Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Papa Scotty

Today I want to write about my Papa Scotty.  He is my step-grandpa.  My mom's dad passed away before I was born, so I never knew him.  Oh how I wish I had!  Grandma Barbara remarried when I was five years old, and her new husband was my Papa Scotty.

Scotty was an extremely kind and gentle man.  Even though he joined our family later in his life, he treated us like his real grandkids, and we immediately felt comfortable and at ease in his home.  He had a big house with an amazing yard in Colorado Springs, just over an hour away from where we lived, and my sisters and I would sometimes go and stay with Grandma and Scotty for the weekend.  I've written before about our many memories there--rollerskating on the huge concrete porch, playing for hours in the beautiful yard which had a stream and a totem pole, and watching movies on their big bed that moved up and down with a remote control.  

Scotty was originally from Czechoslovakia, and I remember sitting on his lap and listening to him say poems and nursery rhymes in Czech.  My favorite was a riddle about a great big bowl of porridge, and he would hold my palm up and draw a circle in it, like he was stirring a pot.

He taught me how to play chess, and we would play for hours. Now that I am an adult, I know how boring it can be to play long strategy games with children, but if Scotty tired of playing chess with me, he never let on.  He was endlessly patient.

At night, he always watched Lawrence Welk, and my sisters and I would parade around mimicking the dancers and putting on our own show in front of his TV and he would laugh and laugh.  It seemed like he really enjoyed us being there, and we loved him for it.  

He had a box full of spare change, and on Christmas, we each got to grab a huge handful and take it home--it was so exciting.  I remember trying to stretch my hand as wide as it would possibly go so I could clutch the most quarters.  He also had a little penny slot machine, which we thought was simply the coolest.

He called me his "Chicken Soup Girl." Once when we were out to dinner with him and Grandma, I asked if I could try a bite of his chicken noodle soup.  He agreed, and I finished off his entire bowl!  He thought it was hilarious and ordered more just for me.  From then on he would say, "How's my Chicken Soup Girl?" as he wrapped me in a big hug every time he saw me.

Scotty came to my baptism when I was eight years old and was a part of so many important events in my life during the seven years that he was married to my grandma.  When she was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 70, things got really difficult for them.  Scotty was losing his memory and couldn't take care of her anymore, and his grown children insisted that they get divorced because they were worried that Grandma's cancer treatments would become his financial responsibility. This was an extremely painful time for my grandma, and she was heartbroken.  Grandma came to live with us and we weren't able to see Scotty anymore.  We all worried about him a lot, wishing we could stay a part of his life and help take care of him in his old age.  When my grandma passed away, Scotty was lost to us, and that is painful for me to think about.  I hope he was happy and at peace in the final years of his life.

The reason that I didn't write Scotty's tribute on his birthday is that I don't know his birthday, which makes me sad.  I searched through our family records, looked online for his obituary, and tried to call some distant relatives to find it out, but to no avail. :( Sometimes in the midst of hard times in life, relationships falter or face really difficult times, but that doesn't change the love or the beauty that was there before.  That's why I wanted to make sure that I wrote Scotty's birthday tribute anyway. My sisters and I loved Scotty, and he loved us.  He was an important part of my childhood, and I want to make sure that he is recorded within the memories of my life.  I am grateful for him and the good man and grandpa that he was.

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