Monday, June 21, 2010

The Pop-pop.

When holidays like father's day come along, I always find it the toughest to be living so far away from my family. I'd love to have my parents and grandfather over for a nice dinner to celebrate, but for now, phone calls will have to suffice. I talked to my Pop-pop on the phone last night for about a half an hour, which is pretty long for him to be talking to anyone. Usually I know he's done with the conversation when he says that his "ear hurts." Every time I talk to him, I learn something new about our family, about his life, or about life in general. He's a wealth of knowledge and life experience, and at 84 he's still sharp as a whip. He's been through the Great Depression, served in World War II, raised an incredible son and daughter, watched his wife fade away from Alzheimer's Disease, seen two of his grandchildren get married, and is now about to become a great grandfather - or great Pop-pop. A few years ago, Angus bought me a digital recorder so that I could record some of Pop-pop's life stories. I did on a few occasions sit down with him, turn on the recorder, and fire questions, but I've found it's the unexpected times when the best stories surface. Last night, he told me about how he got my grandmother to quit smoking. She had already been showing signs of Alzheimer's but was still living in the apartment with my grandfather. They decided to go to the horse track to place some bets - something they did frequently for entertainment. They were at a table, and she had just finished smoking a cigarette and told him that she needed to use the restroom. She left the pack of cigarettes on the table as she headed into the bathroom. My grandfather said that he looked at the pack on the table and said, "What the hell," as he slipped the pack into his pocket wondering if she'd notice they were missing. She eventually returned from the bathroom and from that day never smoked another cigarette again. Apparently she didn't even ask about them or realize they were gone. "I saved a hell of a lot of money after that, that's for sure," was Pop-pop's close to the story. Stories like these give me a glimpse into the life of my grandfather, a man who is beyond-words-amazing in so many ways.

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