I am thankful for Bumpa.
On November 25th, 2008, Bernard A. Booker, known as Bumpa to my family, passed away after a brief but fierce bout with cancer. I can’t write “fight”, because after the initial diagnosis, Bumpa, age 85, decided to preserve the quality of life, rather than quantity, and live out his remaining time without dealing with hassle of chemo. It’s a choice I respect and hope that I will be as brave someday if faced with a similar choice.
Today is the memorial service. It seems a little weird to say I am thankful that it is on a holiday weekend, but it means that everyone in my immediate family can be there. I’m not really sure what to expect from today, except that I will cry, console other crying people, and watch other people who I don’t know, but who knew Bumpa cry too. It seems an odd way to mourn a man who was a decorated WWII vet, classic curmudgeon, grandfather extraordinaire, and avid outdoorsman. If I wasn’t bound by family duty, I would hike up Bauneg Beg Hill with a bottle of scotch and toast him from the summit.
I am grateful that I had Mami and Bumpa in my life. Neighbors of my mother’s parents, they adopted my brother and I as the grandchildren they never had. The four of us led a charmed life, full love expressed in big and little ways. Mami, married to Bumpa for near 50 years passed away 13 years ago. I’m not sure Bumpa ever really got over that. He continued to refer to her in the present tense into his last days. This wasn’t due to senility or memory loss — she just continued to be present for him even though she wasn’t physically there. I think he continued to love her in a way that no woman could ever replace, though he never had a lack of women friends who would stop by with a meal or invite him out.
Every child deserves grandparents who spoil them rotten and teach them unconditional love. That was Mami and Bumpa for my brother and I. There was a lack of grandparents/grandchildren in both our lives and we were lucky enough to fill that void for each other with love.
Thank you for being my grandfather. I miss you.