>> Friday, May 04, 2007

My grandfather, Frank Wampol, passed away yesterday morning. He had been battling some serious health issues since January, and finally his body just grew tired of fighting.

Papa, as I called him, was a huge part of my life. Early in my childhood, both of my parents had to work, so I spent nearly every day over at Granma and Papa's house. As time passed and I grew up, I remained very close to them. They weren't really like grandparents to me...they were like secondary parents. Any event I participated in, they were there. From 9 years of playing soccer to middle school through high school band....they were there. Never a doubt about it.

When I was in 10th grade, my grandmother was struck by a truck while crossing the street after church one Sunday night (they lived right across the street from the church). Though critically injured, she battled through, and Papa would never leave her side. She went on to live until about 2 years ago, and Papa was right there....her husband, soul mate, and now care-taker. Those years took an incredible physical toll on Papa, but he would never admit it. He wouldn't have had it any other way.

Papa taught me what it was to be a man. By example, he showed me what it meant to be a husband and father. He was the embodiment of great work ethic. If he started something, he was going to finish it, and finish it right. I remember one year when I was 11 or 12, I had a terrible bout with the flu. My teachers sent home my homework so I could stay somewhat up to speed while I was out. Well, I remember Papa coming over and making me get up out of bed every day and do that homework, even though I had no desire to whatsoever. That was just it....that work ethic again. Through the years, he would always correct me when I tried to cut corners and not do whatever task I was doing right.

Papa loved music, and that love of music was passed directly to me. Papa played the saxophone for many years....and that is why I played the sax. He was a gifted organist. Because of him, I learned to play the organ, and it is something I really enjoy. The earthly possession I probably treasure the most is Papa's organ that now sits in our living room. He gave that to me a couple of years ago, and I would not trade it for the world.

Papa was an aviator....loved flying biplanes back in the day. That is something else he passed on to me. I am fascinated with flying and aviation, and as soon as I get up the money, I have every intention of getting my pilot's licence. In fact, if I wasn't a meteorologist, I almost certainly would be doing something in the aviation industry.

So, there is now a void left behind. Though he had been ill for several months, I still don't think it has really hit me yet. In fact, I doubt it will really sink in until after all of the flurry of activities associated with the funeral are completed and things settle down.

It is those little moments that will drive home that void now. Like, the next time my lawn mower won't fire, Papa won't be there for me to call and see if he has any ideas. The next time we are in town, Papa won't be there to give my daughters their usual cup of pudding. He won't be there next Christmas morning to call and tell about all of the presents. He won't be there to talk about the latest sports stuff. And thinking of those things just makes me ache.

But, although it is tough to see in times such as this, there is a huge positive. Papa was a Christian, as was Granma, and they are now together again. There is no more pain. There is no more suffering. And, though I miss him dearly now, I can have the confidence in knowing that I will see him again. So, in that, I take comfort.

Papa, I miss you and I love you.


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