There are some people in life who touch your soul like no others. Just knowing themmakes you a better person. My grandfather was one of those people. Sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen the aroma of turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, and apple pie wafted through the air. I was ten and bursting with excitement, waiting for Pop-Pop to arrive home. I could hear the rumbling of his car engine as he pulled into the driveway. I sprinted for the back door, unable to wait another moment to greet him. The crisp autumn air engulfed my face. A chill ran through me and I realized I hadn’t put on my jacket.
Suddenly, I felt strong arms lifting me high in the air and I squealed with delight. Encased in a massive bear hug, I buried my face in his chest. I breathed in the scent of Old Spice and still detected a hint of summertime pastures, though his farming days were long gone. His laughter filled a room and his smile shown as bright as a new penny. His jovial tone was soothing and made the world a safer place. His eyes, wise and knowing, were filled with love and adoration for his family and friends. A tall man, he could easily be mistaken as intimidating to those who did not have the privilege of knowing him. He kept his hair short and his 5 o’clock shadow long.
We hurried into the house. The warmth inside was like a cozy bed at the end of a hard days work. As I looked at this man, embracing my grandmother as if it were the first time, I thought of all that he was: a loving father to two grown sons, a loyal husband, an enthusiastic grandfather, a farmer, and a friend to everyone. He raised rabbits and sunflowers, working his whole life to build a home and future for his family. He was America.
My thoughts were interrupted by his booming voice asking who was hungry. I scurried to the table, decorated with bright gold, burgundy, and amber leaves and found my place. Pop-Pop called out to my father and uncle that it was dinner time. Through the open door the sound of lawnmowers, the last of the season, spread through the dining room. We sat down to enjoy the delectable meal my grandmother had prepared and bowed our heads to pray. Pop-Pop gave thanks for his family, his friends, the food provided to us, and for those who do not enjoy the luxuries that we are blessed with. I knew that I would remember that prayer forever
After we had finished, he and Grandma washed the dishes and talked about the day. I sat in silence wishing to some day find the same love and happiness that my grandparents had together. He saw me staring and scooped me up once again. His hands, rough but warm, were on my cheeks and he started singing, “Me and my R.C. Me and my R.C.” and danced me around and around the kitchen as my grandmother clapped along. I was his first grandchild and he loved me more than words could describe. I giggled and kissed him on his furry cheek. Tears began streaming down his face. His voice, once buoyant, was saddened as he told me it was time for him to go. I began to sob and clung to his faded flannel shirt. My tears soaked into the soft material. I could not imagine not having him in my life and I held on with all my might.
I sit up in bed. I can still hear his laughter in my head. Another dream; I have so many of Pop-Pop. How can a person you have never met touch you so deeply? My grandfather died of a massive heart attack when I was 2 days old. I never had the enjoyment of having him as a part of my world. I feel as if I know him through family stories and photos. I have heard all of his jokes. I know how he bragged about me to everyone when I was born; how he termed the phrase “Me and my R.C.” from the first and middle initials of my name and sang it to the RC Cola commercial jingles that were popular during the time when I was born. I know how much he loved his family and never took anything for granted. He was my grandmother’s one and only true love. I have been told the story of how they met and how he proposed. He had always wanted two sons named Billy and Bobby. He and Grandma raised those boys to be devoted husbands and fathers to their families. In my heart I am sure that he would be proud of me and I love him deeply although we have not met except in my dreams. I can envision how he sounded, his scent, what it would have been like to hug and play with him, and I miss him. My bedroom is chilly and dark. The aroma of home-made apple pie lingers in my nostrils and although my heart aches, I think about Pop-Pop one more time before drifting back off to sleep and smile.