Thursday, October 11, 2012
We were lucky enough to meet someone very special in Traverse City, Michigan. We previously mentioned that our friend was gracious enough to arrange for us stay at his grandfather’s house while we were there. If the calendar on the wall is any indication, then Papa died in May of 2011. But his presence, his spirit is alive and well in his home. It seems as if he’s just around the corner visiting the fire station and will be back any minute. And by looking around at all the love in that house, you wish he was. More than that, the home feels familiar. It’s of an age and décor that both David and I remember from our own childhood visits to our grandparents’ homes. It even smells (in a good way) like being at our grandparents’ houses.
It didn’t necessarily feel like this at the time, but we’ve since talked about how it was something like a museum. We’ve been through other museums (most recently the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis) that capture a moment in time, and preserve history in some way. This was an entirely more personal history, but we felt its impact just the same.
We never met Papa, but here is what we know about him, after having spent some time in his home, abiding with his memory.
He was a fireman. More than that, he was the Fire Chief. At one point he was a sheriff’s deputy, and was involved with the police department as well. The man literally wore many hats.
He liked to golf. There were lots of golf mugs, and golf humor on the walls. He collected antique fire truck toys. And we think he played the vibraphone (there were a set of them in the basement). He struck us as a man who was full of jokes, laughter, and love.
He loved his kids, his grandkids, and his great-grandchildren. There were pictures of them everywhere, in every room. The photos were in places you would always see them, like above the sink in the kitchen, on the fridge, on his desk, next to his favorite recliner in the living room.
Everywhere we found little notes of love that had been given to him by people—we assume family but they’re not signed. Little slips of paper or post-it notes that said “Love you Papa!” and “Sending smiles your way!”
Thank you Papa, for letting us stay. And thank you, Brian, for introducing us to Papa.