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My Grandpa Poppy

Updated on June 9, 2010

A Life Worth Remembering and Sharing

When I reflect upon my life and the different people who have made a big impact on me there is one special person who stands out. His name was “Poppy”. He was my grandfather, and his life was sadly taken away due to complications from a stroke. Reflecting back on my grandpa’s life has taught me to be a good mother to my children, enjoy life to the fullest, to be fearless, hardworking, and his unfortunate passing has inspired me to work for good health. His memory will always be with me guiding me along to be the best that I can be.

Poppy was a hardworking man who was raised by immigrants from Hungary and grew up and raised his family in Bridgeport, Connecticut. My grandpa was a man who loved his family so much and had an unforgettable smile and zest for life. These are probably two attributes that attracted my grandmother to him. It was the 1950’s when they met and they were both 16. Madly in love, they decided to elope without their parents consent down in Washington D.C.

My grandpa and grandma used to spend many hours together at roller rinks and were both very good. They did some competitions together and my grandma loved telling me stories of Poppy doing amazing flips on his skates and landing on one foot. He was a daredevil on those skates and I’m sure a thrill for many to watch. My grandparents soon had three children whom my grandpa worked many long hours for to support.

Poppy was an electrician and spent time away in New York City where there was much work to be done. The subway systems and even the ill-fated World Trade Center are just a few places in the city where he worked. I remember my grandma showing me old video of him climbing the smoke stack of a nearby power plant where he had to fix the electrical work on. Even though the top of the smoke stack swayed he was not afraid. No matter how high the task or how dark the tunnels may be he worked all jobs to the best of his ability and displayed no fear. My grandpa’s hardworking ethic was passed down to my father and I see some of those hardworking attributes in myself. I want the best for my children as well and have had to work many odd jobs to provide for them and now I’m working hard in school fulltime. My children’s needs are veryimportant to me and I’ll continue to work hard to give them the best life possible just like what my grandpa did for his children.

When Poppy was home from work he made sure to make the best of the time with his family. Many Saturdays he packed his family in the car and they headed to a nearby drive-in movie theatre that had a children’s playground and even a bottle warmer for his youngest child. They would arrive early so they would have time to play on the playground. Like a child my grandpa would join in the fun shooting down the slides and gliding in the air like a bird on the swings. Holidays with the family was also a big hit, especially Valentine’s Day. Every year he would give my grandmother a huge card to showcase his love for her. This is a day she always looked forward to. Poppy loved to spend time with his family and showered them with love. It inspires me to love my family and my spouse the best that I can. Sometimes I find myself racing down the slide with my kids and I have always wondered why I’m a big fanatic of holidays and my husband is not. I can thank my Poppy for passing down these joys for me and my family to share.

Some of my best childhood memories were spent with my Poppy. My grandpa was the biggest Mickey Mouse fan ever. There were many times I watched the old Mickey Mouse cartoons with him and he would always get a good laugh out of them. His love of Mickey Mouse was also a love for all things Disney. There were many years Poppy and my grandma would take a vacation to Disney World. When I was just five years old I was lucky enough to accompany them to Florida along with my younger brother Paul. It was a trip that will forever be in my good memory box: wonderful memories of riding the teacups, eating breakfast with Donald Duck in the huge hotel we stayed in, watching my grandfather go on all the rides while I stayed back to watch because I was either too afraid or small to enjoy at the time, and swimming in the hotel pool with him under the starry night.

My grandpa also had a huge love for the Big Apple, New York City. He took me and my siblings to the Bronx zoo to gaze at all the amazing creatures. We also visited Times Square and made the long journey to the tip top of the Empire State Building and went to numerous Christmas Shows at Radio City. These memories have stirred within me tremendous reflections of happiness and joy plus have also influenced me in the way I raise my own children. Today I enjoy taking my children out to see and experience new and different places. Creating lasting memorable memories for them is so important to me because I want them to reflect back like I do on my own memories to feel the joy like that my grandfather shared with us.

When I was a child many Sundays were spent at my grandparent’s house for dinner. good and interesting conversations were had around the table while enjoying my Italian grandma’s special sauce and pasta. The one thing my grandpa loved to have was his beer. He was not an alcoholic but loved a beer or two with his meal and I’ll never forget how upset my grandma would get over all the food and beer he enjoyed to eat. Back then he had some problems with his health that I wasn’t fully aware of at the tender age of eight but I’ll never forgot how my grandma stressed upon him to eat right. Poppy always seemed to have a no worry attitude about things. He cared about work and family but the food and drink seemed to be the last of this worries. This caused many long and sometimes funny arguments between my grandparents but when I was a teenager one late sunny afternoon those silly arguments didn’t seem that silly to me anymore.

The day my grandpa fell ill was a day that will be permanently etched in my memory like a sad painting hanging on the wall that no one will take down. I remember walking to my grandparent’s house after a voice lesson with their neighbor friend and seeing my dad’s aunt coming running out of the house crying and very emotional. I knew right then something was wrong. She approached me and said my grandfather was downstairs and was not moving. A second later the ambulance arrived and rushed my poppy away to the hospital. I was in shock over all the commotion going on. As he was rushed away in the ambulance I could only hope and pray that he would be alright. Later that day my dad told me he had a stroke and the doctors had not given him much chance of survival. A priest was called to his ER bed for last rites but then he miraculously showed signs of improving.

Poppy was not the same person after falling ill to the stroke. He couldn’t move very well and had a hard time doing normal things like eating and talking. Even though the stroke left him with limited mobility his mind was still fully aware of what was going on around him. The first time I visited him after the stroke only a few days later I remember seeing his eyes filled with tears and sadness when he looked up at me and my siblings. He knew that his life was never going to be the same. During those months of healing he seemed to improve and started to learn to walk again with help of a cane but then one day it happened again. He suffered another stroke that left him back to where he was but this time it seemed worse. My grandpa couldn’t walk at all and lost all complete feeling on one side. Food had to be fed to him through a tube. The stresses of this second stroke caused him to be frail and very weak until soon his body could longer take no more. Sadly Poppy passed away in Feb. of 2002.

My Poppy’s illness and passing was a wake-up call to me and made me realize how quickly everything can change in the blink of an eye. I also look at my health differently. Sometimes I find myself in the same “no worry” mode as my grandpa and I love food like he did. After my grandpa had a stroke I found out he had high cholesterol and very bad clogged arteries. His stroke was very much due to the condition of his health. When I have trouble taking care of myself I almost feel like Poppy is nearby whispering to me guidance to take better care of myself. I know he would not want me to suffer through what he had to go through. I try hard to eat right and exercise when I am able. His illness inspired me to gain a Nutrition certificate from a home study program. I’m also going to school for Nursing and Nutrition is one area I’m considering persuing further. I would love to help others take better care of themselves to prevent them from the same fate my Poppy had.

Today I don’t live very close to my grandma and family but when I do get a chance to go home we always seem to bring Poppy’s name up in conversations. Everyone has cherished memories of him. He is greatly missed by me and my family especially my grandma. His smile, love and devotion to his family will forever be present with us. Once I had a dream of him in heaven smiling down upon me. He was dressed in a white suit and he glowed health and happiness. This dream gave me comfort and assurance that he is always with me and my family smiling and looking after us. Looking back on his life and the memories he gave me is like watching a movie only this movie is life changing. Poppy I will never forget you and look forward to seeing you once again. Hey do they have roller skating in heaven?

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