The Sweetest Thing

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.

Honey made by Andrew's parents.  mmm....

Honey made by Andrew's parents. mmm....

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 at our wedding last October.

Pop-pop at our wedding last October.

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…

Life is so yummy.

Life is so yummy.

In other parts of my world: Can certain foods that you eat make your baby super gassy and mad?


10 responses

  1. I sat next to Andrew’s grand father at your wedding and he was delightful, sweet, fun & a real gentle-man.. This is a beautiful article….hope your day was great.

  2. yes be careful what you eat, certain things can make the baby gassy and mad, and I forget most of them. you’ll have to use the old google. people say caffene but I never gave up my lipton tea. And onions.

  3. Thanks for the loving words about Dad. God’s love has always been the driving force in his life and so all who know Dad, experience God’s love. Too bad you never knew him along side Mom. Hope you had a wonderful visit today.

  4. This was a beautiful post Val. I totally know what you mean about loving another’s grandpa like your own… the timing of this post is funny b/c just this weekend I wrote about Scott’s grandpa! Hope you had a wonderful visit!

    About food… I found with my son that if I had anything with tomato in it, he would get super fussy and diaper rash later. Had to remove all tomato products from my diet for 6mths. Then he was fine. I’ve heard of probs with broccoli, greens, milk, chocolate… it might be worth writing down what you eat and seeing if you notice a pattern emerging with how she behaves.

  5. I’m like you with the granparents. My fathers parents died before I was born or relatively soon after. Moms father died when I was 14 and my grandmother died a couple months before our wedding. I think Tim is lucky to have his mothers parents around but sadly he doesn’t really know them, but they are so sweet. I’m told they were not always so, perhaps that’s why he didn’t see them much growing up. I spent lots of time with my mothers parents growing up and they were much like how Pop-pop sounds. I miss them a lot. I wish Sara Ellen could know them.

  6. This is such a fine blog, and this was such a lyrical essay. Like LM, I’ve re-read it several times.

    The photo of Pop-Pop made my breath catch in my throat, because it looks so much like my wife Sadie’s late father, the beloved PaPaw.

    Our old people are sublime gifts, aren’t they?

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