I’ve lost a lot of people in my life.
My grandfather (dad’s dad) died from a heart attack sometime when I was around four years old. I sort of remember it, but not really.
My grandpap (mom’s dad) died from complications of a heart attack when I was 8. I remember that my grandmother (dad’s mom) stayed with us in Houston and let us eat waffles and ice cream for breakfast.
My mom died from lung cancer 10 1/2 years ago at the age of 56. Her mother, who had had a stroke several years before, died 3 months after.
My dad’s mom died of old age somewhere in her 90’s. It was somewhere around 2000. The only family I have left is my dad, my mom’s sisters, and my brother. The deaths in my family weren’t incredibly traumatic or unexpected. They just came and went and we had to deal with them accordingly.
My coworkers inquired of me today what it was like to lose Joe Paterno. I didn’t think much of it, but as I looked at the other deaths I had encountered, it was hauntingly familiar. There was nothing swift about it. Nothing truly dramatic. He just passed, exactly like my mom, into another realm. I already miss him incredibly.
I walked through the halls of my college today, looking at Penn State paw prints, at final projects on display, on the legacy of Penn State, and I cried. I never personally met Joe Paterno, and I will regret that until the very day I die. He made an impact on my life. And just like any of my relatives who have passed, the fact is he is incorporated deeply into the very fiber of my being. I mourn for him. He is an uncle I never had. He is the mentor to my child and grandchildren.
I stood among mourners at the memorial today and couldn’t think of much to say. I could only celebrate the fact that he is free from these bonds and that his is finding his way to heaven. Godspeed, JoePa…Godspeed.