Home > Archives > Family First >
My Pop
Photo: Dreamstime
He always smelled like mixed nuts. He drizzled olive oil on top of his spaghetti. He wrote me short letters on his old typewriter and used to send me dollar bills for “some ice cream” when I was in college. He played the flute beautifully and looked manly doing it. He and my dad and brother have the exact same walk. He was always proud of us and I love that I knew it even at a young age.

He always called me Jo.

He was left-handed and wrote with a hook that created a horrible chicken scratch—but I can spot his writing a mile away. He laughed easily at us kids and took joy in simple things—like the cafeteria at his retirement village that he loved. He volunteered constantly at his church—doing financial things and helping with music. I remember him building things—measuring and marking things with a pencil he'd sharpened with a knife. He took great joy in my brother and I and our activities.

He was pretty hip to the new and different ways we live and the choices we've made. But we couldn't get him to do email no matter how many times Dad tried to teach him.

He played golf every week until just a few years ago, but continued to play tennis twice a week with other men young enough to be his children. Three weeks ago, at 96 years of age, he fell out on the court and broke his hip.

Beginning of the End

We've talked a lot in the last days about what might happen. What if the hip doesn't heal well? Is this the beginning of the end? He's in such great shape for his age that we began worrying that he would spiral downhill but possibly live for a long time uncomfortable and immobile. He would've hated that.

He fell asleep Sunday night and when the nurse went to check on him at 4 a.m., he had passed away. We probably won't know the exact cause of death — blood clot or heart attack, most likely.  But we are thrilled. I know that seems strange.  But after the initial tears yesterday, all I could be was thankful. Thankful he didn't suffer for a long time. Thankful he was living fully to the end. And thankful for my memories of him, my last grandparent.

Because of our transient military life, he never met my youngest son or daughter or got to know my kids well. And for that I'm very sad. But I'm so, so happy and proud that he blazed on to the end. I've spent a lot of time over the last days thinking about my own life, my own health, and whether my current path will lead me to the same kind of glorious end. I think I may need to make a few changes.

Maybe more nuts, olive oil and tennis.

We'll miss you until we see you again, Pop.

Respond to this article   View Reader Comments

By Joelle Yamada. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

SiteMap. Powered by SimpleUpdates.com © 2002-2018. User Login / Customize.