Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thanks for the memories

My Pop passed away today. He wasn't my Pop by blood, but he was my Pop in love. My own grandfathers died when I was very young, so I never had the chance to get to know them. I did have two grandmothers, but I never had the kind of relationship with them where I was their pride and joy. I am sure they loved me, but visits with them were not centered around me and there wasn't any spoiling of any kind involved. I've always been kind of sad that I didn't get to have that storybook relationship. Lucky for me, I married into a family that had the dream--four living, loving, involved grandparents. Even luckier, they were willing to share it with me.

From the beginning, Gran and Pop welcomed me into their home and hearts. They had a framed family tree with my name on it. Hanging proudly in their front room was a large bridal portrait of me. I was family and that was that. It was a good feeling having these adopted grandparents who treated you as one of their own.

Pop was a character. I don't have a specific favorite memory of Pop--more like a montage of the way I felt around him: at ease, happy, appreciated. Nothing seemed to bother him--he was happy to be who he was, where he was. He was a kid at heart as demonstrated by his love of the Pink Panther and his train set in the basement. It is every kid's dream to have a Pop that plays as enthusiastically as you play.

Ever the entertainer, he regaled the family with stories at dinner that would have us rolling. His sense of humor wasn't sarcastic and not exactly what you would call dry humor, but he could find comedy in the most mundane things. He looked at life like I imagine the stand up comedians of his time did. Often, after he would insert his wit into a conversation, I felt like there should be that "badumbum" sound they play after comics say the punchline of their jokes. I think he would have fit right in on Johnny Carson's show. His humor was something that stuck with him to the very end. It was what made Pop, Pop.

Pop was a creative soul. He worked hard on his bushes, shaping them into a zoo full of animals. He built bird houses and shadow boxes. Always keeping busy, creating and sharing. So in honor of Pop, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite tidbits about his life.

My mom's favorite memory of Pop involves a hot dog. Apparently, when Pop came to WV for Andy's graduation, he was on a restricted diet and wasn't allowed to eat hot dogs under normal circumstances. This day was special though, and he got to have a hot dog. Mom remembers his eyes lighting up as she handed him the plate. He made her feel like the best hostess, and all he got was a simple hot dog. That's the thing about Pop...he made everyone feel good about themselves. That's why everyone loved him so much.

Andy's favorite memories involve going off in the canoe together and going to Phillies games. He also remembers how Pop would make up silly stories and sing them at dinner. He would have the family laughing so hard that they couldn't breathe. I think Andy is a lot like Pop. He has his easy going nature and more than a bit of his humor.

I remember the fish tank with the diver half in the tank and half out. It was so playful, so Pop. I'm sorry that Chase won't get the chance to get to know him. I know he would have loved him just as we do.

Though I never personally heard him say it--I will always think "cheap skin" when I am peeling after a sun burn.

It was a standard joke at holiday dinners for Pop to ask Danielle to pass everything from the salt to the main course. It's become a ritual in our family that Danielle is the official passer at dinners. It is in these memories and traditions that Pop will continue to live on.

Though I only knew Pop for 6 short years, he touched my life in many ways. I am truly thankful for having had the chance to know such a wonderful human being. So, thanks for the memories, Pop. May you forever rest in peace.

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