One of my "101 in 1001" goals is to write letters to my grandfather, Papa. Since he suffers from Lewy Body Dementia, he won't be reading them... they're just a way for me to express what's on my heart.
It's his birthday today so I'm sharing this letter I wrote earlier this month.
Letters to Papa
It has been so long since we've been able to talk together.
When I visit you your eyes are closed. I'm not sure if you can hear me. I greet you saying "Hi Papa, it's Kristina." I touch your arm, I tell you again - "It's Kristina, your granddaughter." Sometimes you move a little, you squint your eyes and I think maybe you're trying to look for me. Can you hear me? Do you know who I am?
You've been in your nursing home since January 2010. I know this because the last thing you did before going in was attend my daughter's dedication. It's interesting how you spent your final days on "the outside." That one of the last things you did was go to church to see your great granddaughter blessed. If there had to be a final act, I suppose it's fitting that it was at church - somewhere that meant so much to you. That one of your final activities was to be present for this blessing.
You have been a blessing to me in my life. From my childhood, to my adolescence, to young adulthood, and now as a woman and parent. When I struggle to understand God's will in all of this, I think there must be something that I'm supposed to learn. I can't make any sense of it otherwise. I keep hoping that I, and others, will figure out what our lesson is. So that you can be free.
Something I've learned, that I already knew, is that people's value doesn't change based on how they can interact with us. You can't greet me, can't joke with me, can't even pat my arm, but you are still my Papa. You are the same Papa who could explain everything to me. The same Papa who let me squeeze into the armchair with him to sit close together. The same Papa who always loved me, and who I always love.