Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Papa Ralph

Today we said goodbye to my father-in-law, Papa Ralph.  After receiving a new pacemaker at the end of September we learned that he had several lesions in his brain. The doctors told us that radiation was an option but even then we might only have six months left with him. Sadly, they were right. Despite a round of radiation the tumors grew and Ralph peacefully entered Heaven early this morning.

My heart breaks knowing that Janet has lost her husband of almost 8 years, my husband and siblings-in-law have lost a stepfather (also after losing their dad to cancer), Emily and Reagan have lost a fantastic grandfather and Ralph's kids, grandkids and great grandkids have lost the patriarch of their family.

We spent the first part of the day at the hospital with Janet and then home with her in the afternoon. I have to say, our family rallies like no other. We have been through some of the worst times with each other and consistently pull together to take care of each other. We cook, clean, hug, laugh and cry together. I think we do an amazing job in this most awful of situations.

I picked Emily up early from daycare and took her over to see everyone. She walked in and to the empty backroom where Ralph usually sits in his recliner. She peeked her little head around the corner and said "hi" and waved her hand. She did it twice. I knew she was expecting to hear him say "hey baby" and it just broke my heart knowing that she would never hear that again.  In true, sweet Emily fashion she then proceeded to hug pretty much everyone there (most people she has never met before). That little girl is something else and she has one proud mommy.

I am incredibly thankful that Emily did have special moments to spend with him, even if they were too short. When we had to switch day cares, I was stressed about what to do with Emily for the few weeks until we could get her into a new one. Janet and Ralph took care of her during most of that time. Ralph would play her the harmonica, read with her and Janet would find them asleep together on the recliner. Ralph was one of the few people that Emily would sit still with for an extended period of time. And when she was first starting to walk, she would always find her way over to him (ignoring the rest of us). That put a smile on his face like no other.  There's no doubt that they had a special connection and that will never go away.

I'm so thankful for the time and memories and look forward to seeing him again in Heaven. We love you, Papa Ralph!