Thick homemade milkshakes and chocolate candies
Feta cheese and baklava
Big gold rings and red flannel shirts
Wooden canes and thick cigars
Birthday cards stuffed with a stick of juicy fruit gum
Gold coins and lottery scratch offs
Sweet red wine and sugared pecans
Big breakfasts of eggs and cinnamon buns from the can
Snickering laughter and tender pinches on the cheek with the back of his fingers
These are the things so many of the memories of my grandfather, our Papoo, are wrapped in.
And although these are the things that will tug at my heartstrings and bring back floods of beautiful memories for years to come, these are not the things that defined him. He was too big a figure to be defined by tangible things.
He was defined by passion – passion for the biggest and the simplest things. It did not matter whether he was discussing politics, the squirrels stealing pecans from his yard or the sliced cheddar cheese he purchased, our Papoo was always passionate. He believed deeply and fiercely in so many things. Most importantly he believed in Jesus Christ and he spread this belief and the love that stemmed from it on to each of us who are part of his family.
This love and belief in the power of legacy is what will truly live on in my heart. No matter how passionate these discussions became, no matter how loud he got, or how agitated he seemed in the moment I never once doubted his love for me or anyone in his family. Practically every phone conversation I had with him ended in “do you need anything, let me know if you need anything.” And I knew that if there was ever anything I truly needed he would find a way to meet that need; a way to continue to share the love I knew he felt so deeply.
Although Papoo is no longer with us I know that he is now in heaven, free of pain, free of the discomforts that come with old age, free to continue to live a life of passion and love for his Lord and, I hope, free to make and eat all the candy and sugared pecans his heart desires.