presence from the time I was an infant. Less than a year after you passed, I became a mother to an infant myself. You passed away on my brother’s birthday, and we were reversed birthday twins, you 3.2 and me 2.3. How could I ever forget.
It snowed on the day they played Taps for you at your gravesite in late May in Central New York. Perhaps Mother Nature wanted to freeze that moment in time, incapsulate frozen crystals with the essence of you. To me, you were love. Straight up, unconditional love. Thank you for whistling everywhere you went, no matter the time of day. Thank you for singing Perry Cuomo, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, all the greats…By the time you left us, CDs were around but no MP3s, Spotify, or the like, to replace those classic records you used to play. I named my son after you, Papa. He’s a Cleveland fan, just like you. They’re not the Indians anymore, either, Papa, yet you know this too.
My Papa, your Papa. Who is your safe place in your mind? Pause; take a moment to breathe, enter that Papa space in your heart’s eye. Envelop yourself in a warm, non-judgemental space. A huge leap in living life from a place of egregious tenacity is returning to the safe places, even if only in the memory of our souls. You are here. You are here. You are here. That I am truly confident in, Papa. Any time I need you, you are still here.
Happy birthday, in Heaven, Papa. I hope you and Mama are dancing a polka today in celebration. You made it 57 years as a married couple here. You have much to teach us still. Love you, Papa Ray ❤