I like this picture of my dad a lot — taken a few years back now– it shows Papa Bob with a lot of us– and he’s in great form.
He was in pretty good form Christmas Eve, too. He’d showered and shaved, put on clean jeans and a red Christmas sweater. He mixed a Bloody Mary before dinner, joked with my son-in-laws and his son-in-laws, there were kids everywhere. It was noisy and happy. He took his seat at the head of the table; ate fettuccine with smoked salmon, wine, a taste of pie (I think?Baked by his great grand daughter) — then he took a little rest on the couch as was his custom, while we cleared the table. He sat up and had a moment of disorientation. I thought he’d snap out of it. He has had moments like that before– when he is not quite with it– but then he’d come back to us. This time he didn’t. He just closed his eyes and left. My sister and I held his hands. I thought for a minute he was teasing us. (Sometimes, when I’d try to wake him up in the morning, he’d keep his eyes shut, and then nearly give me a heart attack when he’d say “I’m not dead yet.” )
It was about as good a death as a person who is 88 years old could have. As anyone could have. But he’s still just… gone. That’s the hardest. I can’t put away his glasses.
We had another big dinner following a private family service on the 30th. The old Episcopal Rite 1 burial of the dead- although he was cremated. The plan is to take him back to the family plot where my mother is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx next spring or summer. That way my other sister and his older sister, my Aunt Jeanne, and our cousins and the rest of the family (or as many of the eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren who are able to) can gather to remember him and to remember us– what’s left of the old family, and the way we all were back then and now are, without him.
“Macho Man” has left the building.
Have I told you that one of my daughters is expecting a baby in April? It’s a boy.