Our celebration of Easter this year coincided with my grandfather's (PaPa, we call him) birthday. So after church, we made the trek to Ohio to congratulate PaPa on his 85 years of life.
I'm pretty lucky. At pushing-40, I still have three grandparents living. My NaNa passed away a little over two years ago. And I have to tell you that on the day she died, my NaNa and PaPa were still in love. He doted on her. He loved her like we can all hope to be loved at any point in our lives, especially when we're in our 80s.
So it was a little weird to see PaPa's "lady friend" at his birthday party on Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with it. I'm glad he has a companion, someone he enjoys spending time with and who enjoys being with him. But after 30+ years (in my life) of "NaNa & PaPa," "PaPa & B.J." will take a bit of time to get used to.
She was nice enough, joking that they get along so well because neither of them can hear. And she was a very good sport when PaPa opened a racy birthday card signed "Love, B.J." that was actually slipped into the stack of cards by the family prankster (good one, Dad!).
But I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me a little sad. Seeing her sitting next to him at dinner, to his right as he opened his gifts made me miss my NaNa. Miss how she would refer to any infant as a "doll baby;" how she thought everyone except (ironically) Bill Clinton was a crook; how her arthritic fingers were awkwardly slanted and how they looked getting into her fanny pack to pay for Christmas presents on our annual shopping trip; and how she had more than her fair share of way-too-tight curly perms in her hair.
No, this lady is not my NaNa. I don't think even PaPa would argue that she is. What she is, though, is a soft landing for my grandfather who spent the better part of 60 years loving a woman so completely that he likely doesn't know how to live any other way. And for that, I'm grateful.