At about 3am Pacific Standard Time on May 1st, 2005 CE, Melvin Eugene Elward died from complications arising from, among other things, a stroke he had suffered on Thursday the 28th of April as well as the re-occuring cancer which he had been fighting for several years. I am told he felt little or no pain and died a peaceful death. A family-only memorial will be held within the week and, following his own wishes, “Papa’s” ashes will subsequently be scattered somewhere in the mountains of Colorado.

That’s as formal as I could get. I miss you, Papa. The fact that I wasn’t able to say goodbye properly pains me to no end, but I have faith that you knew how much I love and respect you.

Those of you who never got to meet him, Mel Elward was an amazing man. Left to fend largely for himself from early childhood, his first job was sweeping a barbershop floor when other kids were just waking up in their beds. When he was 17 he lied about his age to go fight in World War II in the Pacific. When he returned he got a degree in Engineering and eventually started his own subcontractor company, Elward Inc. He married my grandmother and became my “third granddad” long before I was born. Papa was always the one who didn’t so much push me for excellence . . . he just expected it from me. He was one of the kindest, most hale, and most hardy men I ever knew. When I was growing up I never saw a single morning which he didn’t start with a workout which, even when I was at my healthiest, I could match. And let me tell you, there wasn’t a single man out there who could ride his bicycle backwards better than my Papa. I tell you honestly that I feel honoured to have known the man.

Goodbye, Papa. I love you.

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