Saturday, August 14, 2010
When I get where I'm going..
Sometimes we are lucky enough to know someone that is larger than life, bigger than mountains and kinder than a kiss. For me, that someone was my Pop.
My Pop was not a millionaire, he didn't find a cure for cancer or invent the internet. What he did was unremarkable to the world, he loved his family, and loved us well, and for that, I will always feel blessed.
My mother's father was my Pop Pop. My father died when I was very young so luckily I had a wonderful grandfather willing to step in and take me by the hand. Pop was so much more than a grandfather, he was, and still is, the voice in my head that guides me. I can still hear him say " Missi, you need to stop this, nothing good is going to come of it."
Pop was very old school. He took us everywhere with him, but only if we were properly dressed. Shorts and a halter top were not proper attire for a little girl, and although we rolled our eyes we would gladly change, just to take a walk with Pop.
My grandfather never drove a car, he walked everywhere and everyone knew him. He kept the grounds of the churches in the area looking pretty, he mowed the grass, planted the flowers and then weeded the beds. Pop was old, to me, he was always old, but he was amazing.
Pop was a volunteer fireman and every year won an award for going on the most calls, even though he was the oldest active member. When he was in his 60's they made him stop riding on the back of the truck, he fell off, so after that they insisted Pop had to sit in one of the seats.
Nan and Pop lived in an apartment above the fire station. The fire station had two big halls that they used for bingo and crab feasts and wedding receptions. Pop always set up before and cleaned up after. The best part was when we got to help. The floors were those old square tiles and Pop would sprinkle sawdust out of a big barrel all over the floors and then let us kids use those big push brooms to clean the floors. We never thought of it as work, we were playing with Pop Pop. And when we were done, he let us climb on the firetrucks, wearing the firemens coats and boots and stomping around pretending we were saving the world.
Pop didn't have much education, if I remember correctly he never went past elementary school, but he was the smartest person I knew. We would go for walks and Pop knew the name of every tree, flower and bird. He knew which mushrooms you could eat and which would make you sick. He could make anything grow.
It makes me sad that Mo will never know my grandparents. Pop with his kind heart and those beautiful blue eyes, and Nan with her warm lap and a hug that made the world a better place.
My grandfather died at 81, doing what he loved, fighting a fire. He lost Nan the year before and we slowly lost him over that year. Pop mourned Nan in a way I had never seen before and have not seen since. She was his world. After she died Pop would walk to the mall and buy one of those cards that was more like a book, with several poems about love and loss and missing the person you love. Then he would walk home and tuck in it the frame with Nanny's picture.
When Nan died my Pop held my hand and walked me to her casket to say goodbye. I stood there, unsure of what to do, I was afraid of this still and silent Nan, I didn't want to say goodbye and so I cried and my Pop said. " I know Missi, I miss her too." And then he his arm around me and said " She is still the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."
Today I'm missing my Pop. I miss him every day, it's been 22 years, and still I miss him. I think he's been on my mind lately because I'm going to see Willie Nelson next month and I remember that Pop didn't like him, thought he needed a haircut and a shave.
When Pop died fire trucks, ambulances and police cars came from all over the state. Everyone knew Pop and every station wanted to be represented. They had to actually close the road for the funeral procession. My mother, my siblings and I were the first to the grave site and we had to wait almost an hour for everyone one else to get there, the funeral procession was so long.
After the funeral when we went back to the fire station and they were flying the black flag and the American flag was at half mast, it hit me, Pop really wasn't going to come home. In my life that black flag had flown every time a fire fighter died, but this time it wasn't just a fire fighter, it was my Pop.
So many people knew and loved my Pop and they would all say they feel lucky to have known him, but no one was as lucky as we were. Pop loved us, with everything he had. How can you be any more blessed?
Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton sing a song called When I Get Where I'm Going, this is my favorite part:
I'm gonna walk with my grandaddy,
and he'll match me step for step,
and I'll tell him how I missed him,
every minute since he left.
Then I'll hug his neck.
Love you and miss you Pop Pop.