Not too long ago, I posted about my grandfather. At the time, I was really hoping to share a piece that I wrote about him in college, but was unable to find it. Lo and behold, I was going through the boxes in our garage yesterday and I found a copy of it! I thought I would share, and added a few pictures to it as well. It is a bit long, but I hope you'll read it.
The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren varies greatly from family to family. I have heard from some people how they can't stand their grandparents and from others that their grandparents are the best people in the world. My grandparents were the best people in the world. Especially my grandfather. Nothing can describe the wonderful relationship that we had, and how much we cared about each other.
I can remember only good things about my grandfather, or "Pop-Pop" as my sister and I so affectionately called him. He was a kind and gentle man who taught me a lot about life, and who called me "Petunia." He was a small man, very skinny, but had a great sense of humor and smelled like peppermints. He always had a peppermint with him, and many times he would sneak me some after meals.
When I was little, I am not exactly sure what age it was, he spent a lot of time teaching me how to spell. He never became frustrated when I mixed up the d's with the b's and found it funny that I spelled my sister's name Heibi. He continued to work with me until one day when I finally got it right.
I remember when I would come over and he would teach me how to play the organ, and later the piano. I always tried my hardest to get the pieces right because I wanted to make him proud. Sometimes though, my sister and I would just want to have fun, and would pound on the keys causing a lot of nonsense to be played. My Pop-Pop would just laugh and let us keep playing because he knew we were having fun.
When I first learned to tell time on a clock other than the microwave, he gave me a hug and congratulated me. He made such a big deal about it that one would think I had won the Olympics.
Although Pop-Pop was not one to tell me that he loved me a lot, I always knew that he did. Whether it was the twinkle in his eye or how proud he got, I never doubted the fact that he loved me.
Never a visit would pass that he wouldn't sit on the steps near the family room to listen to the conversations that would take place between my mother and grandmother. Sometiems I sat next to him and wondered what was so interesting, others, I would go and play the organ and try to get attention.
Birthdays were some of my favorite times. Shortly after we would arrive at my grandparent's house, my Pop-Pop would start playing Happy Birthday on the organ. I looked forward to the beautiful sound, and knew that I wouldn't leave without hearing the familiar notes.
Pop-Pop was diagnosed with Alzheimer's around the time I was in first grade. I didn't know what it meant at the time, just that he was sick. Times with my grandfather changed a lot after that. He didn't call me Petunia as much, and he hstayed in his room most of the times that my sister and I came over. I tried to get him to talk as much as I could. I knew he was upset because of what was happeneing, and I wanted to make him feel good about himself. Never a visit passed when I wouldn't go into his room and give him a hug and tell him that I loved him. Good memory or not, he was still my Pop-Pop and I still loved him.
As the years passed, I began to get more involved with figure skating and didn't get to spend as much time with my grandfather. When I did visit him, I wouldn't see him for more than a few minutes because he would sit in his room watching TV. He became less social, and would no longer sit and listen to conversations between my mom and my grandmother. Birthdays were much different because he no longer played Happy Birthday.
Some days would be better than others, and it is those good days that I choose to remember. Like the day he called and I answered the phone, only to hear some familiar words from my childhood, "Hello Petunia." And on my sister's birthday when out of nowhere the notes of Happy Birthday started to play, and did so for several minutes.
There was still a special bond between my grandfather and I, and it would remain until the day that he died. Memory or not, I believe that someone can sense that they are cared about and loved.
The last time I saw my Pop-Pop, he was unconscious in a hospital bed. It was one of the hardest moments of my life knowing that I was no longer going to see him on the stairs, be able to give him a hug, or smell that familiar pepperminty smell. My last words to him were, "Hey Pop-Pop, its Petunia. I just wanted you to know that I love you and I am going to miss you very much." He squeezed my hand then, and I will forever carry that in my heart.
Sometimes, one doesn't realize how proud someone is of them until after that person dies. I always knew that my grandfather was proud of me, I just didn't realize how proud. After his funeral, my family and I were looking through his things and found a few scrapbooks. What they contained was amazing. The mementos of my childhood, all the way up to the present made me feel so special. He hadn't missed a single thing. The time he spent making the book was evident and gave me a sense of love and pride.
To this day I miss my grandfather, and wish that he could have lived to see me reach my highest level of skating, graduate from high school and become the woman I am today. However, he is with me every step of the way and I know that he is still proud of me.