Silence Broken

“You seem quiet.  Are you alright?”

I get that question a lot lately.  In many ways I am quiet now.  I don’t write.  I talk, but maybe not with the same exuberance anymore.  I want to write.  I want to talk.  I want to be my happy self, but I’ve not been exactly in that place for the last month.  I feel like there’s a giant elephant in the room yet despite doing my best to avoid him, he is not going away.  So let’s discuss the elephant.

Losing Poppa has me thinking a lot about life.  I picture it in my head as a river, strong and steady, moving rapidly and forcefully to the final destination which is what?  Here on Earth I don’t know.  But along the way life runs into strainers.  A tree stump in the stream.  A pile of logs  that beavers arranged into a dam.  The loss of a parent.  In my head I’ve been stuck on that strainer for the last month, pressed against that tree stump by the force of the current and it makes me lose my breath.  I see the life swirling around me and people floating by but I’m held by the swift movement of the water against the wood.  Truthfully, I haven’t wanted to leave the safety of the stump and swim out into life again.  Not yet.  I can see that the water will knock me loose eventually and swallow me up but I haven’t been quite ready for the swim.

I miss Poppa.  For 35 years I got to call him mine.  I was one of those spoiled children who had two fathers, both exceptional men, who loved me.  I was already lucky with Daddy.  He didn’t get to choose me.  I was born to him.  I know, though, that if he could have chosen me he would have.  Poppa, on the other hand, did choose me.  He met my mother and then met me and Martie and then he asked us to marry him.  We did, when I was eight and Martie was six.  We don’t have a lot of life without him as part of the framework.  

There are so many memories of him to sort through.  I’m crying as I type this.  I cry every time I’ve typed this, because I’ve been working on it for weeks now.  These memories are too big for me sometimes.  My mother says a lot, “I’m not sad but I just miss him.”  I get that.  I just miss him.  How do you encapsulate a man and everything he was to you in a memory?  In a book of memories?  It’s just too big. 

I think of Poppa in two parts.  At least I did.  First is the Poppa that I knew from the beginning.  He was the man who accepted Martie and me as his own from day one, even though we were kids who probably resisted sharing our mom after having her all to ourselves for a few years.  He fixed our hair when my mom was out of town, those brushes and ponytail holders he was so unfamiliar with looping through his hands.  He brought us two brothers that Martie and I adored, even if it meant sharing our mom with two more people we were not expecting.  I remember Poppa teaching me how to shoot a variety of guns over the course of a weekend because he wanted to make sure I knew how to take care of myself if the need ever arose.  I remember him teaching me my spelling words and because simple memorization was not enough, he made sure I knew what they meant.  We all remember him making us walk the right path and follow the house rules even if we thought he didn’t know them.  He made my chicken pen.  He built my mother a barn.  He gave us his car and his time and his heart.  This Poppa makes me cry now because I want him back.  I don’t want to lose any of that, any part of him. 

The other Poppa is the one who left us.  That Poppa was the one who got so sick so fast and dealt with a tremendous amount of pain and confusion in a short amount of time.  He desperately wanted to go home and when he asked if we’d let him, we had to say no.  It was a hard time for all of us and we all felt terrible, telling him that the only thing he wanted, right or wrong, could not happen.  Even through his anger, though, and the confusion and the delirium, he never stopped loving us.  He never stopped saying, “I love you too, babe” when we said “Poppa, I love you. I’m so sorry.”  He never stopped squeezing our hands when we just needed that connection to let him know we were there.  He never stopped until he did.  It was okay to allow that Poppa to leave.  It was okay to release him because we all knew that the release was coming and that it was right.  This Poppa also makes me cry but it’s okay.

For a while I traveled around with those two Poppas in my head.  Both made me sad in different ways.  I was talking with my brother about it one day, and he simply said, “But he’s in a new body . . . ”  And just like that, I got a third Poppa.  This one is whole.  He has no pain.  His hands and his joints and his body are not broken.  His spirit is not broken.  His heart is not broken.  Instead, he is ALIVE and joyful and rejoicing!  That Poppa makes me the happiest of all.  God, in this plan, makes me the happiest of all.

So a note to Poppa, to the man who shaped all of us and loved us and who is still in us, I say this:

I love you, Poppa.  I loved you from the start and I loved you all the way through it and I loved you more at the end.  Thank you for being a father to me. Thank you for being a protector for me.  Thank you for accepting me and choosing me and loving me back.  Rest and Rejoice, Poppa.  Soon I will kick off from that tree stump and swim out into life, joyful and embracing and living the way you’d want me to because I know this is not the end.  This is just the beginning.  I will see you soon.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Martie
    May 02, 2013 @ 08:27:42

    I like the 3rd one, too. This is everything I would want to say, but you got the gift of saying it right. I love you, Jimmie. And I miss him, too.


  2. jimmiesworld
    May 02, 2013 @ 10:12:55

    You gave me half of this, Marf. We did this together.


  3. Felix
    May 02, 2013 @ 12:27:48

    Well now you have shared it with the world and we love you for it! This touched me and reminded me of the same people in my life that are also in a new body and rejoicing. Thank you for that!


  4. Coach
    May 02, 2013 @ 18:17:22

    Amen. When you start flowing down that stream again just remember that not only am I here for Martie, I am here for you. I love you!


  5. BMB
    May 02, 2013 @ 19:37:20

    Jimmie — during one or two of our many philosophical discussions, your Poppa used to tell me that water was the most relentless force on earth. Because it never rests. Always moving. Always trying to take something with it.
    Your post reminds me that sometimes we want to follow it, maybe other times not.
    When you decide to let go of that station in the middle of the stream, you can rest assured that you have your family and friends that will go with you, all the way to the mouth of the river and beyond.


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