I’m keeping this brief, Pop, because I know that’s what you wanted. And I’m honoring your wishes even though I’d like to create a more worthy ‘song and dance’.
You’ve always baulked public attention and avoided any kind of fuss made in your direction. I noticed right back to my late teens that you’d shy away from being in photos and videos, sometimes quite adamantly, and I’ve read some wisdom into this – a recognition, maybe, that life is impermanent and that the moment we’re in right now is the focus – but I’ve also worried that it might have been the result, at times, of you not understanding how much you were appreciated.
If we had our way – your grandkids and great grandkids – we’d make this a much bigger affair, we’d be more flamboyant, we’d have a hall decked out just for you, we’d speak about you for hours, we’d have whatever photos we had of you out on display, we’d have the hall packed full of people and booklets to hand out, and we’d do whatever else we could think of to celebrate you, to show the world– and to make sure you know, as perfectly as possible – how much we appreciate you.
I remember playing checkers with you when I was a boy, how you’d teach me to play, ask me why I made a certain move, coach me a little bit, and get me to the point where I thought I was on the verge of winning, before you jumped three of my kings and sat back with a big grin, eyes sparkling in expectation of my reaction. I knew you’d been very generous in your moves the few times I did win. I know I never beat you fair and square. You were always too good. And I kind of like that.
Your grandkids remember you as a bit of a trickster, Pop. We loved your cheekiness. The games you’d play, the tricks you’d play on us, the back and forth tease was something we expected and looked forward to in our younger years. There was playfulness in you smile, in your eyes, in your expressions of mock surprise. The thrill you found in our reactions; the thrill in the time you had with us was always clear.
We saw this again in the time you had with our kids, your great grandchildren, and we’re so happy they had the chance to know you. That you’re a part of their life and they’re a part of yours is wonderful.
When I was talking to Nana shortly after you died I asked her what she was thinking about most. She told me how you both worked together from the moment you met almost seventy years ago. As you were building your life towards owning your first farm, making plans, out in the yard, inside the house, raising your family and building your business, you were in it together, every step of the way.
Nana said, I always knew we’d make it. We were a pretty good team.
We’ve always been aware of this, especially your grandkids. The strong bond between you and Nana has always been evident. And, reflecting on it now, it has been such an important influence on us.
On behalf of your grandkids and great grandkids I want to say that we’re the result of your teamwork, your almost ninety years of effort, and we’re members of the Pop and Nana team as well.
You’ve been a reliable focal point for our extended family, our reference of stability and – even when we weren’t physically with you – a refuge for all of us. Your influence is inside us, even now, and will always be there.
No goodbyes Pop! You’ll never really be gone. But we just want to make sure you know how much you’re appreciated.
We’ll be gathering together for the next few days in your honor, to think of you and to say thanks. You’ll attempt to shun the spotlight of course. But this time – just this once we promise – we won’t let you.
There won’t be any parades, or long speeches, but we’ll have you in mind and heart and celebrate you all the same.
We know you won’t turn up in any of the photos, or any of the videos. But we also know, without doubt, as we gather together today and tomorrow, and beyond that – for the rest of our lives – that you’ll be there.