Last night, my family and this country lost a true American hero. My sweet Papa passed away on October 1, one week after his 88th birthday. Papa, a WWII veteran, was in Normandy on D-Day. He loved any documentary featuring WWII, and whenever I watched them with him, they never seemed quite as boring as when I tuned in alone. A quiet, gentle giant, Papa was a widely respected and truly and greatly admirable man. In fact, when my mom and her sisters lost their own parents as teenagers, Papa and his wife Mimi automatically assumed the role of surrogate mom and dad. Mimi and Papa have always been my grandparents in every single way, if not by blood. Their daughters are my aunts, and their grandchildren are my cousins. Period. And the love between our families is even deeper and richer, because the love and devotion we feel has stemmed from choice and not solely obligation, as is the case with many families today. I know that upon his death, Papa entered the arms of God hearing the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." We will be traveling to Louisiana in the coming days to say our final goodbyes to our Papa.