Today marks 10 years since the Lord decided that it was time for my Papa to be with his Queen in heaven. I miss you every single day. Not too many people can say that their Papa was one of their FIRST best friends. But I could. When I was 4, I was admitted in to the hospital.... I remember that he never left. When I fell asleep.. he was there. When I woke up, he was there... His clothes may have changed, but he was always there holding my hand. I remember that it took me a while to get better because when the doctors and my mom left, he would pull out the McDonald's happy meal that he snuck in for me and we'd spend all night eating and watching Sailor Moon. Then I'd spend the next day throwing up and crying...lol... FAT RIGHT? But who cares. My Papa constantly told me that only white princesses ate fruits like Snow White... and that they were jealous because only brown princesses looked cute eating Happy Meals and throwing up like I did.
I remember growing up thinking that Park Village was a suburb. I don't know what childhood was like for other kids growing up in Compton, but I can honestly say that for me, it was absolutely amazing. When Papa had a stroke and had to be hospitalized for the first time ever... It was so hard for me to see the strongest man I knew in a hospital bed. He hated being poked with needles and I hated seeing him flinch every time a nurse passed by. I remember cussing out a nurse for having to poke him more than once to get blood. After my tirade I turned around and he said, "Princesses aren't supposed to talk like that... and as a priesthood holder I should tell you that I'm very disappointed in your choice of words. But I'm happy you didn't slap her because that's the third time she did that." Needless to say, that nurse never touched him again! And neither did any other nurse who valued their life and self esteem.
Papa was hospitalized for 6 months and 21 days. What I cherish most about our nights together were our late night conversations. Sometimes he'd wake up thinking I was my grandma, and he'd tell me about how happy he was that he was finally able to get my Aunty Vai and all of her kids to accept the church and be baptized. Ta'afuli, Arona, and Jr were baptized and we were just waiting on Nofo. Other nights he'd wake up thinking I was my mom, and he'd spend the night screaming at me for being mean to his grandkids. Some night's he'd forget who I was altogether... those were the hardest. Then some nights.... he'd wake up and he'd remember exactly who I was... and we'd spend the night talking about Masi & Lua's future wedding. He had a stroke the morning of Masi and Lua's wedding. He was so excited about it sometimes... so I never had it in me to tell him that it had already passed. We'd spend the night talking about how funny it was when the family found out. Some night's he would remember I had a boyfriend and jokingly asked how he felt about me spending all my nights with another man...lol.... He had jokes for a crazy guy.
The night before he left, I woke up to his hands on my head. It was the last blessing he ever gave me. A part of me knew his time was close because he asked the Lord to help me find comfort and peace. My older sister Tali visited him that day and I almost feel like he waited to see her one more time before he left. Because he'd become so small in the 6 months he'd been in the hospital, I was able to lay in bed with him. The next morning was a Sunday. He woke me up and told me that I needed to go to church and stay for family tona'i (dinner) since I haven't done so for a long time. As I said goodbye to him that morning, a part of me knew that it was the last time. The other part of me was in denial. But just in case, I gave him a hug and a kiss and thanked him for being the best King a Princess could ever have in this life. In true Papa fashion, he ruined the moment by reminding me that he was the best King I'd ever have in ANY life...lol... As I left the hospital, a feeling of contentment came over me. I said everything I ever needed to say to that man in this life. And when the time came for me to see him on the other side, I know we'd pick up right where we left off.
I love and miss you every day Papa. You were my first father, friend, body guard, and cheerleader. Even with all of my imperfections, and attitude, and craziness... You still made me feel like a perfect princess.... Thank You!