My Pop-Pop

February 21, 2008
I remember when you would play pirates with us. We’d get onto the couch, laughing our five-year-old laughs, and you’d playfully shout, “Jump off the plank!” We’d jump and land in the blue, choppy ocean, which, for the moment, was not our gray rug. My best friend still remembers that, and we’re both turning sixteen.
I also remember when you would take us to the Playland Amusement Park. You always insisted on taking us on the same boat ride every year. We’d sail around an island with fake wild animals poised on its shore. You probably should have told us to stop climbing on the boat’s railing, but you didn’t.

Another time you came over to baby sit while our parents went out. You took us out to dinner at your favorite restaurant, and the people there all knew you by name. You let us each get a soup and ice cream, and I protested that it’d make William sick when you let him order more ice cream. I was ironically the one who ended up with a stomach virus later that night.

Fast forward a little while. You were living with us, and I can still remember coming home to Judge Judy and trying to get you to turn it off so I could do homework. At the end of the year, when I didn’t have any homework, you would take us across the river every day for the same reasons, except one day there was apparently a butter sale at a supermarket forty-five minutes away, and we just had to go. Remember arguing with me about that? But later you brought us to watch the sky divers, and then we went to Burger King just to get slushies. Sometimes you even took us for ice cream. Then we’d come home and look forward to doing it again the next day.

We tried to visit you in the hospital regularly after the emphysema got worse. It made me sad in a way that I’d never experienced to see people visiting women and their babies or bringing teddy bears to kids who’d had their tonsils taken out, while I was going to watch my grandfather struggle to breathe. You couldn’t talk to me for a while, but you would hold my hand. And you didn’t even want my youngest cousins to come and see you that way. I was older, but I still wish I hadn’t seen you like that.

I snap back to the present and try to pay attention to the priest at your funeral, but that’s not going to happen. It’s so hard not to cry, and I try to smile at my cousin, who I now see is crying. Everyone’s crying, especially when we leave the church and the bagpiper is playing “Amazing Grace” to remind us of your Irish pride.

Well, it’s been almost four years, but I still miss you.

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