Remembering Papa


It is with an extremely heavy heart that I announce that my Papa passed away on November 3, 2019, at his home from a broken heart. You see if you remember my family suddenly lost Meeme two years ago this Christmas day. The loss of Meeme completely crippled me and shattered my heart, so you can imagine what it did to Papa. While he stayed strong for the first year she was gone, suddenly he lost that strength - he missed her deeply, he didn't want to be alone and began to give up. As you know, I spent a lot of time with both of my grandparents, and once Meeme passed away I tried to include Papa in a variety of fun activities. We went to advanced movie screenings - which he loved, tried out new restaurants and talk about places he has been and things that he has seen. Unlike my Meeme, I was actually able to say goodbye to Papa and tell him that I love him. The hardest part for me right now is the fact that I cannot call him and hear him pick up the phone and say "How's my favorite granddaughter today."

New Yorkers and Michiganders know him as Carl, but to his family he is Papa.

After working in the auto industry throughout his life, he decided to make the move and get his own auto body shop. In 1977, Carl made the move to buy J&M Collision, and if you asked him what J&M meant, he would tell you “Judy and Me”.

Together they had three kids: Chrissy, Kevin, and Vickie.

Vickie is the youngest of the three children, and the one-story Carl seems to tell about her is that she didn’t do well in cars, despite her being around cars her own life.

One time the family was on the way to the Shrine Circus and Vickie felt like she was going to get sick, so Carl put down the back window of the station wagon. Moments later she ended up getting sick all over the outside of the car. The people in the car behind were grossed out, and before heading to the circus, Carl took his own circus to the carwash.

Carl was a very handyman, always tinkering and fixing things, which he passed onto his only son. Kevin spent plenty of hours both helping his dad at the collision shop and with odds and ends around the house. It wasn’t long before Kevin became the handyman of the family.

If you remember, Carl wasn’t only an owner of J&M auto body shop, he was also a cook in the army. However, once Judy passed away he was either “going to starve to death or eat fast food” -- (his words).

Don’t worry, his daughter, Chrissy cooked him heart-healthy and diabetic-friendly meals. (You might know them as those disgusting healthy meals, because as he would say “if it tastes like crap it must be good for me”). Carl also thought it was funny to tell people that Chrissy was his wife, not really sure why other than he thought it was hilarious. He really fooled the hospital staff his last week here.

Carl was a jokester -- that was no secret. He actually started quite the stir at the hospital. A nurse came in to ask him standard questions like if he knew where he was. He was so sick of being in the hospital that he said he was on the bench in the park. This led to Chrissy being told that he had dementia. Let’s be real, we all know he doesn’t have dementia, he just thinks he’s absolutely hilarious.

Other than being a jokester, Carl also had a deep love for wood carving. He would go to wood carving at the community center on Monday and Shadbush Nature Center on Thursday, where he was able to spend time with his friends, tell jokes and of course share the same passion they had for wood carving. He even won awards, was featured in a variety of wood carving shows and in the newspaper and made canes for others. Carl even took trips with carving friends to Midland, Frankenmuth and more to expand his wood carving expertise. Judy, of course, would send him with goodies and sandwiches - tuna fish and egg salad of course - sorry wood carving friends!

Carl’s interest rubbed off on Clay, the youngest grandchild as he began to widdle small projects with his Papa. Clay had the “plumber’s crack” down pat, long before he ever became a plumber he was helping Papa under the sink.

One thing Carl also loved to do was fish, and he wanted to share that experience with his grandchildren. However, between Alex getting a hook stuck in the back of his neck when he went to cast the line and Nathan not wanting to take the fish off the hook, it’s safe to say none of the grandchildren grew up to be charter fishermen.

We’re not really sure why Erica is called the favorite granddaughter. After all, she is the only granddaughter. While Chrissy was out of town Erica, “the favorite granddaughter”, was given one responsibility and that was to “make sure Papa didn’t end up in the hospital”. Within 15 minutes of Carl in her care, she was taking him into the ER.

Erica was the favorite for good reason though -- Carl enjoyed trying out new restaurants as well as going to advanced movie screenings with Erica, where he always tried to make sure he didn’t get any food on his shirt.

Carl loved his friends and family. He always had everyone’s back and he could diffuse any situation with just a few words. Sometimes those words were kind, other times they were not so kind, and sometimes he would use words in another language that more or less could have been made up…we’re not really sure. One friend you may have heard Carl talk about often is Tom Bailey. Tom was the first friend Carl made when he and his family moved to Warren. Ever since that moment Tom and Carl have considered each other brothers

One of the last things that Carl said was “Do you know what the difference between one and two is?”

The difference between one and two is that one cannot be whole without the other. At this moment, Carl was telling his family that he was ready to go and be whole once again with Judy - because one cannot be whole without the other. J&M.

Carl’s smile always added a twinkle to his eyes and it’s one that cannot be forgotten. We’re smiling with you, Papa. 

xoxox, your favorite granddaughter

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