Sunday, February 22, 2009

Abide with me

Ed Pakan, from whom I get my middle name Edward, is no longer with us. He passed away at 2:25pm on February 13 in Eagle Pass, Texas with his wife Margaret Pakan at his side and holding his hand. He was my grandfather and a soldier, father, husband, and Christian member of the community of Shamrock, Texas. His parents were immigrants from Slovakia (then Czechoslovakia) and we have kept contact with family there for nearly 100 years. He and Margaret had just celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary earlier in the week; Ed was 95 years old. He was buried at the Pakan community cemetery in North Texas. Please keep Margaret and our family in your prayers as we mourn the loss and celebrate his final homecoming.

Some of my favorite memories of Grandpa:
He took us fishing. To me, fishing is the ultimate boring sport (after cricket) but his wit and occasional lack of fuel for the boat made an exciting time for me as a child at Uncle Dusan's lake. At one point, we caught a turtle and brought it home so I could have a pet. Since it was hard to track, Ed painted the poor animal's shell road-hazard bright orange. This was ultimately in the turtle's interest as it ran away (well, quickly walked) from the utopia of apple trees and sunflowers that was my grandparent's yard.

Ed had a love for watermelon and ice-cream. My sister Lia once caught him in the dead of night with his head in the freezer, sneaking a scoop of the frozen delicacy and rather than spoil his own party, he cheekily asked Lia "You want some?"

We used to spend every Christmas in Shamrock with Grandma and Grandpa. It snowed almost every year (or sleeted sufficiently to our South Texas liking) at Christmas and we made snowmen and even a giant snowboarding hill in their driveway (that took 2 weeks to melt). Once as kids, we visited in March for Shamrock's spectacular St. Patrick's Day parade and were so excited about playing in the snow - after all, there's always snow in Shamrock, right? RIGHT. It snowed in the middle of March and we were filled with joy, and snow cones.

Christmases have changed since then. We've had them in Eagle Pass and in the Dallas area. I had a very sad Christmas in Hanoi last year, and a beautiful Christmas in Flowermound this year, inviting a new life into the family, Thomas Emmanuel Cook. Next Christmas is still a mystery! And I realize in these years of seeing family periodically that sometimes people must leave this world to make the living finally understand how much they meant to us. Such is life, such is death. We will miss you Ed, and we love you.

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