Thursday, February 26, 2009

I should be so lucky

My PopPop passed on today. While he may not have been my grandfather by blood, he was my family in all of the ways that truly matter. I remembered this quote today when I was reflecting on the light that had left us today--it seems to me to be a very fitting passage.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life.
A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

~ Mark Twain ~

My first memory of PopPop takes place before I ever even met him. I had just started dating Andy, and we were having dinner at his parent's house. The conversation came around to talking about PopPop's World War II days. Someone shared the story of how he had fallen asleep under a tree with his helmet pulled down low on his head. He was awakened by the sound of gunfire to find a bullet had just missed him while he slumbered. I remember sitting there in awe wondering what kind of person Andy's grandfather must be to have lived through such an event.

Whatever I had pictured in my head, it certainly was not what I encountered upon meeting PopPop. I kept looking at this quiet, deliberate man trying to match the reality with the vision that I had formed of him. Now, I've been told that he wasn't always so soft spoken, but when I knew him, PopPop was a man of few words. He was practical to a fault, but he couldn't hide the gleam of pride in his eye when he spoke of his grandchildren's successes. He was always willing to give advice, do your taxes, or take you out for a delicious meal. I don't think that I have ever been fed so well as when I was visiting PopPop and MomMom. My adopted Grandfather didn't even bat an eye when this Catholic girl asked for her ham and cheese sandwich on white bread at the Jewish deli. Down Beach Deli is still one of my favorite places to eat although I've since learned to just eat the rye.

When I thought I had him all figured out, my picture of PopPop changed again. In the early days of their marriage, PopPop and MomMom had been on a radio game show for newlyweds. They won a bunch of furniture and received a memento recording of their appearance on the show. I had heard stories about it, but since no one had a way to play the record, I had never actually heard the program. A couple of years ago, Danielle's brother Dustin made CDs of the recording, so we would be able to hear the interview for ourselves. On that Thanksgiving, we all sat in the living room and listened to a young PopPop and MomMom talk about how they met. PopPop sounded so hopeful & proud, but still with that touch of seriousness that I've always come to associate with him. I will never forget the looks on their faces as they were transported back in time to that day while surrounded by the family that they had made.

And that would have to be my most favorite memory of PopPop: the love and life that he shared with MomMom. From the outside, their relationship seemed like the classic TV sitcom filled with lots of bantering, but always with an unspoken devotion to one another. Riding in the car with them was always a hoot...MomMom would be a side seat driving telling him where to turn, how fast to drive, or where to park and PopPop would answer, "Just let me drive, Betty." To this day, Andy and I tease each other by saying that is how we'll be in 40 years..."Just let me drive, Mellon" is a phrase I hear often when I am engaging in my own brand of wifely nagging. It reminds me that we're on this journey together, forever--Just like PopPop and MomMom. I should be so lucky.


  1. Aunt Jann10:59 PM

    Thank you so much Laura -
    Much Love,
    Aunt Jann

  2. Anonymous12:12 PM

    Such a sweet story to share!! Grandfathers are such special people especially from that generation, they lived through so much! Do you have more stories to share? I wished I had asked more questions of my grandparents...
    May he rest in peace!