A Note To David

Poppa 2

Hey, Poppa.

It’s been a whole year. Today is a year.

You know, you don’t always understand how much influence a person has over you until you have to live life without that person. Do you know how many times I see a bird and think of you? Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to drive up into your driveway and tell you about my trip to Ireland or something I heard on the news? I’ve read so many books I want to tell you about. It’s the everyday things that are the hardest. It’s in the mundane you are missed the most.

Please don’t worry. I’m not moping around mourning you every day. None of us do that. What kind of testament to your life would that be? All sadness all the time? You’d be so mad if that’s all we had left of you. But some days I miss you so much that it feels like I’ve been walloped in the stomach with a bag of rocks. My breath hurts and I just can’t see my way out of the tears. Those days pass, though, and I’m left seeing you in so many other ways, happy ways.

The whole family has been reading your journals. Every morning you sat in your chair and wrote about the weather or what project you were finishing. We now take turns sitting in your chair, and when one of us finds our name, we get giddy and read to everyone else what you said. Isn’t that funny, that my name in your handwriting is so special to me? You said my name a thousand times but when you wrote about me, that means you thought about me when I wasn’t there. Oh God, that hurts. And speaking of God, we never talked about that. Why didn’t we talk about that? But every day, no matter what kind of pain you were having in your feet or what sort of financial thing you dealt with or what kind of joy you experienced, you thanked God. “Thank you, Lord,” was the way you ended every entry, every day. A life well lived. You were steady, even to the end.

Sometimes one of us will see an owl or a kestrel and it feels like you are checking on us, so we say hello. We cry a little but we still just want to say hi, to let you know that we see you in everything and that we still see things through the lens of your eyes. Mom let us read one of your love letters. Only one, but it was so powerful, so you. You ended it with “Your children are my children” and whether or not that letter won you my mother’s heart, it won you mine. You already had it, of course, but I could look back over all the years I had with you and know you meant it. I never had to read a letter to know how you felt. I was your child, too.

Poppa, I miss your hands. I miss walking by your bedroom at night and seeing the top of your head over a book and your feet sticking out from under the blanket. I miss your stories. I even miss the way you’d talk about something that was so far over my head yet I felt compelled to nod and say “uh-huh” despite the fact you’d lost me in the first sentence. You loved Willie Nelson but as much as I love you, I don’t miss listening to that music one bit. Sorry. Christmas and Thanksgiving – the year of the firsts – those were melancholy in moments but we all knew that had you been with us, you wouldn’t have really been with us once you got your hands on a gun stock or a book. Opening day of deer season – that was the worst. I missed the phone call I should have gotten about how you spent three minutes getting to your deer stand, shot the biggest buck anyone has ever seen within one minute of settling in, and then spent nine minutes getting it home, much to the disgust of every other person you ever hunted with. No one ever gets a deer as fast as you. That day was hard.

Poppa, we are okay. Mom misses you the most. Living without you is the hardest thing she’s ever done but you know how she raised us all. Independent. Fierce. Substantial. She is those things – that’s how you teach someone else to be those things. It’s just that some days the loss of you wears down the fierce and the substantial. Some days are harder than others. Today is one of those. I’m so sorry we lost you. I wish we never had to experience loss. But never experiencing loss means never having loved and that will never do. I lost you, Poppa, and that hurts so badly but I know that it means I loved you so much more. I’d never trade that out, never. Love rules, even over loss.

Today we will wave to you. Today we will talk about you a lot. Today we will mourn but we will also laugh and we will also love. You left us, but we are coming to you. Give us time. We will see you again. I’m just so damn happy about that.

In your words, Poppa, Thank You, Lord.

As ever, your favorite oldest daughter,



10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Felix
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 08:53:41

    That was a beautiful tribute to your Poppa. I felt every word and cried along with you. Thank you for sharing that with all of us. Great Big HUGS!!!


  2. Lynnette
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 09:02:32

    Mandy, this explains so much of who you are. This really touched my heart! Love Lynnette.


  3. Lori
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 13:14:07

    This has so touched my heart. What you say and feel are much like I feel about those I have lost. Thank you for sharing!


  4. crayolaj74
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 19:14:09

    Martie was here. I love you.


  5. Auntie Pastel
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 21:04:09

    Sweet memories that I will always cherish! A beautiful man!


  6. Michelle Rhea
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 21:20:53

    I heard about this letter this am and thought… “I don’t want to rush through this before work” I just settled down and read it and all I can say is wow… What a beautiful letter, I know it just melted his heart. He is so missed… Because he was so loved. Love you!


  7. Bruce
    Mar 28, 2014 @ 09:11:59

    Wow! I can only hope to leave my children with such a beautiful memory of me.


  8. Dave Rhea
    Mar 28, 2014 @ 15:28:44

    Great stuff, sis.


  9. Danette Wells
    Mar 28, 2014 @ 19:07:26

    What a beautiful touching letter, Mandy.


  10. LaCole
    Apr 02, 2014 @ 13:28:42

    Reading about Poppa’s life through your eyes and heart has inspire me. I’m fighting back tears, love you.


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