Alexander McLean Paton Neil
05 December 1939 — 28 December 2017
Papa – my Dad's dad, my grandfather – died. This has been heartbreaking even though I knew it would be coming soon. Papa lived so fully that it did not seem possible for him to last much longer once his health declined.
I love this man so much, I named my son after him.
|Alexander Paton Merkley and Alexander McLean Paton Neil|
|Alex and Alex|
|Papa and Gramma at Matthew and Laura's wedding reception, 2009|
|Meeting Mei, October 2016|
|Papa and Alex, November 2017|
|Papa's last golf, November 2017|
Eight days before his death, my siblings and I received an email from Dad saying,
"Just wanted to let you know that I've seen a big fall in Papa's health and strength the past three weeks. Currently, he is hardly eating, is not able to keep food down, and has been in so much pain that he couldn't get out of bed. He started the hospice treatment six days ago, and they are really drugging him up now so the pain is not so debilitating but maybe it's the strong painkillers that are stopping him from eating.
His hearing has greatly diminished too, and he doesn't feel much like talking. For the first time in these 18 months of terminal illness, he has twice said he didn't feel good enough to talk. So you may not get an opportunity to talk to him again, but you can try and Grandma would love to talk to you.
Four weeks ago was the golf tournament that we thankfully had him minimally participate in, and we could all tell the cancer was taking its toll. Three weeks ago, I took him to the cancer doctor and he did very well on that little jaunt. Two weeks ago was his 85th birthday and it was a wonderful evening and he was as charming as could be. Then about 10 days ago, he got a lung infection and that is when things really went downhill. He is mostly over it now, but it really took a lot out of him. A week ago, because he was so weak and sick, he went on hospice hoping he could get somewhat better. He said to me for the first time last Friday, 'I'm dying.'"
I was devastated to receive that email and even more so when he died shortly after. We were able to travel to Arizona for his funeral and I am so grateful that we were financially able to do that and that our schedule was able to be reorganized. When I saw Papa in November, I knew it was the last time I would be seeing him alive. It was time to leave his house so we could get back to Mesa for Jared and Kylie's wedding reception. I soaked Papa's shirt with my tears as he hugged me like he knew I was saying goodbye but he was letting me do it anyway, even if he didn't want it to be true. He was the best Papa in all the land. He always made me feel beautiful, talented, and important. I am so proud to be a part of his family.
I have so many memories of Papa. Memories made at his home in Phoenix and also from the trip he took me on to Scotland. These pictures are from that trip in 2005.
Papa, thank you for taking me to Scotland. Thank you for introducing me to morning rolls. Thank you for those early morning walks in Scotland as I adjusted to the jet lag. No thank you for telling me my dad was "Made in Scotland"; I'm still scarred. Thanks for having an awesome water bed and cable TV. I watched so many movies on the Disney Channel in that room. Thank you for kissing me on the cheek, and sometimes the lips if I wasn't quick enough. I think you were inadvertently my first kiss and I loved that simple gesture of grandfatherly love. Thank you for teaching me how to make scrambled eggs in a microwave. Who needs to get a pan dirty?! Thank you for taking such amazing care of your pool so I could spend hours pretending to be a mermaid and frantically racing away from that creepy vacuum. Thank you for the delicious barbecue every family party. I still haven't had chicken as good as you made it! Thank you for measuring me against your brick wall; I always stand a little taller for you. Thank you for helping me exercise my vocal chords by yelling "just a little louder" so you can hear me. Thanks for singing Christmas songs and making everything else into a song. Thanks for being Papa. I will love you forever and miss you until we meet again.