Sunday, June 26, 2011

For my Poppy

To many folks, he was an engineer who made tough calls and meticulously planned highways. To many, he was an Army General who always took care of his soldiers and proudly served his country. To some, he was a loyal Kiwanian, always quick to volunteer for Meals on Wheels or to ring a bell for the Salvation Army or sell books or onions or pecans.
To some he was a friend who could always be counted on to retell an old story, even if Mimi begged him not to. And he was ready to drink a round of margaritas or have a chili dog at the Varsity at a moment's notice.
To some he was a Cook County, North Georgia College or Georgia Tech classmate or fellow alumni. To others, he was a colleague at the DOT.
To me, well, he was just my Poppy.
When I was little, he would let me dance on his feet for hours at the Officer's Club, where we always had fun nights out.
He carried Mimi's purse while we shopped.
He snitched food off mine and Lucas's plate when we were not looking.
He became involved in lots of activities after he retired because Mimi married him for better or for worse, but not for lunch.
He could get Lucas to take off his baseball cap without saying a word.
He sang all his old favorite hymns in the shower.
He was stubborn and as hard headed as the day is long.
He cheered for us at our graduations and danced at our weddings.
He was there for the births of his great grandchildren.
And he loved being Poppy to another generation.
He got to drive through the renamed "Emory Parrish Interchange," thanks to Lucas.
He made fun of my hair in my middle school, lots of hairspray phase - he said I looked like a Ubangi.
He was always ready and willing to help Momma when Daddy was out of town. Which was a lot.
He would take his tools with him to fix things at the hotel they always stayed at in Pigeon Forge.
Almost every time he visited me, a few days after he got home, a box would arrive full of things that he did not think I should live without.
He was present at every one of my Daddy's promotions, something that cannot be said by Momma, Lucas, or me.
He was his happiest at the stream, fishing with Danny and Nicky and Mike and Daddy and Lucas and David and Gerami and Trey and Corey. Or perhaps in his state of the art woodworking shop, designed by him to meet his every need.
One time, when we were in Germany, David was staining and finishing some shelves for our apartment. He was being overly careful and taking forever. I said, "D, Poppy isn't here. Just hurry up and finish." And he said, "I know, but he will see it someday, so I want to do it the way he would."
He taught us all the lesson that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.
He showed us the importance of a positive attitude with his standard answer to the question, "Poppy, how are you?" He'd reply, "I'm just happy to be here."
He hated to miss a meal because you know, you never get it back.
He was incapable of saying "I don't know." No matter what question you asked him, he would make up an answer.
He made me cry once when he was teaching me to drive.
We made him cry every time we bowed our head to say the blessing at a holiday meal because he was always just so thankful to have us all together in one place at one time.
We never went ANYWHERE, not even half way across the country without running into someone that he knew.
He said that Mimi was his jewel.
He loved both of his homes in Adel and Smyrna.
He loved his country.
He loved his family.
And we loved him.
9-26-29 ~ 6-25-11