This month makes one year since I lost my Pop. He was my Bonus Grandfather but that description seems inadequate. It somehow lacks the energy and love that he was full of. He was also often full of a wonderful mix of wisdom and hot air. An Army Veteran and seasoned businessman, his extensive vocabulary was peppered with some interesting and creative phrases. He called the forgetfulness that came with old age “mad cow.” My personal favorite was “shit bird” which he used to describe anything that he’d forgotten the name for.
I was 18 when I met Pop for the first time and in the 10ish years that I knew him he gave me a lot of advice. His favorite phrases and sayings are too many to list here. Anyone who knew him has their favorites. I loved it when he said “Saying you’ll give something 110% is stupid because you can’t give more than you have.” Anytime I hear someone say 110% I giggle a little inside.
The advice that has been running through my mind a lot lately has helped shape my relationships with other people. He once told me that when a friend is going through a rough time you shouldn’t say “call me if you need anything” or “let me know if you need some help.” I remember making a face when he said that but he told me to hold on and let him explain. He went on to say that when someone is in need you do what you need to do to get to them and say “what do you need right now?” It doesn’t sound like a big difference. The thing is, when trouble arises tons of people say “let me know how I can help” or “just let me know if you need anything.” It feels like an imposition to answer though and when you’re stressed out and overwhelmed it can be hard to reach out. It can also be hard to figure out what people can help with. When someone tells you “what do you need right now?” it’s a lot easier to answer. You tell them what you need. The important part is that when your friend tells you what they need, you find a way to help. You take action. You show then that you are right there by their side. It’s about being present. It’s about being a friend who is willing to be there for the people you love when they’re in the shit.
Plenty of people asked what we needed help with when the girls were in the hospital. We appreciated all of it but it was hard sometimes to voice what we needed. When family and friends showed up and said “what do you need right now?” I was able to answer much easier. We needed some one to drive me to the NICU to see the girls when I couldn’t drive. We needed easy meals at home so we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking. I needed someone to keep me company and listen to me as I talked through the craziness of what was going on. I didn’t have to rack my brain for how people could help. I said what I needed and they supported us in whatever way they could.
Pop lived his life that way. Always there for the people he loved. He prized loyalty, friendship, integrity, and love over all things. He passed away the day we brought The Conqueror home from the hospital. We brought The Hun home the next day. I like to think that he checks in on us from time to time and looks out for us. I miss him very much but I carry him with me in the way I live. I know he’d be proud of that.