Farewell Grampy

“How do you spell xylophone?” a young Dave asked his dad. “Look it up!” was his dad’s reply. Dave pulled out the dictionary and did just that….”Xylophone….Z-i….” I’m sure his dad had a good laugh!

I remember some of the stories Dave told me about his dad, James Castles, Sr., of Methuen, Massachusetts. When he told them, he always did it with a bit of humor, and his love and respect for his dad was evident.

Photo of Lt. Jim Castles

Lt. Jim Castles of the Lawrence Police Dept.

Jim was a cop for 28 years and retired as a Lieutenant. He was a tough guy….you HAD to be, to be a cop in the town of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

His experience as a police officer in a rough town had paid off many times. One of which was maybe 10 years ago at the community hall where they held special events and parties. A guy pulled a knife on my mother in law, Marilyn! Jim was able to take the knife away and the guy somehow ended up on the ground, after my sister in law, Cathy, got a hold of him. Way to go Cathy! Jim definitely passed his ability to handle crazy situations such as that on to his kids.

Jim was a super supportive dad who would go out of his way to do anything for his kids. When Dave’s sister, Maureen (Mo), started college in Maine, he drove 8 hours round trip to bring her home, and again to return her to school, every single weekend.

Dave and his brother, Jimmie, often talked about how their dad would take police watch shifts at the high school basketball games so he could watch Jimmie, a basketball standout, play. Both of his sons really looked up to their father with great respect and it showed when they spoke of him, and when they had conversations with him. When their dad spoke, they listened.

Jim was also very fun-loving and enjoyed doing special little things for his kids. Dave told me that when he was a kid, his dad would make him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch for school and cut the crust off for him. He also drew a happy face with the jelly, inside the sandwich. 🙂  It’s the little things that really count…..

When Maryellen, Dave’s sister, stayed home from school one day and asked her dad to write her a note, Jim couldn’t help letting out the prankster in him.  His note went something like this: Please excuse Maryellen for being absent from school. She had hemorrhoids and was a real pain in the —!  I can just picture him handing her the note with a serious face, and then cracking up after she read it.

Jim continued being the jokester with his grandkids, Michael, Nichole, Natalie and Sierra.  “Grampy” would say something jokingly to the kids that they sometimes would not get and he would laugh quietly to himself or with those who got it. The grandkids loved their Grampy and he loved them very much!

Photo of Grampy and the grandkids

Grampy and grandkids Nichole, Natalie, Michael, and Sierra
Taken June 2012

When I got the call on December 17 from Maureen that Jim was again in the hospital, it was a split second surprise that quickly turned into déjà vu. We had been through this for years and quite a bit during the holiday seasons. Dave had always worried about his dad and was sad that he wasn’t able to fly out to see him in the hospital. There were many, many hospital visits and Jim being the tough guy he was, had always pulled through.

The reason for his hospital stay this time was that he had fallen and fractured his hip.  Sierra and I both spoke with him the day before the surgery and he sounded great! The surgery went well; however, other medical issues complicated things a bit.

Throughout this week I thought about how Jim struggled with the loss of his son after his death on August 11, 2006.  I still remember the shaking in his voice when I spoke with him the day Dave died to explain what had happened.  Since the loss, I knew that he had continued to miss Dave, as we all still do. However, during these few days before Christmas 2012, I couldn’t help but think that maybe the time had come for him to meet up with his son again.

During this hospital stay, there were a few things that happened that caused the family to believe Dave was trying to tell us that everything was going to be okay. Our special number 11, showed up as Jim’s room number 6-11, a penny and a dime were found by family members a few times, and on the day Jim went on life support, an animated tv show called, Justin Time, was on in the waiting room.  The little boy, Justin, was imagining he was in Hawaii. Mo took a photo of the TV screen and texted it to me and also texted that her mom said, “Oh my God….it’s a Hawaiian girl with a white boy!” She laughed and said, “Just like Lena and David”.

Photo of Justin Time TV Show

TV program Justin Time played on waiting room TV at the hospital.

It brought the family some comfort to have these signs that Dave was letting us know he was here for his dad.  On Sunday, December 23, 2012, at 10:11pm Eastern, Jim was finally free from all the physical pain and heartache from the loss of his son, David.

Sierra and I were very lucky that we were able to fly out in May/June of this year to visit Grampy. We both knew it would be an important trip and we are both SO glad we spent time with him just hanging out.

This morning, Christmas Eve, was the first time I had spoken with Mo, since Jim had passed.  When she called, she was actually a bit anxious to tell me the story of what had happened when they took her dad off of life support.  After the hospital staff removed him from the machines which kept him alive, the family was called back into the room. Marilyn, my mother in law, sat next to her husband and held his hand as he took a breath…..then stopped. They waited for another breath for a bit, then Marilyn said, “He waited for us….” Everyone was gathered around his bed and broke down in tears. Jimmie asked, “Is he gone?” They weren’t sure. They all quietly wept and watched Jim as he lay there motionless, Marilyn still holding his hand as Mo leaned in and put her hand on his chest to see if he had indeed passed.

All of a sudden, he made a loud “SNORT”!  Everyone jumped!!  Then the whole family started laughing hysterically!

They went from tears of grief to tears of laughter and I’m sure the hospital must have thought the family was nuts! Lol! Jim was a prankster to the end!  I can totally imagine him and Dave standing there together cracking up laughing and pointing at the family. I can also imagine Jim saying, “Gotcha!!”

I truly do believe that Dave is teaching his dad all about the spiritual world as I’m writing this. I’m sure the golf course will be one of their hang out places as Dave and his dad both loved the sport.  I hope they both come to visit us soon here in Maui.

Photo of Jim and Dave

Jim and Dave at the Kaanapali Golf Course

Jim, thanks for being a wonderful father in law to me and a fun and loving grandfather to Sierra. I know you are well and happy. Please say hi to Dave for us.

RIP-AL: Rest in Peace…and Laughter

We love you!




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