Emma's First Communion ceremony is this Saturday. It's bringing back memories. Memories that evoke mixed feelings for me. You see, Anna's First Communion was only about a week before my dad died. At that time, he was very, very sick. Only, we had no idea. No idea that in a few short days, he wouldn't be with us anymore. I am still amazed and overwhelmed how he managed to go to the ceremony and out to eat with us afterwards, in the condition that his body was in. We found out later that he had one-third of the blood that he should have had, because he was bleeding internally. One-third. Can you even imagine? When I get a little sick, and think I can't make it somewhere or do something that needs to be done, I think of him at that time, and know that I can.
But that's just the kind of person he was, he'd do absolutely anything for his children, his wife, his grandchildren. When Emma (nicknamed 'Roo' or 'Roody' when she was brand new) was about a week old and had RSV, Mark was out of town a lot, traveling for work. My dad ('June', to all of his grandchildren) would come over every night that Mark was gone, and hold Emma the entire night. She was on a respiratory monitor, but it would malfunction often and sound this deafening alarm that would scare us shitless when it went out. Number one, because it was loud! Number two, because we thought she had stopped breathing. We would often hold her all day (and all night) long, so as to act as 'human monitors', rather than keep her hooked up to the thing. Gee, I wonder why she's so spoiled . .
I can still see my dad sitting on the left hand side of my couch, in the camp where we used to live holding little tiny Emma, in his big arms. I'd leave them in that position when I went to bed and find them exactly that way when I woke up. I don't think she's slept quite as soundly since. I truly believe that, at that time, they developed a bond that could never be broken. The little, tiny love of my life and the big, strong one.
He picked Emma up from her preschool for me, between the ages of 3 and 4, and he never failed to tell me and my mom a story of what Emma told him. She used to crack him up with the things that she would say and the stories she would totally and completely make up. Until she was done and she would finish up with 'Just kidding, June! That didn't really happen'.
June used to buy entire cases of those Dove ice cream bars for Emma. Poor little Emma, takes after her grandmother, and has an addiction to chocolate. She loved those bars like no other. She could be sicker than sick and not willing to eat anything else, but she'd eat one of those ice cream bars in a wink. He'd buy those Dove bars for Emma and restock as soon as the supply started to get low.
Emma told me and my mom last week (out of the blue) that she promised to never eat a 'Dove bar' again until she was in heaven. To share it with June.
When she tried on her First Communion dress in the store a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but cry. For my dad who wouldn't get to see his 'Roody' on her special day. I really do believe that he will get to look down and see her that day. I just wish he could be standing next to me when he did.
She was so much his little girl. She still is, I guess.