Happy Birthday, Poppa

It was my grandfather’s birthday today, so I just wanted to reflect for a moment on what a great man he was and feel thankful for his influence on me and the love he shared through my childhood and adulthood. He died a few years ago, and I feel it’s important to take a moment from my busy life to remember him through a few reflections. I hope to write more, to collect these reflections over time, and I need to start somewhere: why not now?

Growing up, I always knew him as Poppa. In more recent years, I became conscious of his sense of presence, both in the way he carried himself, and the way that he was present to a conversation. It wasn’t until the last several years of his life that I noticed how his lips would move slightly as he followed what the speaker was saying; he listened with more than just his mind, and I learned to be more present with him while he spoke, as well. His own presence pulled me more towards that same space. In the last several years of his life, when I would visit my grandparents in upstate New York, I noticed that in keeping them company my own mind would slow down. They were simply slower, in their old age; just as sharp, but slower. I would sync up (down, rather) to their rate of time flow; the days of my visits seemed to go by quickly. We would have breakfast, I would read; we would have lunch, I would check my email and do some work; we would have dinner; we would watch some television (he liked to watch the McNeil Lehrer News Hour on PBS, and Judge Judy, for which I didn’t have quite as much tolerance). Sometimes we would go out to dinner: the Chinese restaurant called Daxxon down by the old Thruway shopping center was a favorite, as Poppa was friends with the owners.

My grandfather was on the board of and served as president, secretary, and in other roles for a significant number of charitable organizations. His office walls held many award plaques. He didn’t speak much about this side of his life, and I know little about it; he served humbly.

I don’t want this to be a long exposition; I just wanted to post something to mark the day, and to resume some thoughtful self expression on the Web. Happy birthday, Poppa.

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