Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Two Years Later.

It still blows my mind that it's been two years since Poppy has been gone. After he passed away, I was in a really bad place - down under 100 pounds, couldn't/wouldn't eat or go out or really do anything enjoyable. The fact that it was so unexpected and that I lost my number one fan and supporter in life took such a massive toll on me that my emotional and physical well being was just falling into pieces. 

It was the lowest point in my life, and was a huge part of my absence from blogging during that point. There was nothing in my life that made me happy, and looking back now, it's scary to me to think of the low point where I was. I have no shame in admitting where I was and how far I fell - and that I needed therapy and a lot of support from family and friends in order to work my way up from that scary, dark point in my life. It's so cliche, but I firmly believe that all the things in life that we go through make us stronger - we may not see it right away, but down the line, we'll be able to place how we grew from point A to point B. 

Two years later, I'm in a MUCH better place, but my heart still hurts so often from the void that he left in my life. I've had so many huge things happen that I wish I could call him up about and just sit with him in his backyard or on his sofa after walking in his sliding glass door (that was NEVER unlocked) and discuss with him.

I know he would be so proud of all of our family - my brother and I are now ridiculously good friends, which happened after his funeral, when we gave up on the petty bullshit that had kept us from getting along for so many years; my cousin Thomas got recruited on a full scholarship for golf to an excellent school, and my cousin Tim just accepted a football position at Georgetown for the fall. My dad and his brother meet at least monthly for dinner or lunch to catch up, and they go out for drinks with their sister bi-monthly. We've all learned to deal with our hurt over him not being physically present (typically over a LOT of drinks), but we've gotten through it by learning to reach out and express how we're feeling to one another - something that we've never been able to do beforehand. 

When I found out that my offer on my condo was accepted, I burst into tears - part happy, and part sad because I knew how proud he would be of me and how he would probably be the first one to send a card and gift with congratulations and his name signed in a huge heart - his signature signage. My housewarming party is going to be empty because he isn't going to be here to see it all and be a part of this next step in my life, and that makes moving forward so difficult for me.


I wish that I could get his unsolicited advice about work - since he was a principal for 20+ years, he was always giving ridiculously outdated advice (like how to write lesson plans by hand) - but right now I'd do anything for another lecture that isn't at all applicable to teaching in 2013.

Last year (my first year teaching), after one of my huge reviews that I did very well on, my aunt (who works in my building) told me that the principal told her I was a shining star in the field and someone that the district should watch out for, in a good way. She came to me and told me how proud Poppy would be of me, and I just broke down because all that I wanted was to call him up and thank him for being the person who believed in me and encouraged me the most when I was in high school and college. No matter what I did or how badly I messed up, he was always there to either kick me in the ass and tell me that I could do better, or reassure me that everything was going to be okay and that I could pull through and turn a negative into a positive. 

I think the reason that I hold on so tightly to his memory is because I wish I could be more of the person who he was.


He was a traveler - going to Hawaii every spring for at least a month to play golf and get impossibly tan; he was an artist - taking time to master oils, acrylics, and watercolors and doing everything from memory; he was a reader - devouring books left and right, and underlining his favorite passages and portions (and now that I've inherited a ton of his books, I try to figure out why certain passages were meaningful to him). He sang songs to us that made absolutely no sense, but he sang them because they made us laugh or smile - even though we heard them hundreds of times.

His family always came first. Even when he was in Hawaii every year in his beach house, he made a point to go shopping for all of us - shipping pineapples back to us every week directly from Hawaii because he knew we loved them and buying us knick-knacks that we absolutely did not need, but now treasure. He bought a townhouse in Wildwood, for the sole purpose of us all spending time together as a family (and the memories that ensued from eleven of us being in a four-bedroom townhouse will be something that I will share with my nieces and nephews, or possibly children one day).

He was so proud of my brother on his graduation - and he was also at every single one of my brother's track and wrestling meets, to the point that he was awarded an "honorary coach" position at their annual sports banquet; him at his Wildwood condo, just being himself.

He was stubborn as hell - but now looking back, I think he was just so sure of himself and his opinions, that he wouldn't let anything else rattle him or shape him.  There were so many arguments that we got into with him, and never got anywhere, because he did not care - he wasn't changing his mind. Nowadays with people who never make a stance on anything and blow whichever way the wind takes them, I think we need more stubborn jackasses who stand their ground and refuse to accept less than the standards they've set for themselves.

Dying Easter eggs at my parents' Cape Cod house (where we both dropped at least 4 eggs and my mom had to go out and buy more); with Cooper who he hated at first, but became best buddies with after the first year.

God, he loved us all so much. He loved us no matter what and found something to compliment us on, no matter how badly we messed up. He never held a grudge with us - all of our mistakes were seemingly forgotten and we got to start over every time we saw him. He held us to high standards, but they weren't impossible or unattainable standards - if we were happy, we were succeeding; if we weren't happy, it was time to find a way to shape up.


He was so happy - almost always. I can't picture a time when he wasn't smiling or laughing. If we weren't happy or laughing, he would try to get us there - tickling us or telling lame jokes just to crack a smile.

All candid pictures from the Wildwood condo.

Everyone he met loved him because he was so filled with life up until the very end. Before his knee replacement surgery, which ended up causing an infection that took his life, my dad spent an entire day with him while he went about his errands. Poppy had his routine - the bagel shop, bank, grocery store to buy two things, coffee shop, local lunch place, country club, etc - and my dad told me that everywhere he went, he was greeted by name. When he introduced my dad to the people at every single place they frequented, everyone said that they had heard so much about my father, and asked how Patrick and I were doing (again, by name). Poppy was so proud of all of us, and established relationships with everyone he met, and he couldn't help but brag about his family and all of our accomplishments, as if my brother, cousins, and I were making millions of dollars doing our sports or with school work.

St. Patrick's Day (with his beloved Guinness shirt, his favorite beer) and Easter 2009 at the Cape house.

Looking back, two years down the road, I don't think I'll ever be over it. I remember people saying that it would get easier and would hurt less, but that's not the fact at all. I think we kind of learn how to cope and deal with things, but you can never expect to get over losing someone who you love so very much.

With a Magnolia Bakery cupcake and at Pat's graduation in 2008.

I wish he could still be a part of my life in a tangible way, but all that I can do is hope that I can make him proud and be even half of the person that he thought I could be become. I wish he could visit my new place, come visit work with me, meet my boyfriend, celebrate birthdays and holidays with me - but as much as it still stings not having him here, I know he will always be such an integral part of my life forever.

I'd like to pass on some of his key advice to all of you - advice that I'll always remember:

1. Don't take life too seriously - do the things that you love and make time for all of your hobbies.

2. Remember that there are more horses asses in this world than horses - learn how to handle that [this was his favorite saying ever]/.

3. Never, ever let ANYONE tell you that you're not good enough.

4. Fight like hell for what's important to you and don't worry about what anyone else thinks.

5. If you're not happy with the direction of your life, do something about it - don't rely on other people to dictate your happiness.

6. If all else fails, have a pint of Guinness.

What's the best advice you've ever received from a family member?

P.S. Unrelated, but don't forget to follow on Bloglovin! I don't want to miss out on any of you and will follow you all back <3 i="" nbsp="">
Currently listening to: What Sarah Said - Death Cab for Cutie 


The Dainty Dolls House said...

That's beautiful doll, it's good when we have someone like that in our lives or had them. I'm not sure if I ever had anyone like that really in my life. My Nana was the closest I guess. My family is not close and still not to this day. But, its great when I see those that are or have come to be!! I'm sure he will always be proud of you and is watching over you now!! The things you all have done have been clearly influenced by him & that is the greatest gift back we can give to someone we loved so dearly and that we listened to!! You will continue to go on and reach your dreams and hold tight to the belief he had in you :))) xoxox

Kathy said...

i love love LOVE this post! your poppy was a great man and touched all of your lives in ways you'll never forget. when our loved ones leave us, we never forget but we manage to move on. my father left us suddenly as well, devastating our entire family because he was just like your poppy - a great man full of laughter, kindness, wisdom and smiles.

when you lose someone so dear to you, your perception on life immediately changes and you suddenly realize what is important and what isn't.

hugs!! your poppy is always with you!

Lindsay said...

I know exactly how you feel. It's been 5 years since my grandma passed away and I still always burst into tears thinking about her (it's especially hard doing the wedding without her). The only thing we can do is continue to keep their memory alive and think of them always.

Nicole Linette said...

This is so beautiful. I remember when you posted about this, which I truly appreciate because as blogging friends, you didn't need to! But of course through the friendships you've formed, just know that we're here and thinking of you too. I also agree that the pain from these kinds of losses may never subside. But you celebrate his life exceptionally-- the pictures are really great, and so is the advice! My Dad always tells me to do what makes me happy, which is interesting because he and my mom don't always lead by example. Again, I loved this post and thank you for the reminder to value our family relationships. I should give my parents a call soon :).

with love,

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

This is such a sweet post. I know he is reading it in Heaven (of course there is internet!) and smiling :)

Meg {henninglove} said...

love this post about your poppy. he sounds like he was a wonderful man and left a lasting legacy on his family and everyone he met. i love the advice that he provided all of you

▲my• said...

This was such a beautiful post. Grandparents touch us in amazing ways. I know I wouldn't be the same person had I not known my Yia-yia (grandmother). <3

May his memory be eternal!

Elle Sees said...

it's been a year since my beloved great granny Sugar passed away, and i still well up missing her.
i'm not sharing this on the blog (mom's a very private person), but we found out my mom's cancer came back, so love and loss has really been on my mind lately. i'm just really taking each moment for what it is worth.

HiFashion said...

Your grandfather sounds like an amazing person, and so glad to hear you're in a much better place too!
I love all that advice. The second one in particular was what I needed to hear right now.

Ash said...

I'll say it again, your granddad sounds like a hell of a guy. I think we'd all be better off having someone like that in our lives, someone who genuinely cares about us and pushes us to be better, but understands and accepts us for our flaws nonetheless.

When I was reading this, the song 'The Beat Goes On' by Beady Eye was playing, and it just seemed to be the perfect accompaniment to this post. I've always loved the song, but hearing it play whilst reading this post... it just hit harder than it ever has. It's definitely worth a listen, I think.

It's good to hear you're in a better place than when you were before. I didn't know you were feeling that down when he passed away. I've never really lost someone that's been that close to me. I've lost an uncle and my dad's parents, but since they were in Sri Lanka, I never knew them as well as I would have liked, and as terrible as it sounds, their passing didn't hit me as hard as it could have. I only ever saw my dad's parents a small handful of times so I can barely remember them. My uncle I saw more, but still not enough as I would have liked.

I'm glad you've come out of the tunnel, so to speak, and are stronger for it. You've been through a fair bit in life, but you always seems to come out stronger for it. Respect. Seriously.

Take care.

PS: What's all this stuff with Bloglovin? Is Blogger being closed or something? I've joined Bloglovin and followed you, but I can't seem to be able to import my blog posts from Blogger... what the HELL, man. Am I doing something wrong?

fhenny said...

such a beautiful post allison,
congratulations on your new house!

remembering on how much impact he gave to you. but i am totally sure that he would be more than proud to see how much you and your family have grown and he must be happy that his family members are growing towards the direction he would love to see.
he gave such good advice i must admit :) and knowing that you have him in your live, you must remember of how lucky you are because i don't have a chance to meet such amazing grandfather.

sending hugs to you!
style frontier

Sara Louise said...

This was really beautiful Allison! Such a lovely tribute. I'm sure that Poppy would be very, very proud of the woman that you're blossoming into xoxo

la petite fashionista said...

I love this post so much. I feel the exact same way about my gramma. we had such a special relationship. I grew up with her teaching me how to read (& loving learning), we would go shopping together and she always encouraged me to have fun with fashion. we'd do arts and crafts projects together after school every day and she was always my biggest cheerleader. I miss her every day!

sending you happy thoughts and memories!