We said a final goodbye to a wonderful man today.
Michael’s grandfather–known to all of us as Poppy–passed away on Saturday. We actually found out about it in the middle of our family photo session. We had missed calls and text messages from family and feared the worst. Unfortunately, those fears were confirmed.
Poppy was the sweetest, kindest person. He was quiet–never said too much–but always greeted and departed us with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. In trying to describe him to people, I’ve been telling them to think about the stereotypical “cute old man.” Poppy was the epitome of cute old man. Seriously, they don’t come any cuter than he was.
As his son-in-law (Michael’s uncle) said in his eulogy today, Poppy was a true family man. He loved his wife–who sadly passed away in 2006–and his children, grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. I will never forget the way our nephew, Brendan, would run to him yelling, “Poppyyyy!!”
I will always remember the sound of his voice on the other end of the phone. “Michael? It’s Poppy!” He would end every conversation with Michael by telling him to “give the girls a kiss for me” (meaning Nora and me).
Every time we saw Poppy, he would give us a “care package.” He did this for all of his grandchildren. Rolls of paper towels, windshield wiper fluid, laundry detergent, nightlights, random tools that he picked up on sale at Big Lots. Thinking about it now just kills me because they were the simplest, least glamorous “gifts” to give–just compilations of items stuffed into a Wegmans bag–but could there be any greater expression of love? He thought of us when he bought that stuff. He planned ahead, putting together the bags in advance of seeing us. He took great joy in handing it over, knowing he was helping take care of us. I just… I… wow.
To say that he will be missed and that his absence has already been felt profoundly–it’s just not enough. That is a gross understatement. We know how lucky we were to have him for as long as we did, but it doesn’t lessen the sense of loss. We take comfort in knowing that he is reunited with his beloved wife. We joke that she must already be giving him hell–he had six years of peace and quiet after her death, but no more. :)
As he got older (and after he lost Nana), Poppy truly became like another child for Michael’s aunt and uncle. As I mentioned, he was still independent in many ways, but he needed and appreciated his daughter and her family. He did funny “old man” things–wandered off in the store where no one could find him. Left his car running during an entire dinner out at a restaurant. Accidentally got into the backseat of a stranger’s car. As a result, the “Sibby Stories” were the source of much laughter, and Poppy was the butt of the joke. These stories would be recounted right there in his presence, and Poppy would do nothing but laugh with us. Even he thought his antics were funny!
Poppy was a volunteer firefighter for 37 years, a member of his fire company until the day he died. (You may remember that I made Poppy an insane fire truck cake in celebration of his 80th birthday in 2010.) Actually, he will forever be a member of that fire company. One of the most impactful things that we experienced over the last few days was to see the love and respect bestowed upon him by his fire family. To see all of those people in uniform, saluting and honoring Poppy multiple times–it was awe-inspiring.
We followed Poppy’s casket into church today as saluting firefighters lined the sidewalk on both sides. The funeral procession from the church to the cemetery included numerous fire trucks, and a ride past the firehouse, where two fireman stood at the edge of the street, saluting–a chair with a fireman’s gear between them to represent their lost comrade.
It was so incredibly touching.
It comes as no surprise to me that he was loved by so many, because Poppy was not difficult to love. He was the type of person who was cared for and remembered by people who had only met him once.
I loved him like he was my own grandfather. I feel privileged to have called him “Poppy.”
Poppy, I would say “Rest in Peace,” but we know that with Nana by your side, that’s just not possible. :) We also know that you wouldn’t want it any other way. Much love from all of us who you left behind. We’ll miss you deeply.
AboutI'm Heather. I just turned 30. I'm happily married, and mommy to the most beautiful little girl in the world (what, you're saying I could be biased?). Determined DIYer and homeowner. Sarcastic. A perfectionist. A bleeding-heart liberal. Frugal. Loves a little dog way more than many humans. Loves food, hates exercise (it's an ongoing battle). A loyal football fan. I love to laugh. Value family and friends above all else. Vie to be a world traveler.
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