On April 19th my Grandpa Jake took leave of us and passed from earth to his eternal rest. I miss him so much already.
I was blessed to be with him and my Grandma in his last days. I was one of many friends and family that came to the hospice to be by his side, hold his hand, smooch his sweet, sweet face, and tell him we loved him and would never forget him and the magic that he brought with him everywhere he went.
In his last days my Grandma taught me what strength looks like. She showed us all the depth of her character. She reminded me to never shrink from any challenge, but to face it with dignity. I am in awe of my Grandma.
Jake met my Grandma when I was a baby. They married when I was as little girl. He was there supporting me at countless dancing and singing recitals. He saw me walk down the aisle to my Robbie.
Jake saw me grow from a baby to a girl to a wife with a husband of whom he highly approved. And in all that time this is some of what he taught me.
Jake taught me that love is more powerful than bloodlines and family trees. It will grow where it is planted. I has rarely occurred to me that Jake was grafted into our family tree. It never occurred to me that the kind of love my family had for him was exceptional. It was exceptional because it was unconditional.
Jake taught me that good food always brings people together. He fed us so many times keeping our bellies full with borscht, perschke, perogies, cabbage rolls and so many homemade noodles. Men of the world take note (ahem, Robbie): this was without a doubt one of his best abilities. He may have had 11 hole in one’s in his life, but his food brought more people together then we could ever count.
Jake taught me that kisses need not be given gently but with great gusto. Hugs should also follow suit. This was his love language. A smooch meant You are special to me. A hug meant I love you.
Jake taught me my worth by treating me with unrivaled affection and love. How could I doubt that I was more precious than all the riches in the world when Jake would always greet me with an ear to ear grin and top it off with the biggest hug and smooch you can imagine?
Jake taught my family that after loss there can be joy and laughter and love again. He taught us so we could remember it now.
I am so, so sad that I will never hug my Jake again or hear his gruff voice. I know he lived a long and beautiful life and I am so thankful for that. It still remains that death has a finality to it that if he had left us 5 or 10 or 20 years earlier that would still carry a similar sting.
And in his last days Jake taught me that when your body is getting too frail to fill a room, your soul will expand to every corner. His spirit brought smiles from ear to ear and caused tears to be shed knowing that a life well lived was coming to an end.
I cannot adequately describe what it was like to be with him in those last days. The room tangibly had the essence of earth and heaven. Even though I did not get to speak to him in those last days face to face, his was present in other ways. He was present as we laughed and toasted him with a good red wine. He was present as I held his hand. He was present as I kissed him goodbye.
I spent one afternoon in hospice singing to him for quite a while. He always loved when us girls sang. After singing for some time I stopped and looked right at him and said Jake, I love you. Just then his lower lip which had been hanging open for hours came up and found his upper lip for just a few seconds. It perched there for a second before returning to a resting position. I knew without a doubt he was saying I love you too Laura.
My Jake, I will love you forever.
Thank you for showing me that with openness my heart can grow to make room for anyone.
Thank you for loving my Grandma.
Thank you for loving me as your own.
Now that you’re gone all I have left is thanks and if that doesn’t say something about how lucky I was to know you, I don’t know what does.