Goodbye Papi…

What can I say, dear friends? We went to Greece to celebrate a diamond wedding anniversary, and we ended up attending a funeral…

Just like everybody else’s, our lives had been pretty much disrupted by Coronavirus during the past 1 ½ years; since January 2020, we’d only been able to see my parents back in Piraeus once, last September. As soon as my darling husband and me were both vaccinated, though, we booked a flight for late August – almost exactly one year after our last trip. And, of course, there was a special reason for us being there in September: my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary! Sixty happy years, a perfect couple, and perfect parents, too…

Of course, we had to go through all the hassle of getting our vaccination passes, filling out passenger location forms and pre-booking tests; but as it turned out that was nothing compared to what was actually expecting us over in Greece… We had a lovely reunion, two cheerful evenings together – and then, one night, my Dad’s dementia took a turn for the worse and my Mum had to take him to hospital; the doctors decided he would have to be admitted to a nursery home.

Fortunately, there is a German-speaking nursery home in Athens, run by friends of my Mum’s, so it was no problem getting him in there; and in the meantime, we were already planning for at least a little anniversary party on the premises of the home. Then, however, exactly a week before the anniversary, the phone rang early in the morning – and somehow I knew what that meant. My Mum, in tears, told me that my Dad had died of a heart attack during the night…

He hadn’t been too well for a while, but then, when it finally happens, it just feels so strange, doesn’t it – numbing, surreal, unbelievable… My darling Ian stood by me in the most wonderful way, of course, and we in turn, together with my daughter Marianna, stood by my Mum; and then the day of the funeral service came; and I honestly had no idea how to survive it.

There it was, in the centre of the little German church in Athens, my Dad’s coffin, and the service was held, and then the lady vicar told us all about his life – so many happy memories… How he got to know my Mum, how they set up their family printing business, how I was born and grew up and how we travelled all around Europe with our campervan; how they left their beloved Munich in order to live close to me and Marianna in Piraeus…

Then came the moment when they lifted the lid of the coffin – and there he was, my Dad, all cold and still; and all I managed to whisper to him was ‘Goodbye, Papi’, before I fell back on the bench, shaking all over. They closed the lid, and took him away to be cremated – the end…

All I could do now for the anniversary was to design a nice frame for their wedding photo and, together with a big bunch of flowers, give it to my Mum; we simply pretended that day that he was still there.

Then, after another battle with bureaucracy, my darling Ian and me made our way back home to Holyhead; it just felt so safe and reassuring, being home in our own four walls again, in our familiar environment, just my darling husband and me… My Mum, who’s always been a courageous lady, is recovering as well, we talk on the phone most every day, Marianna’s there for her – but those wounds take a long time to heal, and the gap will always be there.

Goodbye, Papi, and thank you so much for everything you’ve done for us all.

Published by: Roberta Franklin

I’m an author of romantic fiction, born in Germany and living in Wales and Greece. I’ve worked as a journalist, as social hostess on a cruise ship, as an insurance agent, as a translator and teacher… I love books, movies, computer games, history – and I feel at home everywhere around the world!

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