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And he's gone.

The last week has been all craziness and preparation, poor schooling and frustration.  After a long decline, my Umpa passed away on Tuesday...this picture, above, was of him before we left for Florida, and in the last three years, he has lost the joy and comfort of being alive.  His death doesn't seem overwhelmingly sad in and of itself- he was 91 years old, in constant pain, and missing my Grandma all of the time.  To be removed from suffering makes death a kindness.
It's what his death means to my family that makes it sad.  This is our Patriarch- a man that presided over all aspects of our family with strong opinions and countless sayings.  His generosity was unbelievable.  He valued his family- he taught us all to value our family.
When my Grandma died five years ago, our cultural decline began- at her funeral, three separate cousins confided in me that Umpa was soon to follow- he felt this way, too, and longed for it, I think, although my Umpa was not a quitter, and if there was something he could do, he would.
He was a man of quick judgments, open emotions, and both easy affection and disgust.  He was not an intellectual, but he was undeniably intelligent, and held in his mind more useful information than most people come across.  He had a businessman's drive, and a farmer's practicality.
He was a force- a character that charmed almost everyone he met.  I miss the person that he and my Grandma were together- two very different people that balanced each other out, but were complete even without each other.  They were together because they wanted to be, not because they needed to be, and I'm not sure why that stands out to me now.
On Thursday we will be going to California for his rosary and funeral.  It will be our first trip back as a family in two years, and it is a trip I have been YEARNING for.  I have not been able to find my feet here in Florida, and I want to be content, but sometimes I just want to be near my family.  I love my people, but in this region where family stands tall above all other relationships, I am always reminded that I come from something bigger, with a rich history and a strange and wonderful culture of its own, thanks to my Umpa and Grandma.  I'm hopeful that we can somehow hold on to that culture after my Umpa's death, but I'm not optimistic.
This will be a last visit home.

Comments

Abigail said…
Oh, Sarah. I am so sorry for all the sorrow. I'm sorry for the empty place Umpa filled. Your words illuminate him to those of us who didn't know him and make it clear that he filled that big place finely. I'll be praying for you and your family for comfort as you find your tether.

I love you.
al'xae said…
Sending love to your whole family!
Annie said…
Sarah,
I just read this and am so impressed, as always, with your beautiful and yet succinct way of telling. YOu draw a picture with your words, and you give insightful, rich revelation, if you will- to our Umpa!
I love you so much, and thank you for writing this!
I miss you too!

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