Tuesday, April 19, 2011

For Poppy.

For those of you who don't know from my super emotional Twitter statuses, my grandfather (Poppy), passed away today (on April 19, 2011), very quickly and somewhat unexpectedly.

After having knee replacement surgery, making a recovery to the point where he received a clean bill of health and went to rehab - we received notice that he had a minor blood clot in his lung, which eventually required him to go back to the hospital, which then led him to the MICU, and then to the ICU.


Pat was flown home in time to say goodbye (and it really wasn't until my parents booked him a last minute, first class flight without blinking an eye that I realized the gravity of the situation), and we all gathered around the man who has been the glue to hold us together for years, holding his hand asking us to squeeze our hands, and telling him one last time how much we love him.

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Tomorrow is the wake, and Thursday is the funeral, where I am delivering a speech (hopefully, because at this point I do not know if I can hold it together). When I was woken by my mom as she and my dad headed to the hospital after Poppy passed away, I was up just crying and reminiscing. Writing has become such an outlet for me that I turned up my music as loud as possible, and just wrote my feelings.

This post is in honor of my Poppy - I hope I make him proud on Thursday, and that my humble writing skills can express even a portion of what I feel for my grandfather.

Moi et Poppy, circa 1990.
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For Poppy.

While I was growing up, many of my friends had both sets of grandparents - and there were times that I felt really sorry for myself. I never knew my mom's parents, and my grandmother died when I was only three, so my memories of her are really borrowed memories from others. Those borrowed memories are wonderful, and I have no doubts to the kind of person she was, but those memories are not my own.

I had twinges of jealousy in elementary school, as I heard stories from the other kids about how they visited their grandparents in Florida, or when their grandmothers would pick them up from school. In my elementary school mind, quantity was more tangible than quality.

How foolish I was to be jealous. Because maybe those other people did have two sets of grandparents, maybe they had stepgrandparents - but I am the granddaughter of Thomas B., which means that I have known unconditional love that some people have gone through their entire lives without finding.

I know the love of a grandfather, who came to every single soccer game I ever played – some days to sit wrapped in blankets, shivering on the cold bleachers.

I know the love of someone who kept a recording I made at four years old on his answering machine and promised to never erase it, even when it got distorted and almost unrecognizable as the years have gone on.

I know the love of one man who was there for every function, big or small, who told you that you were beautiful, or special, or talented, at times when you needed it the most. I knew on the days that mattered to me – the county soccer matches, the birthday celebrations, graduations, plays, - anything of significance, I knew that my grandfather would be there for me. I knew that when I walked down the stairs, even if I was just slightly dressed up, that there was someone there telling me how absolutely beautiful I looked, someone who never laughed at my dreams or my ambitions and who taught me to believe in myself.

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My 23rd birthday at a Japanese steakhouse, where he tried to use chopsticks and had to get child chopsticks, which he took home to practice with.

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For those of you who don't know him like we all did - this was a man who as a child, was arrested for throwing cherries at cars, and when he was put in a police car, popped the door open on the other side and ran away. This was a man who sang songs that made absolutely no sense, but he continued to sing them because he knew they made us laugh. A man who thought family togetherness was so important, that he did whatever he could to get us all to spend time together - including squeezing way too many people into a four-bedroom condo down the shore every year, and insisting that we all attempt to sit at one table for dinner, driving servers everywhere absolutely insane.

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There is a French expression, l’espirit de l’escalier, which is when you leave a conversation and think of all the things that you wish you had said. I’ve been replaying over and over all the things I should have said to my grandfather – how I should have told him that he has made me a better person; a more loving person; that he has inspired me to be more – not to meet the expectations of others, but because I can be more; or just how very much I appreciated him – but honestly, I think he knew. I think he knew how much love we all had for him without a shadow of a doubt, because he instilled that type of love in each one of us.

I feel like my generation is more jaded – we don’t wear our hearts on our sleeve as much, and hold back. We conform to what we think our parents want us to do and many of us go through life never feelings truly accepted or happy.

How blessed am I, and are my cousins and brother, because have had a constant figure in our life who has loved us just because.

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One day, when I have children or nieces and nephews, I will be able to tell them stories ofS strength, or stubbornness, and of unconditional love for family and the importance of togetherness in a family, because that is the legacy that my grandfather is passing down to me.

Physically, my grandfather may be gone, and my heart breaks for the loss that I feel at the fact that there won’t be more time to tell him over and over again how much I love him, or laugh at the funny things he says – even when sometimes he didn’t realize he was being funny.

In the book Tuesdays with Morrie, Morrie explains to his student that while death ends a life, it does not end a relationship – the love that we have for each other will always remain, beyond the grave and that after we die, we live on in the hearts of everyone who we have nurtured or touched. I am proud to say that in this way, my grandfather will remain alive in me, and in the lives of all who he has touched.

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My hope now is that we can all take his legacy of unconditional love and apply it to our daily lives, carry him with us in our hearts every day.

*~*

I write this with tears in my eyes, because it hasn't even been a full day, and I miss him so much. I miss his laugh, I miss the way he gave advice, I miss the way he loved us all so much.

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For all the Tweets, Facebook messages, etc. - thank you all. I love you all so much and wish I could give big hugs to each and every one of you.

If you could keep my family in your thoughts/prayers/whatever you're so inclined to do, it would mean so much - especially my brother, because he has a really, really hard time externalizing his feelings, so he's acting like nothing is bothering him at all, when I think he's feeling really guilty for being away when Poppy was getting so sick. I don't want my brother living with guilt over something he couldn't control.

Currently listening to: Florence + the Machine - Cosmic Love.

24 comments:

Tracy-Girl @ Then I Got To Thinking said...

I am so so so sorry to hear this. I can't even imagine how much sorrow you are feeling. What a wonderful man, he is just so sweet looking in the pictures. You are so lucky to have had such a beautiful relationship with him.

Keep your chin up and do your best to think about all the wonderful memories you have with him.

Sending my deepest sympathy and warm thoughts to you and your family.

Lindsay said...

This post made me laugh and cry. My heart breaks for you and I wish there were magic words to make it all ok! Rest easy knowing he is in a better place. Major hugs and kisses!

Kelly @ The Startup Wife said...

I am so sorry for your loss, and I'll definitely be praying for your family. A lot of the men in my family are the same as your brother in that they act like nothing's happening, and it always concerns me, too. You are such a sweet sister to worry about his feeling guilty.

This was such a beautiful post--I really felt like I knew him better after reading it. I loved the story about the chopsticks! That is so cute, and shows the wonderful sense of humor you shared with him. You had such a beautiful relationship and it's so clear he loved you so much, and that he knew you loved him, too.

I'm so sorry, and I'll be praying for you and your family, and take good care of yourself! <3

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

Oh, Aliison. I had no idea. I didn't see those tweets. I am SO sorry. I am literally balling right now...and I am not a crier. Your grandfather is very adorable, looks like THE nicest guy in the world.

And you're right - he knew exactly how you felt about him, no words were needed. I know he is looking over you right now, proud of the amazing, beautiful, intelligent woman you are today, because of him.

To have the connection you have is so touching. If only I could be a fraction like you. I am one of those unfortunate people who doesn't show my feelings very well. So know that what you two had will never end.

Honestly, do not hesitate to let me know if you need anything at all. I love you and my heart hurts for you, but it sounds like he had an amazing life, in part thanks to you!

MizzJ said...

Omg I'm so sorry to hear about your loss and will definitely be keeping you and your family in my thoughts. I didn't see your tweets but I guess the time difference between us is to blame for that. Your grandfather sounds like an amazing person and you are all so blessed to have been enriched by his presence in your lives - you are right, it isn't something that everyone is lucky to have. I hope your brother is able to find a way to express himself.

Jocelyn said...

Allison- I am so sorry to hear about this.. we are going through exactly the same thing. It's crazy that my grandpa passed away exactly one week ago. We will get through this sister! You sound extremely close to your grandfather. I am so sorry... he sounds amazing, and looks like such an energetic and fun man.

Chin up darlin, we will make it through this. I am so sorry :( love you girl

-j

Ash said...

Sorry to hear about your granddad, he sounded like a truly amazing, memroable person.
There's not much a blog comment can do in situations like these but I just hope you and your family pull through as sad a time as this.
And that Morrie guy had it right, death doesn't end a relationship; as long as we remember and cherish them, people like these will never really leave us.
My prayers are with you and your family. God bless.

Tom Cupples said...

Aw Allison - so sorry to hear about Poppy. Give him a good send off.

HiFashion said...

Oh no! Sweeties, I'm so sorry for your loss! I hope you're ok. Shoot me an email if you need anything!
Reading this defintiely put a tear in my eye!
Poppy sounds like such an amazing life and it's good to see he lived his life to the max!
You and your family are definitely in my thoughts.

happy moments said...

i'm very sorry to hear that. It'a a great loss, but he will always remain in your heart. Hang in there. the pain will leave soon. xoxo

Morgane said...

Ho Allison

I feel so sorry for your loss and i was so overwhelmed to read your post ... You had a great grand-pa : the best one a girl could have ... He was sure a great man...
My thoughts are with you and your familly...
Thos hard days will be softer as you will remember the good memories AND you have an incroyable trésor in your heart : love given by him will be there for eternity...
Je t'embrasse très fort
Morgane

Lee Oliveira said...

I laughed so much reading your post..
But I feel sorry for your loss.. He is a better place now.
My thoughts goes for you and family darling
Lee x

Madison's Mommy said...

My heart is with you at this time. I lost my Dad suddenly a few years ago so, I understand how hard and shocking it can be. What an amazing Grandpa he was...we should all be so lucky to have had someone in our lives like your Grandpa. Your words are brilliant...touching, sad, funny, and so so true. Thanks for opening your heart.
XOXO,
Jenny

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Oh my gosh sweet Allison I am so sorry to hear this. I didn't even see your Twitter update otherwise I would have sent you an email. This is such a beautiful post and I'm thinking of you and your family at this time. Please email me if you need anything.

amy b.s. said...

allison, i am so sorry for your loss, but your words are so beautiful. i will be thinking of you and your family.

Diego R. Wyatt said...

I am very sorry to hear this news. To honor you grandfather and what he meant to you through something that means so much to you is an incredible gift to him. I wish you and your family the best. Poppy will love on through you and your brother and everyone who he touched.

You and your family are in my thoughts!

Diego
www.howtozipyourfly.com

April said...

I am so sorry! When someone you love dies it really tears at you. it's obvious you loved your grandfather, and its obvious he loved you too. its so cool how you have such a positive outlook on almost everything:) i really am sorry for your loss :/

Eeshie said...

I'm sorry about your loss. My grandfather on my mother's side died when I was three.

Try easing the pain by remembering that you were able to meet him. You talked with him, and you knew him, and he knew you. You had a chance to know each other and love each other before it was too late. I'll never be able to meet my grandfather.


This was a beautiful post.

Gracey said...

Aww I'm so sorry! I know how you are feeling. He seemed like an awesome grandfather, and you had a great relationship with him! Keeping you and your family in my prayers!

Kimberlee said...

Aww I love your Poppy even though I never met him. He seems like my grandfather who passed away almost 5 years ago. My thoughts go out to you and your family. xoxo

Syed said...

I am so incredibly sorry for your loss dear. I hope you and your family are managing as well as you can. You will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.

shelbyisms said...

You are definitely in my thoughts <3

Em [The Writer] said...

I don't think I ever had a chance to comment on this but I am so sorry for your loss dear! I hope you are feeling better now!

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