There were many things that my Pappap held close to his heart. At the forefront of that list was family and food. One of my favorite memories was when our family got together for Father's Day lunch at the Olive Garden one year. He and my grandmother arrived and Pappap was greeted by me and free passed appetizers and was faced with a decision: hug Alli or enjoy some free eggplant parm. The choice was tough. Pappap never turned down free food. So before the waitress disappeared and took the free food with her, Pappap went in for a quick hug and then chased after the waitress. It was a win for everyone.
Free anything was probably a close third behind family and food, and the best food was free food. Once, we went to a Chicago Cubs game, and as we were getting ready to leave, there was someone passing out jalapeno chips. Pappap had two handfuls and asked my brother and I to go get some more for him. At the end, we had two backpacks full and he says, "Do you guys like these kind of chips?" I told him no and he goes "Me either. But they're free, so we'll take them home." My brother and I laughed about it most of the bus ride home and every year since. Most recently he said, if its free get in line twice.
When you lose someone that has had such a profound impact on your life, you grieve a little more. Cry a little heavier. You realize all of the parts of your life they have touched. You hope you've learned all you can from them.
Pappap's stamp in on many parts of my life. He and I, we're cut from the same cloth. It's hard to say that without sounding arrogant. He was a great man and we shared many values. He was a hard worker. Strong, diligent, caring, loving, quiet.
Pappap was a man of few words. So much so that I remember a Christmas where he maybe said a handful of words. But he was always listening, always observing. Whenever I called my grandparents, I would hear Pappap talk on three occasions.
When my brother was in middle school, Pappap almost got kicked out of a match for berating the ref on a bad call he gave my brother. Once my brother was in high school, I was warned by the ref for berating him on a bad call against our rival school. You could say we were passionate supporters. Pappap was at every match he could be at for my brother and always called after the ones he could make. He knew the importance of showing up and being there for those that are most important to you.
Since before I was born, Pappap was in my life. He came to Illinois from South Carolina to decorate my room in a Winnie the Pooh theme. My grandparents eventually moved back up to Illinois to be involved our lives. Throughout my life, Pappap has been shaping it in ways I wouldn't realize until I was older. He taught me about the importance of working hard. He taught me that will power is just as important as having the right skills. He showed me what a good marriages, a true partnership, looks like. He always encouraged me to go after my dreams.
Even since his passing, Pappap is still teaching me the little things are the most important memories of all. Evidently, when I was seven years old, I had gotten back from a trip with my family and had a whole three dollars left over. I decided to write my Pappap a card and share my three dollars with him. I don't actually remember doing this. But upon getting into Chicago this weekend for his memorial, my dad handed me this card with the three dollars in it. Pappap has been saving this in his safety deposit box since 1998. I have never been so humbled by anything in my entire life.
While I miss him more than anything, I am happy that he's no longer in pain. I'm am so fortunate that he was in my life and that he helped shaped my perspective on the world and I will never take that for granted.
I love you Pappap.