The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

May 24, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Garrett's Papa would be proud

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — The young man, a barrell-chested 10-year-old wearing a suit, looks up to me in tear-filled eyes.

“Thank you for writing those stories about my Papa,” he says. “Thank you.”

Garrett Demshar was on hand last night at Gateway Church for the calling hours for his grandfather, Paul Demshar, who died May 15.

As I knelt down and took Garrett’s hand, you could see his Papa in his face, especially the dynamic cheeks.

“Your Papa was one of the best people I’ve ever known,” Garrett,” I said. “I’m sure he’s looking down on you from heaven right now and he’s so very proud of you.”

Garrett Demshar was there in the beautiful, softly lit church last night because his Papa gave his life to save him from a rip current in the Atlantic Ocean off Jacksonville last Wednesday. Both had gotten caught in the current and the final act of Paul’s 62 years was pushing his grandson toward shore.

After I told Garrett how proud his Papa is of him for being so strong, he replied by looking down at his feet and softly said, “thank you.”

Before I left the line — which included Paul’s beautiful wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Rebekah and her husband, Joe Zelenka, son Matt and his lovely wife, Lisa — and headed toward Paul’s casket, I shared another minute or so with Garrett.

“Know how you can make your Papa the most proud?” I said. “Do what he did. Spend your life being good to people.

“That’s the best way for him to live on... through you.”

Not wanting to overwhelm the young man, I moved on. His father, Matt, Paul’s son, looked toward me, tears streaming down his face, and mouthed, “thank you.”

And the thought immediately struck me — Matt has it backward.

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