My wife’s “PeePaw” is 89 years old. Though I’ve barely spoken to him over the past decade I admire him. Once a year at Christmas parties or perhaps at a special event our paths cross and we exchange courtesies, but I’ve always known instinctively he was something special. One of the good ones, I guess.
This past Christmas our family gathered like always, but I could tell that something was different with PeePaw. He moved a little slower, his complexion wasn’t quite as vibrant, and it was evident he was in poor health. Having noticed this I even mentioned to my wife she should be sure to spend a little extra time with him – he may not make it to next Christmas.
Then, two nights ago my wife gets a phone call. PeePaw is in the hospital. The third such time since Christmas. He’s a strong old man with high spirits so death never seems to be able to take him. She is informed, like the other two times, this might be “it”. So she visits.
PeePaw’s spirits are high and he has no delusions regarding his impending death. He faces it and even jokes about wanting to eat nothing but cake – and does – because he’s going to die soon anyways. We talk about travel, which he informs us he and his wife of 70 years did a lot of in their youth.
He shares stories of WWII, travels in Peru, Guatemala, and his personal favorite – Switzerland. I’m amazed at the detail of his memory, the anecdotes and witty stories he shares. This man, perhaps lying in his death bed, shares stories of a life well lived.
PeePaw is a millionaire too. But I’ve not heard him share stories about his days in the office or growing his business (of which I have never heard him talk about, ever), but rather the highlights of his life are stories of exploration, adventure, good food, love and family.
PeePaw is a wise man.