Today we’re getting a visit from “Pop-pop”, Andrew’s grandfather.
You probably wouldn’t think this is all that special. But this morning I rose with a smile though I had only about 3 hours of sleep the night before. I showered. I brushed my teeth. I did my hair and makeup all because Pop-pop was coming.
You see…I didn’t have a grandpa. Well, I HAD two (everyone does) but I never knew them. My mother’s father died when he was 39 from complications of diabetes and my father’s father died of a heart attack only several years after bypass surgery at the age of 52. He had only just met my brother Joe.
So when I started dating Andrew, Andrew who had known TWO grandfathers in his life, I started to get terribly excited. I could meet a real grandfather. What would he be like? Would he make gurgling noises at me as my own father had done when he passed into grandfatherhood?
I had no real context. I was so curious, so desperate to know what he would be like.
The first time I met Pop-pop was at a memorial day picnic, where he dodged a falling grill with hot coals and hiked with the 20 year olds….as an 85 year old.
The thing that I think impressed me the most was the way he looked at each person in his family – with love, with great love.
Pop-pop also always orders the best food. Whenever we eat out with family I just decide to get whatever he’s having. Some how he just knows! How does he do it? He always picks the best meal and I always tend to pick the worst.
Though his hearing has lessened over the years this doesn’t seem to hinder his interaction with his family members. At each family gathering he quietly addresses the individual sitting closest to him – asking them about their life and smiling along with them at their joys.
Pop-pop emails. Booya!
Pop-pop does people’s taxes and still fills out the forms by hand. Move over Turbotax. Pop-pop is in da house!
Pop-pop makes his own cards. Really…he designs them on his computer, making each one special for every occasion. We just recently received one for sweet Clare. It now stands proudly on our mantel.
Months later, after Andrew and I had been married, we went to go visit Pop-pop at his apartment. He led us around, giving us a tour of his sanctuary. Every surface of his apartment was covered with pictures of his family. I had still not met many of them so Pop-pop took me around and introduced me to all those he loved.
He said to me with tears in his eyes, “With all these pictures, I feel like my loved ones are here with me.”
I too started to tear up. Having worked with the elderly during high school I knew that most individuals his age did not consider their grandchildren or even children their “family”. When asked if they had family in the area they would often say, “No.”
“But I thought you said you had a son who lived up the street.”
“Well, isn’t he family?”
“No. All my family are gone.”
It gave me so much overwhelming joy to think that this man, my new pop-pop, loved all of his family…even the new members.
At Christmas last year we had a special idea for Pop-pop’s gift. I remembered how much he loved photos and what he said about being surrounded by the people he loved so Andrew and I decided to give him a simple gift, a picture of the extended family that had been taken at our wedding.
He opened the package tenderly and thanked us genuinely and as the rest of the party talked and discussed politics and religion he stared at the picture with loving eyes.
I can not express to you the deep joy that I get just thinking that Pop-pop will be arriving to meet my daughter Clare in a matter of minutes. I know that her life will be changed and made better by these eyes of love…
In other parts of my world: Can certain foods that you eat make your baby super gassy and mad?