Saturday, November 19, 2016

"The Changing of the Guard"...

Those were the words that Poppo used so many times throughout his life. Poppo was a second father to me and he took his job very seriously. He passed away recently and we spoke at least once a week up until the end of his life. He was such a strong force in my life that might have even helped change its direction. For one he was probably my No. 1 fan, one of three actually, his sister Beverly was my No. 2,  my Mom was too she always rooted for me and believed in me till the end but she always 'Hoped' I would do well with my life whereas Poppo and Beverly knew I would. I don't know of any others but with the three of them I had my heart full of love and gratitude.

I knew Poppo since I was 17 and started dating his son. He lived in Chicago most of his life so once I married his son we moved to be near him. The years went on, we created a family and made him a Grandpa. He was always telling all of us jokes and funny stories mostly of war time when he served in the Marines, he spoke of that with so much pride, even though he was at war his stories felt to me as if those could have been some of the best years of his life. He also told us stories about sports, he Loved sports. I always thought he should have been a coach, he would have been amazing at that because he had the love of it, the knowledge and a great rapport with kids and because he never got it out of his blood.  "And this is a true story" he would say to the kids with a slightly crooked shy smile on his thin lips.

I remember he gave me a subscription to People Magazine as a birthday gift and every year he would renew it right on that day, he knew that every month that magazine came to my house I would think of him with gratitude and love. He never missed a birthday or a holiday always with a call or a card or both. Even for all the years that I was no longer his daughter in law he would do that and every time we spoke just before we hung up he would say two things to me, "Don't Step on the Cracks" and "You will always be my favorite daughter in law". He was as handsome as they come till the end but most of all he was the kindest person I knew. He never had a bad word to say about anyone, I remember every time we spoke of someone who might have hurt him in his life somehow, he would always justify the reason why they had done that.

No judgement wow, I never knew anyone like that, while I was younger I thought that was a weakness on his part, that he was either not seeing that people were not doing the right thing by him, or maybe he didn't feel worthy of more I thought, later on as he persevered with his position in this life and his views were firm I understood that he was right not to judge, that nobody does anything to us, that they are just reacting to their own life circumstances. We chose whether we stick around or not, that's our choice.

The Changing of the Guard was something he would talk about as in passing the responsibilities to the next generation when his time was up. He even wrote an article about that. He used to write articles with his opinions and send them to the Chicago newspapers to see if the editor would print them and they always did, he was very proud of that and so was I. I admired that he was trying not to be part of the problem by just standing by and doing nothing about an issue he felt strongly about, he took the time to write and the courage to send it and see if anyone would deem it important enough to print it in a newspaper editorial and they always did. At the end he put together this large book that contained his story in a way. He also added letters he had asked people to write about him. Like a testimonial that he passed by and left behind a great legacy of love.

He told the story of how he would carry his son as a baby, sit him next to him when he shaved and gave him a Gillette without a blade, the old fashion kind, put some foam on his little face and they would shave at the same time. I thought that was such a lovely memory I kept it engrained in my heart.

He would make jokes out of the years he spent living with his parents who didn't have much money and even about his father who had a sad ending as if accepting his lot in this imperfect life and finding love and laughter behind all those imperfections.

He was a proud man, took care of his wife even while he was battling his own illness at the end. He was prepared to go, we spoke about that at length, he didn't have any unfinished business because he had made peace with everything, not a lavish life, not an easy one either but one lived with dignity, courage and no judgement. He lived life as it came and allowed it to flow. "And That's a True Story".

I can only hope that one day I will be the person that he was. He was loved and admired by many. He stood up for what he believed the best way he knew how. If he has to come back to make corrections he will have a great head-start.  I know his next life will be amazing!

At the end my name didn't even appear in his Obituary, as if I had never existed in his life, but I know he was wearing my name in his Heart.

He left a great legacy of love through his son and his grandchildren who will always think of Poppo as the Greatest Grandpa. And now it's time for "The Changing of The Guard"...

Miss you Dad xoxo

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