My parents grew up in the same town, thier houses within walking distance from one another. These houses were the same ones that provided a backdrop for my visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s. They were places that nothing ever changed and I loved going there. During the 18+ hour trip from Texas to Wisconsin I’d read as many books as I could with my little flashlight. We’d arrive at my Grandma and Grandpa Romanski’s. There would be a wide array of candy and baked goods on the buffet, a vegtable tray and soda in the fridge, ice cream in the freezer. Grandma would offer food the minute we walked in the door. It didn’t matter how many times you said you weren’t hungry, she’d try different things until you caved. In the mornings, waking up in the room above the kitchen, I’d lay and listen to the grownups discussing life. The coversation and the smell of breakfast wafting up through the vent.
There were other rituals tooâ€” like the toy closet at the Romanski’s where the kids went to play, my Grandpa Romanski’s (Papa) constant reminder to eat so you didn’t get sick, both grandfathers slipping me $20 and telling me not to tell anyone, looking through my Grandpa Murray’s metal detector finds to pick out whatever rings I wanted (probably where my love of jewelry sprang from) and hanging out in his basement making things out of wood scrapes, playing pool and eating candy.
These traditions began to change the year I graduated high school. That summer, my Grandpa Murray died, followed by my Grandma Murray the next summer almost to the day. Almost three years ago, My Grandma Romanski died after she and Papa moved down to Texas to live with my parents. And finally, today at 7:30 I got the call from my mother that Papa had died. He had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and brain metts.
I don’t normally share this much about myself or my family, and I hope it won’t make my family too sad to read it, but I needed to write it so I’m taking this space to remember.
Papa loved to entertain with his stories. He loved to impart his wisdom…with such morsals as “look at the family tree of the person you are dating and if you see bad health, run for the hills”. He always called me his little diplomat. He was a character.