17 years ago my grandfather, who we all referred to as “poppy” passed away. I was nine-years-old when he died and even though I was so young, I still knew what death was. I knew that meant I wouldn’t get to play with him anymore or he wouldn’t keep a close eye on me as I walked across the street to play with friends and I knew that meant this was goodbye for now.
A few weeks ago, it dawned on me that I’ve spent more of my life without my poppy than with him. So many big life events have happened since he’s been gone; I graduated high school and college, established myself in my career, met the love of my life and got married. All of these beautiful moments and I wasn’t able to celebrate them with him. Don’t get me wrong, in my heart I believe he is watching over me and his presence is felt every day, but there is nothing like spending joyous moments with your loved ones, face to face.
I’ve written about my grandparents before and I’ve also mentioned that I come from a single parent household. To say the least, my poppy was a huge part of my life – he was the first man I ever loved and he was my fatherhood figure, along with my two uncles. I will forever be grateful for the time that I did get to spend with my poppy, those nine fundamental years of my life impacted me so greatly that when I first met my husband, I knew he was the one because he reminded me of my grandpa. He was kind, caring, cautious and had the same sense of humor. Coincidentally, my husband also used to call his grandfather poppy – if that isn’t fate, I don’t know what is.
On our wedding day we found ways to incorporate our loved ones that were there in spirit. These were ways of reassuring everyone that loved them that their presence was felt that day.
On my bouquet I had small picture charms of my husband’s paternal grandparents, my grandparents and his maternal grandparents.
The picture to the left is of my grandparents and to the right is my husband’s paternal grandparents. This was featured on our gift table during our wedding reception.
Although I’ve lived most of my life without my poppy, by finding ways to pay tribute to him during special occasions I feel whole, I feel as if he has never left my side. I’m blessed to say that I have not let time efface the memories that I have of my loved ones that are no longer here. I feel honored to know the sacrifices my poppy made in order for his family to thrive and I carry on his legacy, as well as the legacy of other departed souls.
To those of you reading this, I promise I didn’t write this to make you sad – I wrote this to commemorate a man who I’ll continue to remember for the rest of my life. It’s an honor for me to talk about my poppy and I hope this serves as a reminder for anyone who still has their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or anyone that has been a crucial part of your life around to embrace them every single day and hug them a little tighter every time you see them. I feel blessed that someday I’ll be able to pass on such fond memories of my poppy and others onto my children.
Nicole is a DIY advocate, amateur chef, fitness fanatic, wife and animal lover. She is the proud pet mom of two large cats that she claims act like dogs. If Nicole isn’t cooking or crafting, she is out exploring new restaurants and attractions with her husband around Cleveland, the city that has taken her heart. Nicole is the Traffic & Conversion Manager at Step2.