Monday, Jul. 15, 2002 || Thoughts of a dear one

Nicole feels The current mood of nacwolin at

Slowly but surely, my computer and my template/images are getting back on-line. I have most of my images uploaded now and should finish with that project sometime this evening. My darling hubby worked hard to recover my outlook file, palm settings, and various and sundry things that I didn't quite realize I was so dependent on until I lost them.

But isn't that often the way?

Sometimes it takes losing something to realize how much we appreciate it, or them.

Yesterday was my grandmother's birthday, my mom's mom. I was a bad granddaughter and neglected to send a card. I used to be so good at sending cards; now I just call. It is easier.

But Mom-Mom likes to get a card. By the time my mom reminded me of this, it was too late to get one in the mail.

I left two messages on her machine and will call again today to grovel.

I have always been close to Mom-Mom. I spent two summers down Ocean City with her and my grandfather, Pop, during my teen years. Since Mom-Mom and Pop lived in Ocean City throughout my childhood, we spent almost every vacation there. There is nothing quite like Ocean City, MD in the summer time. And I loved every minute of it, especially those two years that I stayed for an extended time with them.

We had Christmas gifts during the lean years before and after my parents lost their business because Mom-Mom and Pop signed our parents’ names to the gift cards. I didn’t know that until years later, and only because my mom told me. Rather than leave us all a bit of money at their passing, they took us to Disney World. They breezed in and out of our house in the winter months (the off-season from their OC jobs) as they traveled here and there, bearing gifts and edible treats, taking us out to breakfast and dinner buffets, whipping up strange (spaghetti sauce with pigs feet; I did not eat that!) and wonderful recipes (sour beef, MD style crab soup, chicken cacciatore, walnut cake).

Pop spoiled me, but not in the way that makes one haughty and ungrateful. He would slip me money to which I would reply, "Mom-Mom already gave me some, Pop." He would say, "Shhh. Don't tell her."

He is the only person in my childhood that I remember taking up for me.

As the oldest sister and cousin on that side of the family, I was often, and naturally, the recipient of the "you're the oldest; you should know better; you should be the responsible one" treatment from my mother and grandmother.

But Pop called it like he saw it, and if he thought they were being too tough on me, he stepped in.

"Lena, that's enough," was all he had to say, and Mom-Mom backed down.

At first observation, one might have thought that Mom-Mom ruled the roost, but Pop led with a quiet strength that was respectful of who she was as a woman. He knew when to draw the line and tell her it was time to retreat. Their marriage was a partnership of an amazing kind, rivaled by few that I have ever seen.

They eloped when she was just 17 and he 24. The went back to their respective homes that very evening and kept the secret for several days before Mom-Mom confided in one of her sisters.

It was Mom-Mom who told me that I would have a "one and only" love (she was right); I think she knew because that was how it was for her.

Pop was not a demonstrative man (though Mom-Mom says he was terribly tender when they were alone), and perhaps that is where I get that tendency from. Even as a young girl, I avoided hugs and kisses from family members. A goodnight from across the room sufficed. “Please don’t get any closer”; for reasons I have yet to totally understand I kept my family at an arm’s length, and still have that propensity today.

And perhaps that is partly the reason Pop was so endearing to me. I didn’t need hugs and kisses to know that he loved me unconditionally. I just knew. Perhaps it was that ever present twinkle in his eye. Perhaps it was just because he was there.

My mother felt the same way about him. She was daddy’s girl. “Pop is the only person that you ever felt accepted you for who you are, loved you unconditionally,” I once said to her.

We both began to cry.

I have never felt closer to my mother than in that moment.

Even as Parkinson’s and arthritis began to ravage his body, he could still throw a withering look at any man or boy who dared whistle at his daughter or granddaughters. It amused me then. It touches me deep within now. Someone was willing to fight for me, even if the odds were against him. And no one would disrespect me if Pop was around.

I can still hear his hello whistle. It was unmistakable. And loud. So loud that when my mom was young he could stand at their door and whistle and she, my grandmother, and my uncle could hear it through the neighborhood. It was his calling card, his way of letting you know he was there. Mom-Mom has told me how she would wait a minute or two and then excuse herself from her visit with a neighbor. Folks wouldn’t understand being paged by your husband’s whistle. And to this day, do not whistle at me to get me to come to you. But Pop’s whistle was different. It meant no disrespect. It simply said, “I’m here.”

What I wouldn’t give to hear that whistle again today, even just one more time.

Parkinson’s changed the strongest man I’d ever known to a man dependent on everyone around him. In the ending months, they had to shave off his beard and mustache; it was just too much to keep up with. I didn’t see that until the viewing, and it was unsettling at first (I had moved to the Midwest a year and half before).

What I then noticed was nary a wrinkle on his dear face. His hair still dark, dark brown. The man who couldn’t stop shaking over the past few years had finally stilled.

But that wasn’t the Pop I knew in that satin lined box. He had gone “home” after the assurance from his children that they would take care of his Lena, the woman he had spent more than 50 years with. And even my Kaytlin was unafraid to reach out and touch the soft coolness of his cheek.

The smell of Thanksgiving turkey mingled with sauerkraut (he always cooked the turkey), a salty sea breeze, the scent of Brut cologne.

Twinkling eyes and handle bar mustaches.

Quarters and dimes jingling in deep denim pockets.

Simple thoughts, scents, phrases to try to sum up a giant of a man.

I went to a conference last summer and they told us to close our eyes and imagine that we were sitting in God’s lap in a big rocking chair. They then asked us what we saw, who we saw there in our mind’s eye.

I saw Pop.

~ ~ ~

test - Saturday, Oct. 01, 2016
Just a reminder - Friday, Aug. 10, 2007
Rockin' Girl Blogger - Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2007
A good end - Friday, Jun. 01, 2007
Moving on? Yes and no. - Monday, May. 07, 2007

All entries (c) Nacwolin 2001-2006. These are my words. Use your own, m'kay?