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My Pepere


 

When I was 21 months old, my mother's father, my Pepere, left this earth. You'd think that, because I was so young, I would not have been affected by his death. But throughout my childhood, I grieved for my Pepere. I didn't know why I was so sad, after all, I had hardly known him. My mom often told me that I had been very special to him. His wife, my grandmother, died when I was 2 months old, and it was then that my Pepere came to live with us. My mom told me that I was the apple of his eye.

As the years sped by and I grew a little older, I found myself yearning to know my Pepere. I felt very close to him, and this confused me, but I liked to talk to him and tell him things as if he were with me. One year on February 4, I was drawn to go into my parent's room. My mother had a drawer in her bureau where she kept sentimental trinkets and many old photos. I knew it was okay for me to look in this drawer, and I often did. This particular day I felt different. I felt that I was called to go to the room, open the drawer, and look into a white envelope tucked on the side. In this envelope were the obituaries of my Memere and my Pepere. As I read the obituaries, I realized that my Memere was born on that very day, February 4. I was elated! I just found this amazing and not coincidental at all. I felt it was my Pepere letting me know it was my Memere's birthday, which I had not known before.

Again, the years passed. I continued to talk to my Pepere and always felt that he was watching over me. I often found myself crying or just being sad and wishing he was with me. I grew up and met a wonderful woman named Donna. As we dated, I found myself more at peace with not having my Pepere in my life. Then I realized one day in a shock that Donna had been born on the same date that my Pepere had died, September 13. One day was talking about my Pepere, and Donna asked to see where he was buried. When we approached the site, Donna became quiet. Her mouth dropped open. She said, "Look at the date he died." It was the exact day she was born, September 13, 1963. She was born at 7:00 in the morning, but I knew my Pepere had died at 7:00 in the evening. However, later that night, I was telling my mother about the incident, and she corrected me saying that my Pepere did die at 7:00 in the morning! To say the least, I was speechless. Donna and I were married in 1983. It was at this time that I no longer felt my Pepere's presence. I felt a wonderful sense of peace.

Three years later, I looked at Donna and said, "You're pregnant." She looked at me like I was crazy and asked why I would say such a thing. I told her that I had begun to feel my Pepere's presence again and that I felt he was telling me that she was pregnant. Nine months later, our son was born. Two years later, the same thing happened, and our daughter was born. She developed a milk allergy and from the time she was nine months old she was a very cranky baby, crying many hours a day. I was attending graduate school, Donna was baby-sitting daily to help out with the bills. So our daughter's condition challenged us and drained our energy.

One evening about 10:30, I was working on a paper and the baby started to cry. I decided to let her cry for a few minutes, hoping that she would fall back asleep. Donna was exhausted from dealing with a crying child all day and was in bed, but she kept the baby monitor turned on near the bed. She was about to get up to rock her when she heard a man's voice over the monitor saying, "It's okay little girl. Go back to sleep. Shhhhhhh." My wife was thankful that I had gotten up to comfort our daughter. About 10 minutes later, she came out to the kitchen where I was working and said, "Thanks, Honey, for taking care of the baby." I told her that I had not left the table. "I thought she went back to sleep on her own," I said. Donna didn't believe me and told me she had heard my voice over the monitor. I denied this and we argued for a minute. And then suddenly we both knew. It had been my Pepere's voice Donna had heard comforting the baby.

Several years have passed since that night. Donna and I still recall the incident and we feel blessed that my Pepere is there, close to us, always watching over our family. I hardly knew him in life, and I was too young to remember his death, but I know he lives on and I love him as my grandfather and my friend. I know he has influenced my life in many ways I'm sure I'm not even aware of. Someday when it's my turn to go, I will meet him face to face again, and I will know my Pepere's love again firsthand.

Ken Landry

 

 

 
   
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