It was the second evening of 2006. The evening was cold and dry. Colder than it usually was during this time every winter in southeast Wisconsin. The snow was light but you can still hear cracking when stepping unto them.
As my brother, mother and I walked on the sidewalk to my grandparent's front door, we were greeted by my dad. Behind the door, my entire family were there all gathered at this one place in Milwaukee. The house had a big enough living room but not quite as much anywhere else unless you got to the basement which is twice the size of the living room. Among the family, there was even some of our family friends were there as well.
I didn't know why all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins (rather them being blood related or adopted by heart) were there but I could tell by everyone's sadden faces that something bad must have happened. I looked around the room desperately looking for someone at that current living room space. For everyone was there except him...my dear Papa.
You see, my Papa, whose name is John, never had the best health. He was always in and out of the hospital from what I can remembered a child. But none of that really matter for he was someone who I considering my mentor that I could look up to and friend I could count on.
My Papa and I used to do a lot of stuff together as grandfather and grandson. We went to the movie theaters watching new movies that came out that weekend, called the local McDonalds in order to collect all of toys from Happy Meals for me, and even went to different city libraries considering we both loved books. He loved nonfiction while I loved fiction. We would even wrestle on the couch in the living room whenever we got a chance when he was not hurting from pain with getting old as he was. I would ofter place myself on his shoulders while he rock himself from side to side leftand right. My Papa would then send me gently down backwards unto the couch. He would even count down by each side before taking me down by the count of one sending me in furniture laughing. It sometimes made my Nana, whose name is Roseann, jealous but she knew I loved her very much and we did other activities any grandmother and grandson would do. She and I used to go to the Milwaukee Brewers games, different parks and take the city bus just to go out for an adventure with the two of us.
Papa was more than just a mentor or friend though. To me I always thought of him as my hero. I was always into superheroes especially when I was a little boy. Back then I would often times take a towel and wrapped it around my neck like a cape. My little self would too often borrow my Papa's cane and use it like a sword pretending to fight evil endeavors. I would ask my papa if I was ever a hero and he would always respond: "Sean, you'll always be my hero. No matter what." Every time he said that, it made me feel like one.
My Papa had a lot of hospital visits back then especially during that time. He has been there for the longest I could remember since Christmas of 2005; a total of one week! This really concerned me and my family very much for everyone love him. I believe I had visit my Papa once at the hospital three days ago and he seemed fine. A little weak but he still was responsive and I remember him smiling on the hospital bed.
Though on that cold, dry and lightly snowed January evening my uncle gathered my little brother, cousins and I to Nana's room with some other adults telling us sad news...that Papa passed away...
All what I can remember after receiving the news was my little cousin crying unto my aunt's lap while I lowered my head as tears streamed down my face. Why did Papa had to go? I was about to finish elementary school in June and I wanted to spend more time with him that summer. My best friend and mentor was now gone... I felt this pain as much as I felt with my dog Rascal passing away a few years back. For that yellow lab too was special but that's a story for another day...
I was told that he died from a blood clot and that the funeral will be at the end of month, which is roughly a week after my 13th birthday. I can't even recall my thirteen birthday very much that year for it was two weeks after receiving those devastating news about my Papa passing away. I believe it was just a small birthday party but only with the close family.
The funeral was hosted at a veteran's cemetery near the Wisconsin-Illonois borderline and everyone who knew my grandfather pay their condolences with their hugs and tears. I barely remember the ceremony other than me crying over a river after my current lost of my grandfather. I never stop crying since that day.
As I walked pass his coffin with my parents and brother, it was all neatly presented with flowers and makeup to help make Papa look less dead, more decent. Shortly after, they took the body along with the coffin but I couldn't move any forward nor I felt like I could breathe. I needed a breather so I went outside to the front to get some air. I was completely heartbroken and felt very lost without my papa especially this very moment. Who was going to be the hero I needed the most and the mentor I can look fondly upon?
They started to lower the coffin yet I was only from a short distance away. I couldn't bring myself to move an inch. As they lowered it, I could hear my brother who was three at that time call for his grandfather, our papa. I teared up even more as one of my family members nearby comforts me in their warm embrace. I dont even remember who did it but I really did appreciate it very much. Thank you for that.
I still to this day have rememberance of my Papa. I yearned for just to spend more day with him to do the things we used to do when he was alive. When I was young, I used to write short stories about my favorite Disney characters. I had a ton of favorites as a child and I still do even to this day rather it being Disney or not. Most of the stories I wrote back then were mostly about rather Stitch or Pluto. My Papa would often read them and enjoyed them quite fondly. He would always say that I would make a great writer someday even though deep down that my stories weren't the greatest especially looking back nowadays.
By January 2017, I started to write literally after eleven full years without my grandpa. I was 25 at the time when I started to write but instead of making short stories, I wanted to make my own world and fiction novel just like C.S. Lewis did but my own take of course. C.S. Lewis and his "The Chronicles of Narnia" series really helped me back then when I lost my grandfather and the books still inspired me to this day.
It took me awhile but after dealing some hardships and encouragements from others, I managed to become whom I always wanted to be: a creative writer. So I dedicated my first novel: "The Blacksmith's Nephew" to him (my dear Papa) in the summer of 2021 for honor of him. I'm sure he would be very proud of me on what I've accomplished in my life especially that special moment.
Papa, you were and still are forever in my heart. Nothing will ever change that. You will always be my hero just as I was to you as well. I've never forgotten you still to this day as you can tell with my writing. Love you with all my heart. Your oldest grandson Sean Sorce.
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“He was always in and out of the hospital from what I can remembered a child.” from what I can remember as a child. This is really sweet. It’s great that he got you into reading and writing. I never knew my grandparents as well as this.
Thank you Graham. Gladly appreciate your word and feedback. Yeah he was the best. Miss him still to this day.