Thursday, November 03, 2005

Poppa

In my series on my grandparents, I bookended the not-so-good with the best. I started with my maternal grandmother, who was my favourite female grandparent, and I am ending with my step-grandfather, who was my favourite male. After my parents divorced, my dad remarried, and I had a good relationship with his wife. In fact, we were closer to each other than I was to him. I'll talk about her some other time though; for now I will talk about Poppa.

Poppa was one of those men who just had something special. Its a quality hard to define, but you know it when you see it. He was intelligent, if unlearned. Anyone who made the mistake of assuming he was stupid paid the price of his razor wit, or became the victim of one of his pranks. He was a very capable man, one of those people who could build a deck from scratch but also figure out how to repair the television when it broke.

Now, you have to remember, when Poppa needed a deck built, he didn't build it himself. He had a tongue that would do Tom Sawyer proud. On so many occassions I watched him talk people into doing his labour for him. I was always so proud when he did that. The best part was, most of the time afterwards, the people who did all the work would feel like they owed Poppa a favour.

Considering he was so good at practical jokes, I once went to him for some advice. There was this guy see - Neil - at school, and I hated him. I asked Poppa what I could do to get back at him. His advice was simple: "Tell everyone his dick tastes salty". Needless to say, I didn't follow his advice.

He was a very strong man, moreso emotionally and intellectually than physically, and someone that I count myself lucky to have known. He died of respiratory difficulties, most likely brought on by a life time of smoking. I was with him on his last day, standing around the bed in the hospital room, with my stepmother and her sisters all around.

He told us that he could die happy if he knew that just one of his children would quit smoking, and learn something from his example. If his dying could save one of them this agony, then he would gladly take the burden. It was a very emotionally charged moment for me, and I realized that he was telling the truth. If he could go back in time 40 years, and someone told him that he could continue to smoke and die, but if he quit, one of his children would smoke and die, he would continue to smoke.

None of his children quit smoking. I can't for the life of me understand why. In the first place, I quit smoking to honour the man, and his wishes. Any time I was ever tempted to have a cigarette, all I had to do was remember Poppa, and I was no longer tempted. Secondly, the man was sick. Very sick. I never want to have to go through what he went through.

If he knows that I learned from him, and honour his memory, I hope that this thought makes him happy.

A few months after his death, I went to see a psychic (a friend was paying). Now, I'm not normally the type of person who goes to see a psychic. In fact, I had never seen one before, and I have never seen one since. I came in off the street, had never met the psychic before, and he had no way of knowing anything about me.

He told me that I had a guardian - a spirit of a loved one that stayed with me, and watched over me, and protected me. He then proceeded to describe Poppa exactly. His height, his looks, everything about him. He told me that he was smiling, and had his arms around me.

That makes me very happy.

1 comment:

Daxohol said...

Okay...you got me...a tear...