I wanted to write a special post today in memory of my grandfather, my Poppy Lou. Today marks 9 years since he has been gone but his family thinks of him often and through us, his lessons and his love truly live on forever. My grandfather was a wonderful man. He was sharp, educated, determined and driven. He was diagnosed with polio at a young age but he never let that hinder him in any way. He not only went to college but ended up with his doctorate degree and became a very well respected chemical engineer. He was a great man and we were lucky to have him for as long as we did. However, warm and fuzzy he was not. He was not the kind of grandfather who would roll around on the floor with you or make silly faces to make you laugh. Especially being that my siblings and I were the first grandchildren he had, he wasn’t exactly used to having little kids around and when he was raising his own, children were seen and not heard. He was very funny but his humor was dry rather than silly and most of it was lost on anyone under the age of 16. My grandfather was polished and professional pretty much at all times. So when my 4 year old self invited him to come to my pre-school show in which my big moment involved me dancing around the stage in a cardboard car, he was less than enthused to attend such a performance. He was neither patient nor easily amused but he did want to support his granddaughter, his “numero uno” as he always called me since I was the first. He came down to Jersey that day with my grandmother and as I took the stage, my proud parents took pictures, my grandmother smiled and clapped, and my grandfather excused himself and went out to the parking lot. He called his son, my uncle, to vent his frustrations.
“Dad, aren’t you supposed to be at the girls show?” my uncle asked him.
“Louis, I am here. The show is horrible. There is absolutely no choreography, the kids are just jumping around out there with no form! Elizabeth is completely uncoordinated! The singing is awful, the acoustics are terrible and it’s so loud in there.”
My uncle, who didn’t yet have kids of his own, was trying to understand, “Dad, aren’t they like 4?”
“Still, they shouldn’t go on stage and perform for people if they cannot put on a good show. I came here all the way from Brooklyn to see this.”
My uncle just laughed to himself knowing how my grandfather was and that these shows were not exactly for him.
“Well Dad, I don’t know what to tell you, do you want to just come to my house?” he asked.
“No, I can’t. Your mother refuses to leave and is making me stay through the whole thing, I gotta get back in there,” he lamented. Of course he did go back in there and resumed the smiling and clapping that any grandfather would show his oldest grandchild at her first school show completely hiding his displeasure at our performance skills. In fact, I never even knew this story until recently. Every time I think of my grandfather out in the parking lot complaining about a 4 year olds lack of choreography I crack up because that’s exactly how he was. He demanded perfection no matter who you were. He taught his children and grandchildren to never settle and to always strive to be the best. He taught us that respect is paramount to any success and to be honest and overall good people in a society that seems to need it more and more. I can only hope that he is looking down on his wife, children and grandchildren and is proud of the people we have become and of the legacy that we continue on his behalf. At 26, I still haven’t gotten the choreography down and am still hopelessly uncoordinated so I also hope he gets a few laughs out of us every now and then too. Here’s to you, Poppy; we love and miss you always. Thanks for the memories.
My grandfather with his wife and children
Poppy and his numero uno
All of us at one of my grandpa’s favorite spots, the pocono’s in the 90′s