Je t’aime, Papa

Je t'aime, Papa

My grandfather passed away today.  He’s only been gone 12 hours but it feels like a lifetime already.

If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen some ramblings that sounded like the start to a Chanel number 5 commercial with Brad Pitt {watch this if you don’t know what I’m talking about}.  I can only blame the fact that lack of sleep and dehydration from crying so much has made me delirious.  Let us pray this post makes more sense.

It’s hard to sum up, in a couple sentences, how much a lifetime of memories, lessons taught, conversations had has impacted you.  I should have realized that last night when my mom told me the doctor’s didn’t think he’d make it through the night.  I was scrambling to text her something to tell him before he became incoherent and all I could muster to say was to tell him je t’aime, between dry heaving and uncontrollable sobbing.

Je t'aime, Papa

Je t’aime was his way of telling us he loved us as he got older.  He was a reserved man with a strong German heritage where emotions weren’t expressed often.  And so, as a young child I don’t remember him ever saying ‘I love you’ back when we said it to him, only a nod of approval or a “mmmhmmm, you too.”

Je t’aime.  Those simple words speak to who he was.  He traveled the world.  Seriously.  He has been everywhere.  He spoke numerous languages, could talk to you about practically anything and loved it all.  The culture, the food, the scenery.  It intrigued him and I can remember his stories about his travels.

je t'aime, Papa

Je t’aime.  Reminds me of a quirky french restaurant in New Orleans he and my grandma took me to when I was sixteen.  It was a hole in the wall but he said some of the best restaurants are just that.  He was right.  During that trip I was asked for a hug from a homeless person on the way back to the hotel to which I cowered away from only to have my grandpa look at me and smile and say, why not?”  I still didn’t but it’s a funny memory.  I was also asked to dance at a jazz club by a nice looking man to which he gave his blessing.  “Go have fun”, he said.  And I did.

Je t’aime.  Food will probably always remind me of him.  I can almost smell the baguette as it was toasting in the oven while he prepared the brie to slather all over a slice.  After I moved away he made sure to have it every time I visited and I could see the glimmer in his eyes when he would show me all his goodies.  He loved a good cheese.

cheese plate

Je t’aime.  The way we would always end a call before it was Grandma’s turn to talk.  He’d start the call by saying, “is the person to whom I’m speaking?”  I could only ever say that to him and knew he’d understand.  It always made him smile over the phone, I could tell from his voice.  He did have a great smile.  Infectious really.  With a hint of mischievousness.

Je t’aime.  On my wedding day, before mr and I left the reception I got one last dance, with him.  He taught me to love Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong {give me a kiss to build to dream on…swoon}, and Dean Martin.  I can’t ever listen to that music without thinking of him and dancing with him, as an adult and as a young child standing on the tops of his feet.

Je t’aime.  The last thing I said to him and the first thing I will say to him when I see him again.


  1. Your grandfather sounds like an amazing person, I’m so sorry for your loss

  2. So sweet. Such wonderful tender memories.
    We’re saddened for your great family.
    May you find peace in knowing that “the same sociality that exists with us here will exist with us there…” Love you, my dear.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss. Grandpas are awesome and always sorely missed. xoxo

  4. Sending you a big virtual hug. It’s always such a difficult thing.

  5. Sorry to hear of your grandpa’s passing. Thank goodness we’ll see our families again!

  6. What a beautiful post–both your words and your pictures. How blessed you were to have such a man in your life.

  7. Sorry to hear! Your post to remember him is beautiful. Sending you lots of prayers, love and hugs.

  8. I’ve read this post several times over the week, tears running down my cheeks. I keep trying to think of something to say, and so have delayed commenting. I’ve finally realized (duh Rachael!) that there’s no perfect thing to say except for that I love you, and this post is beautiful. What a wonderful tribute to an even more wonderful man.


  1. […] reflection, and a lot of reminiscing.  I’ve been in California since I got the news that my grandfather passed away.  Amidst preparing for his funeral the family is also preparing to sell the house that my […]

Speak Your Mind