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.
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.
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.
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.Dear Reader, who is a special person you remember during the holidays?