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0-13 Years

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My Pop Pop

When I was little, I was really close with my Pop Pop (my grandfather on my dad’s side). My family and I always went over his house and as the adults talked and cooked dinner, he taught me how to play the card game Rummy. When I look back, I see that even though Rummy was just a game to me then, now it represents time with my Pop Pop. I don’t have him around anymore so it’s such a huge comfort to remember him as a friendly and joyous person.
I was so little when he was here with me so I can barely remember the stories that go along with him, but I still picture sitting in the light wood chair with bars of wood stretching from the smooth top to the floral cushioned seat. The table had four of those chairs carefully placed around the oval shape. My Pop Pop sat at the end closest to the wall opposite the grandfather clock, and I sat on the side near the living room. Every 30 minutes, the grandfather clock would chime and we would start a new game, repeating the routine over and over until dinner was ready. We played so many games with the worn-out, red cards, and conveniently I would win every time. After a good five games of Rummy, which progressively got harder and longer over the years, we would go sit in the dining room with everyone else and have a classic Italian dinner to represent our roots. My sister and I had grape juice in wine glasses with our pasta and the adults always had pasta, gravy, meat, and wine. We held this tradition for a while, but then my Pop Pop got sick. His kidneys failed and he was in the hospital. Kidney problems are common in my family, and this problem was expected considering he already had had a transplant. My Pop Pop, my companion, my playmate, my friend, my everything, was being cared for in a hospital. I didn’t quite understand the predicament at the time, but now, after countless stories, I know that he was in so much pain. I was confused when I went to see him at the hospital and my mom was crying. I was so confused as to why he was acting sad, upset, and not like his normal, happy self. I just didn’t know what was going on. I was only six and I held his hand tight and just didn’t know what else to do. I asked my mom why she was crying and she couldn’t respond. I had no clue he was dying.
My family made the decision to move him back to his home and let him be in peace without nurses coming and going. We went to visit him almost every day. I didn’t know why I couldn’t play Rummy with him or why he was in his bed all the time. I didn’t know why he had a wheelchair and hospital gown, or why he had an IV, but I went along with it. I have been told so many times about how he would be fighting with the nurse, or uncomfortable and wanting to move, or he would be just plain upset and didn’t want to see anyone, but when my sister and I walked into his room, he lit up as best he could and we said our hellos and spent time with our Pop Pop, our companion, our playmate, our everything. We wanted him to get out of bed and play Rummy, but we didn’t ask because we didn’t know why he was in bed in the first place.
I’m not sure how I found out or what my reaction was when I was told about his passing, but I don’t want to ask. My Pop Pop means too much to me now to ask how I responded when I was seven. I don’t really care how I responded, I just care that he passed away peacefully in his sleep, and he is looking down on me now from heaven. My Pop Pop is still a huge part of my life and all my memories because he represents how much family means to me, and how much I need the people to whom I am closest. My Pop Pop taught me how attached people can become to their families, and how loving families are to each other. He also shows me that love for family is fragile in a predicament like ours, but holds strong when you know there are true bonds between the members.
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