August 9, 2019
Memories of Poppy.
My father’s dad is a presence. Any room that hosts him takes on an air of intensity. You can’t help but watch yourself around the tall and aged statue, sitting upright and dignified as he reads his newspapers, books or sudoku puzzles. His face is downturned not from anger but from the concentration that chiseled wrinkles into his jowels and furrows into his brow. This man is one of great intelligence, you think, and you keep your distance.
His hands are large and weathered. They once held the controls of a bomber used during some war of old. The very same jet plane sits silent in Omaha’s Space and Aeronautics Museum. Looking at the goliath of a plane as a child and knowing the hands that delicately penned numbers into sudoku boxes also maneuvered this vessel shot pride down through to my toes. This man carries in him a strength that you could never know. You admire from afar.
Dignified and mighty, my father’s father is a resting lion. Though his mind now fails him as his time draws ever nearer, I cannot soon forget the impact his presence had on me. Though he was harsh and punishing at times, he was also soft. His love for my grandmother never wavered nor did his love for the simplicity behind keeping a rose garden. These are the memories I will keep. The memories of Poppy.
One evening on the deck of my parents’ home, I sat and listened to him tell me the story of his family. He spoke candidly of the men that raised him, of the great minds that produced generation after generation of lawyers, teachers and artists. Humbly he spoke, casually.
I look back on this day and cherish it. These moments shared between us were a gift. These moments showed me who my grandfather once was. I left him alone to relish in the joy of his opening up to me. I carry his stories with me forever more.
As the curtain closes on this man’s epic achievements, he may rest easy knowing that his impact nursed four men into great men and five grandchildren into great people.
The story gains another chapter.