During my life I have met some incredibly intelligent people always trying to impress me or teach me something. The one man who did none of these is the one that made an everlasting impression deep in my heart.
This is the story of Paul, he was much older than me so naturally being a young boy I was driven towards him as a father figure. Learning about everything from a common Stag Beetle to what plants we can eat and ones to stay away from. His method of teaching was to this day not matched by anyone in my life, partly because of who he was becoming to me.
Walks and hikes at the old Asylum lake happened every chance we got and I remember thinking one day “are we ever going to run out of things to lean about”. The answer is no, every rock had something new and every tributary a new lesson to be learned.
Paul was very active in our community church and Sunday was a day of Sabbath in his home. Going to church, lunch/dinner and a night of swinging together on the front porch swing talking about baseball and how Mallard ducks mate for life was a typical Sunday. You see “I believe” Paul had what we call today as ADD and having this issue myself our conversations were for our ears only, due to the fact that Sue could not keep up with the fast jumping from one topic to another. So begins the rebuilding of a once broken family and learning how to trust again.
I never felt second class or lesser in the eyes of Paul and Sue; in reality I was everything to them, like a couple that prayed for a child but never one of their own and the entire time knowing they had may other children, I felt it to be more of a blessing to be wanted by someone that had previously raised children. I was wanted, I was loved and it was not forced by the courts that they took me in; it was the kindness of their own hearts.
After many years I began to feel like a normal child not an abandon child and just as fast as it came a slow change began to take over. With the feelings becoming more and more uncomfortable I began to separate from them, weeks turning into months and months to years I began to get a feeling that something was not right in the house, like a feeling of déjà vu a small separation began to create a large wedge between all of us and I began to stay away longer and longer and stay with friends more and more. Going back to visit once and a while and not for very long, many years went by and we did not talk. I began to live my own life and doing my own thing.
In the late 90’ Paul had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, this was the beginning of the “nothing would ever be the same” feeling, once again my family was becoming broken. Paul was in a nursing home for many years suffering from Alzheimer’s until 2012 when he passed away from the disease. One of my brothers, my father and two uncles came from their lives and from all over the us to meet in Michigan and take his remains to his childhood neighborhood cemetery in a very small town in south IN to put him to his final rest. I put a piece of me in the ground that day as we stood next to one another remembering our story of the man named Paul.
Paul was not simply a man in my life he was my grandfather and he was for most of my early childhood my father, friend and life coach. To many others they will remember him for who he was to them good or bad I choose to remember Paul for the man he was to me.