I barely ever saw my Papa Lemons. He was my mom’s grandpa, that makes him my great grandpa. His real name was James Lemons, but everyone in my family called him Papa. We would visit him whenever we got the chance. He couldn’t talk very well; he would always give us his favorite sign, thumbs up. He is the only great grandparent I ever knew on my mom’s side because my great grandma Emily Lemons died before I was born. I wish I would have talked to him more. I know I was related to him, but I always became speechless when I was around him. I miss him.
James served in World War II. I’m glad that he survived because if he didn’t I would have never got to meet him. I don’t remember much from his house, but I think he had the hat he wore laying around. He had to be on an oxygen tank; I think that is because of him smoking. I wish I could remember more about him. He was the best great grandpa considering I only knew one of my great grandpas. We would visit him in the hospital when we got the chance. He couldn’t hear very well either now that I remember. My mom would have to yell sometimes to get him to hear us.
I remember most of the time I would talk quietly, so my mom would yell my answer for me. Every time someone would walk into his room, he would put his thumb up. His room smelled like the hospital. I don’t know much about him, and him being in his hospital room. He would always smile at us. I wish I could remember more about him. I never knew that someone from my family could be such a stranger to me.
On Christmas day, my mom received a call from her mom. My mom only heard crying and muffled sounds. She made out words from the muffled sounds. My mom started crying before she even hung up. After she hung up, I walked up to her and hugged her. She told us that he passed away; it was hard to understand her, but as soon as she said that one word we all knew. That one word was “died.”
Ever since he passed, we go to his grave on memorial day. Every Christmas, we go outside with balloons and release them for him. The reason why we release balloons for him on Christmas is because he died on Christmas day. We only release red and green balloons. We even write notes in them for him. I know he can’t read them, but it is the thought that counts.
I don’t remember the date of the funeral. All I remember from the funeral is not being able to speak. My aunt Shaya came all the way from Colorado for Christmas like she does every year. She stayed longer that Christmas and went to his funeral. We had a row of all the kids there. The row was just filled with tissues.
After the funeral, my grandma, Marcia, got his flag since she was his daughter. I don’t remember, but I think she also got his uniform. She keeps his flag on display in her hallway. She has pictures of him hanging there also. I got a little bear that had a magazine in it from him after the funeral. I have something to remember him by. I believe, I got that from helping clean his old apartment.
There is so much I could remember, but I can’t. Christmas isn’t the same anymore. I miss him. I hid sometimes in the hospital, so I didn’t have to say anything. I was always so nervous around him. I knew that he was family, but he seemed like a stranger to me. If he was still alive today, I would talk to him more. He would be 95 now. He was alone in his apartment; everyone would visit him, so he wouldn’t get lonely.
Papa was amazing even though he could barely talk or walk for that matter. I know he is in a better place now. He watches over me everyday. I know he is happy now. He doesn’t have to suffer anymore. I still wish he didn’t have to die the way he did, but my grandma said that he died peacefully.
Even though he died peacefully, he still suffered before he died. If I remember correctly, he could barely move. He fought for our freedom, and he was fighting for his life after he came home. Papa will always be remembered. I wished I got to tell him that I loved him for the last time.
Christmas is coming soon. Christmas day will be the day, I grab a balloon and head outside and send one for him. It’s hard on our family every year, well for me atleast. It is hard to see my grandma get teary eyed. We all loved him very much. I will remember him forever, hopefully. He may not be here on Earth, but he is here with us in our hearts. He will always be loved.
It hasn’t been very long, but it feels like forever. He is in Heaven now, a better and happier place. He doesn’t have to go through anymore pain. Christmas is never the same, and it never will be. I wish, I could see him one more time.
As the days go by, I still think of him, even though it doesn’t seem like it. I have so many things I wish I could tell him. He gets to be with his wife, Emily Lemons, everyday now. It is hard knowing someone that was loved passed away. For the last time, I love you Papa.