The Detective’s Daughter -My Christmas Angel


Kim in Baltimore thinking that lights on the tree is good enough this year.

Many people start the Christmas season on the first Sunday of Advent, but at our house the real festivities began on December 23rd. That was my grandfather’s birthday. This year he would have been 108 years old.FullSizeRender (16)

Pop-Pop was a gentle soul who did not like to be fussed over and preferred to stay in the background of things except for when he was performing. He had a beautiful voice and would sing to us while he played his guitar or banjo. For years he, along with three of my uncles, had a radio show and they often played in small clubs. This was before my time, though it was spoken of often and people still requested to hear him play when we went to Bissert’s or Schaefer’s for dinner.FullSizeRender (12)

I wasn’t a part of his life when he was playing cards with Cab Calloway or accompanying Billie Holiday as she sang. I hadn’t been born when he was in Europe and Africa as a combat engineer, going ahead of our troops to secure communication lines during the second world war. It was years and years before I learned of how my grandmother had broken their engagement and married another man. Heartbroken, Pop-Pop entered into a disastrous first marriage that ended when he came home on leave and discovered his wife with another man. By the end of the war Pop-Pop was divorced and Nana was widowed and they were finally married. FullSizeRender (14)

These details were not a part of my life with him, nor did any of those things matter to me. In my eyes he was a star, my knight in shining armor, my hero. It was Pop-Pop who walked me home from school every day, who taught me to sing and dance, who showed me the importance of following directions and, most importantly, he taught me the value of kindness. Kindness, even then, was underrated, but still remains the most valuable gift anyone can give.

I carry in my heart all he taught me and have passed his lessons on to my own children. My son is named Louis in honor of him. I believe Pop-Pop still watches over me and is my angel, not only at Christmas but everyday.

On this Sunday, the twenty-third of December, I will lift a glass of beer in remembrance of the man I adored, a man who brought happiness to all who knew him.FullSizeRender (15)Dear Reader, who is a special person you remember during the holidays?


26 Thoughts

  1. What a beautiful story, Kim. He indeed sounds like a very special man. I don’t remember any particular person, but I do miss having my sons home – neither one this year for the first time – and I have such fond memories of Christmases past when they were young. A Merry Christmas to you, and maybe I’ll have a beer in honor of Popop later, too.

  2. You are lucky to have known him and enjoyed his company and his stories. I never met either of my grandfathers, and only one grandmother, and their stories were nowhere near as exciting.

  3. My husband’s Dad’s birthday is also December 23rd. He would have been 99. My Dad was born the same year but on December 31st. We hold both men in love our hearts and with sweet memories.

    There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think of our wonderful daughter who went to her heavenly home at the young age of 17. Christmas time always bring up the thought of “what”. What would she be doing? What would her life be like – married, kids, career? What would our lives be like if she had lived? Knowing that we aren’t to question why, we hold on the memories of past Christmas’ and smile with the love that’s there for all those that have gone before and think about what a wonderful place heaven is on Christmas when they celebrate Jesus’ birthday together! <3
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. What a wonderful memory, Kim. I miss my grandparents at the holidays. My grandmother used real tinsel on her tree – always – and it was so fun to pick it off our clothes after we left. And my grandfather always had a stash of snacks to share.

  5. Your pop sounds like he was a wonderful man. He has definitely left you wonderful gifts!
    My mom was a wonderful giving person. She loved life and people. I’m so thankful for her!

  6. Hi Kim,

    What a wonderful and touching story.

    At Christmas, the two people I most remember are my mother and my grandmother. I’ve written here about my mother, but never my grandmother, so I’ll talk a bit about her today.

    My grandmother was in her late 70’s when I was born, and the one thing I most remember the rest of my family saying about her is that I should have seen her in her prime.

    Well, if I had only the privilege of knowing her in her dotage, her prime must have been remarkable indeed. I remember as being the greatest force of nature I ever encountered, then or now. She had so many talents, skills, and interests, there’s no way for me to even list them all, much less describe the level of skill, expertise, and intensity she brought to each of them.

    But more than any other single thing, she was a teacher. For many years she ran a private school (then the only accredited non-church-affiliated private school in California). I know that she was still running it and teaching when I was five or six, and she was 80 by then. Of course, she taught me, even as an infant, and I know I was reading before I was four.

    A funny side note. When I was in the first grade (in a public school), my teacher sent a note home telling my mother that I wasn’t “ready for reading.” The next day, my mother took off the day from work, went into my school, and very sweetly told my teacher she thought that perhaps she was mistaken. When my teacher stuck to her guns, my mother had me read the teacher a chapter from Tom Sawyer (the book I was currently reading at home). After that, I guess the teacher concluded I was “ready for reading” after all.

    Back to my grandmother. One of my most vivid memories of her was in the last year of her life, in her wheelchair at the kitchen table with my two-year-old cousin sitting on the table in front of her. By this time she was functionally both blind and deaf, but there she was teaching him the alphabet.

    Yes, she was fundamentally and always a teacher.

    But there was much more to her life. At a time when most women were expected to stay home and function only as housewives, my grandmother was an active and powerful lobbyist. Following the death of a young friend, she became a crusader for the pasteurization of milk. At that time, the Milk Lobby was virtually all-powerful in California, and I remember being shown editorials in the Sacramento Bee saying, “If Mrs. Webster would stay home and tend to her family, then the children of California would get their milk!” I should add that she was successful in this effort and, almost single-handedly convinced (some in the family would say coerced) the legislature to pass the bill. Yes, she was a force of nature.

    So, this Christmas as I write this I’m remembering my grandmother, the love she had for me, the love I had for her, and her remarkable life achievements.

  7. Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was born. My father’s mother used to make apple pies for the holidays. I remember she would let my younger brother and me make shapes out of the leftover dough and she’d bake them for us.

  8. Oh my, I’m weeping. He sounds wonderful. My grandparents Stockbridge were that to me. I had different relationships with each if them, but adored them both. And miss them, though they live on in stories.

    Merry Christmas my friend.

    PS, lights are enough

    1. I was close to both my Nana and Pop-Pop, but I don’t think I really appreciated her until I was an adult and could see how strong a woman she was instead of seeing her as bossy. I miss them both every single day. I hope you and your lovely family have a merry Christmas!

  9. I miss my grandparents (I called my grandfathers Pop Pop, too), my parents, Aunt Fritz, and especially my little brother. Bob was pretty special. I missed him singing in the cantata last week, seeing the Spider-Man movie, and reading a book about elephants in South Africa. Bob loved to travel and take pictures, especially of animals. He’d been to Africa about 5 times and read lots of books about it.

    1. Christmas time is such a mixed bag of emotions. I cry when I pick up a certain ornament, then I’m laughing over some crazy memory surrounding it. I hope you have a great holiday, Sally!

  10. What wonderful memories you have of Pop-Pop. I only knew one grandpa but he was special to me. I just thought it was so neat that he was so old and was still active. He died at 92 when I was 10. I wish I had known by grandma (his wife). She dies when I was 3, but I understand she was really neat woman. I’m sure I would have loved her and her active life. Both of them were dairy farmers and were real farm folks, but they had so many other interests, too. I miss not being a part of their lives.

    But we DO have our daughter home for Christmas and we are as delighted as ever.

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