This post is going to be long. I just lost my dad’s father, whom we lovingly called Pop Pop somewhat unexpectedly on December 23 and I couldn’t get to his memorial service. My heart is breaking, and I wish you could have met him. He was truly a great man in faith and values. I love thinking back over memories of him and would love to share with you what a special man he was. He has influenced my life and our business in profound ways.
What I loved about Pop Pop
- He made the best coffee-he used “Choc Full O’ Nuts” and no one else could make it taste good. His coffee always tasted rich and smooth. I don’t know HOW he did it!
- He knew how to make a mean buckwheat pancake-His trick was to fry them in butter on a searing hot cast iron skillet. I'm not a fan of buckwheat pancakes, but he did them right.
- He gave the most amazing hugs-they could crack your back! But the best part was right after his hug. He would hold me by the elbows, look me right in the eyes and ask “how are you really doing?” He had a singular ability to see past “Oh, I’m great!” to what each of us struggled with. During my long season of singleness, I never heard “you’ll find him, don’t worry!” or other trite phrases. I always received heartfelt encouragement from him that helped me feel content.
- Every New Year’s Eve, Pop Pop would (wake up), walk over to my Grandmom, kiss her and quietly say “I love you, sweetheart.” Then he’d turn to us and say “if you’re lucky, you’ll have this. 57 years and she’s still my sweetheart.” Then he’d walk out onto his front porch and shoot off his rifle as everyone cheered.
- He was a classic gentleman. From opening the door for a lady, to keeping a proper leather dopp kit, Pop Pop had a humble charm about him that honored the ladies in his life and showed the men how to be strong and gentle.
- Pop Pop could play the piano like no one I knew. He could transpose to any key with ease, and played hymns with a mellow, scatback style that was both comforting and engaging. I could listen to him play for hours.
- Pop Pop and Mom Mom kept their wedding photos and memorabilia (little polaroid prints in pristine condition) in a series of shoe boxes. I used to love sorting through their wedding photos, news articles, cake toppers, and silk flowers. This is exactly the reason that we began offering unbound album boxes. So that you could save things the way my grandparents did and so your little granddaughters could look through them with admiration as you retold stories from your engagement and wedding like I did.
Lessons I Learned from Pop Pop's Life
Quality over quantity
This was one of Pop Pop’s characteristics that I always admired. Whether it was a quality flannel shirt, a genuine cast iron skillet, or a beautiful leather attache, Pop Pop understood that some things were worth the investment.
Things get better with age
Whether it was tending the woodstove, or keeping his marriage to my Grandmom sweet, he tended his things with care and showed us how to do likewise. I remember many times where he’s pull me aside and explain the value of seasoning that cast iron skillet just right, or how a soft word and kiss would smooth over a potentially tense situation in his marriage.
Everything is a teaching opportunity
Whether it was a passing comment, fixing something, or a recipe, Pop Pop believed that everything he did was an opportunity to share and teach us.
“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”-Thomas Jefferson.
Pop Pop lived this in his faith and I admired how he loved God daily and deeply. He applied his faith to how he lived in a genuine way that helped me understand God through his life.
Not everything is a mountain to die on. Check the Scriptures, have a humble spirit, and choose wisely what you make issues over.
Love God with all your heart, mind and soul.
Some people grow up watching their family live two lives-the one that looks good and the one that makes them comfortable. Because of that, I have many friends and loved ones who find “religion” really disenchanting and I understand where they’re coming from. Why bother if you have to be a fake? Not Pop Pop. He always let God guide his decisions and he lived what he believed. Watching my grandparents and my parents live like this showed me that being a Christian was about so much more than appearances. I have grown so much in my walk with God because of the greatness I saw in my Pop Pop’s humble, daily relationship with God.
How I feel now
Watching Pop Pop bury my Grandmom two years ago was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever witnessed as he cried and said “oh, how I loved you.” But while my heart breaks again, I know my Pop Pop is in heaven with my Grandmom and his beloved Savior. And I have a sweet confidence that I’ll see him again in heaven one day.
See you soon, Pop Pop. I love you so much.