Early Monday morning my paternal grandfather, fondly referred to by our entire family as ‘Pop’, passed away. He was 86 years old.
My mother loves to tell how I referred to him as “my friend Pop” when I was little. I remember him indulging my juvenile games and fantastical imaginary scenarios on many an evening or weekend when my parents were out. I remember what I now recognize as an amused smile as he enjoyed watching my active imagination. Those many hours and days that Pop sacrificed as my family’s go-to babysitter are precious to me and my siblings.
I remember the outings he would take us on, whether it was something as simple as a trip to the grocery store, or as exciting as fishing at a nearby lake. Most of all, I remember Pop’s willingness to teach: sinking a 20-foot putt (never did master that one!), hooking an eight pound bass (or, more likely an eight ounce Spot), or playing Gin Rummy were only the beginnings of what Pop would teach us.
Pop taught us more by his life than he probably ever knew. And only in writing this do I now realize how much I should have told HIM. Pop taught me about redemption and strength of will. He taught me about giving to the community. Most of all, he taught me how to earn the deep admiration of family, friends, and peers by living a life guided by a close relationship with Jesus Christ.
In these past few weeks, I have been touched by the outreach of Pop’s friends – his ‘extended family,’ if you will. The well wishing through cards and visitors was truly beautiful. I loved reading through his birthday, Easter, and get well cards (I’m fairly certain he didn’t mind) and seeing names I had never heard before. It firmly cemented in my mind the long reach of Pop’s generous spirit, and the humility with which he lived.
We’ll miss you Pop. See you in the next Life.