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  • Gina Matarazzo

Remembering Papa

Updated: Apr 18

April 20, 2020, will mark ten years since my grandfather—Papa—passed away. He was 69-years-old. It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since I last spoke to him. His death was quick—and no one was prepared for it. In the course of one week, he went from being healthy, with some minor stomach pain, to being admitted to the hospital to having surgery to passing away, I remember the night we found out he had stage IV cancer, The surgeon had just finished a four hour “exploratory” surgery and came out to tell us it was basically the end—he wouldn’t survive the weekend. But my grandfather was a fighter and proved her wrong. On April 17, 2010, he told us he loved us for the last time and by Tuesday, April 20, 2010, he was gone.

Papa was a great man. I was blessed with the most amazing grandfather anyone could ask for. He was unlike any other, He always did fun things with me when I was a kid and even when I was a teenager and young adult. From riding bikes around our community to taking me to every yearly carnival the Poconos had to drivng around in his maroon Lumina listening to the oldies, my childhood was filled with adventures with Papa. I even had a shirt (which I still have in a box) that said, “Grandpa’s Little Sidekick.”

Papa passed away when I was 20—six months to 21. He loved to play the lottery and go to the casino. He was waiting impatiently to take to the casino for the first time. I made sure on my 21st birthday trip to Atlantic City that I played Roulette—his favorite game. Papa had a great sense of humor. He could always make me laugh when I was sad. He could also be serious when it was warranted. He would always tell me about “The Book of Life.” When things weren’t going well for me, he would always say, “It’s written in the book.” This “book” he referred to is the book that is “written” before we are born and outlines our entire life. You can’t change what is in the book because what is meant to be will be. Even today, when things aren’t going well or I make a bad choice, I remember what Papa told me—it’s in my book and it was meant to happen. Papa was an amazing man.

Like I mentioned, earlier, Papa’s death was sudden. In the months prior to his death, he was so active. Still shoveling snow, walking his dog Buttons, and driving me to my college class on Tuesdays. You’re probably wondering… driving her to college? On Tuesdays, my classes start later in the morning and ended late at night. At my college, if you weren’t there by 8:00 am, chances are you were parking in the additional lots that were far from the main buildings. My Mom wasn’t comfortable with me walking a far distance in a dark, somewhat deserted area. So, she asked Papa to drive me every Tuesday, which he happily agreed to. 20-year-old me was okay with this decision, but I couldn’t go against my mother. Looking back now, I’m glad my Mom was paranoid. It gave me extra time with Papa—time that would soon come to an end.

If you were lucky enough to know Papa, you knew that he would give you the shirt off his back. He was kind, thoughtful, giving, but most of all, he loved his family and would do anything for them. In the ten years that have passed, so much has happened that I wish he was a part of. But I know that he is watching over us and is with us every second of our lives. Whenever I hear “Ballad of a Teenage Queen”—the song he always sang to me—I think of him and the memories he has left with me. I love you Papa and miss you every day (and thank you for always letting me take your picture!)


Thanks for reading

XO Gina



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