Today, for my first post, I was going to write a brief summary of our story and how I came to be writing this blog in the first place. Instead, I am writing to celebrate a life we lost yesterday: Annie’s Great Grandpa, who died yesterday at 85.
Great Grandpa (my husband’s grandfather) was the kindest and most generous man I have ever met. Three years ago I was lucky enough to have met Michael, the man of my dreams, who I am certain is the man he is today in great part of his grandfather. He’s my husband’s grandfather, but has been a huge part of my life since I met Michael. Great Grandpa has filled our lives with love in so many ways. He has not only touched his family members’ lives, but so many others, even strangers through his enormously generous heart. His donations to numerous organizations have reached and touched the lives of so many, with donations to an organization for Down Syndrome research being one of the latest on his list. We’ve been so far from him the past year after moving to Rome. And we were really used to seeing him all the time. When we lived near him, Michael and I had dinner with him nearly every week. When Annie and I were home for the summer, we visited often, but he was so smitten with her he called everyday, sometimes twice a day to see when his next visit from her would be. His apartment was literally wallpapered with photos of his three great-grandchildren.
We named Annie after his amazing wife Anne Kathleen, who passed last Christmas after a 17-year bout with Alzheimer’s. If you’ve ever read or seen The Notebook, the story is so similar to the love between my husband’s grandfather and grandmother. He moved into her nursing home when her illness progressed to the need to live apart from him. He visited her everyday, knowing very well the love of his life wouldn’t recognize him.
Great Grandpa was blind and had just recently needed to go from having caretakers during the day toaround the clock. He hated this and his lost sense of independence. His death was very sudden and quite surprising. He had a moderate stroke five days ago and we were told that in six weeks he would be on the road to a good recovery. We booked a flight for Michael to go back to the States to see him…it’s very hard being so far away. He was supposed to leave today. Yesterday Great Grandpa’s lungs began to fill with fluid and the doctors made it as comfortable for him as possible. He died early in the morning. Michael never left. We are so sad we didn’t get to see him one last time.
We are trying to celebrate knowing that after 16+ years Great Grandpa is together again with Great Grandma, but my family is hurting and we miss him more than words can say. He ended a recording of a storybook for Annie by saying “Annie, I love you and I always will!” We are so glad she will forever have this message with his voice behind it.
Grandpa, we love you and we ALWAYS will.