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My days with Poppa


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CapnCappy #1 Posted 10 March 2017 - 05:05 PM

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All of my grandfathers have passed.

 

So when my wife’s grandfather retired, having always worked almost every waking hour of every day, he was kind of lost. He took to walking our city, chatting with people and basically being bored.

 

One day, some ten years ago, on a summer day, I was grilling as I usually do most days in the summer and Poppa came wandering up the driveway. I offered him a chair. I offered him a shot of bourbon whiskey. And that was the day I became his bartender and gossip buddy.

 

Gram, who Poppa has been married to for over 60 years, doesn’t really approve of his drinking. Won’t let him keep alcohol in the house. So the bar became our secret. Of course Gram had to know over the years.

 

Poppa leaves. Poppa comes home smelling of bourbon. As he was leaving my house, he would always say “and thanks for the whiskey” and I would always reply “Poppa, I don’t know what you’re talking about and will deny everything.”

 

He would come over most any nice day and we’d sit and talk shop and drink whiskey. Poppa said he was a Wild Turkey drinker but I plied him with a range of bourbons over the years and he finally settled on Elijah Craig as his favorite and that became Poppa’s bottle. He would often offer me money for his whiskey and I would often tell him that his money was no good here.

 

Over the years, Poppa has told me about growing up on the farm, his adventures with his brothers, how he met and courted the love of his life.  We’ve talked about kids and grandkids. He lives for and misses work. Wishes he could drive. Doesn’t like not being able to do anything anymore. I wished he had a hobby but he’s stubborn and proud. Doesn’t want people fussing.

 

Poppa’s always had problems with his eyes. He joined the Navy and was discharged because he has macular degeneration. It was never really a problem for him until his later years. And what started off as Poppa walking around town, chatting with people, has slowly turned into Poppa going almost completely blind. His walks have gotten to be more and more close to home and there were many days I followed him all the way home even though he didn’t know I was there. He doesn’t like people fussing.

 

And he has gotten smaller and smaller. What started off as two shots of whiskey, turned to one, turned to a half, turned to none. He has been on too many medications to have any. He just comes over to chat on good days. I offer him coffee or a soda but I know he doesn’t want that.

 

Poppa’s health has taken a nose dive this week and he’s in the hospital. I think he’s nearing the end.

 

I am so glad for my time with him. If you have a grandparent still alive, make the investment, spend some time with them. I really enjoyed my days with Poppa.



pewpewpew42 #2 Posted 10 March 2017 - 05:12 PM

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Oh get off that computer and spend time with your grandfather!

 

Not to be mean, but why waste time asking us? Seriously, go visit him.


Edited by pewpewpew42, 10 March 2017 - 05:15 PM.

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PrairiePlayer #3 Posted 10 March 2017 - 05:17 PM

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Poppa reminds me of my own grandfather, an immigrant from Germany who made a living as a carpenter.  I never met a harder-working individual in my life and he wore the same coveralls after he retired that he wore every day while working.  Stubborn, proud and opinionated to a fault, he was also my hero growing up and still my most admired man long after he passed away.  My grandfather, however, had a soft spot for his grandchildren and would spend hours talking about his life as a boy and just telling outrageous stories (lies).  I miss him.   

Pz_Jager #4 Posted 10 March 2017 - 05:35 PM

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Never had the chance to meet my grandfather( lived in austria and i was born in canada) and my father passed away when i was young. So take it from me...ENJOY every minute you can cause as they say.." You don't miss it till its gone"

AspiringCodger #5 Posted 10 March 2017 - 05:39 PM

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I'm sorry about this, Cap.  I lost my father about six weeks ago.  He was a workaholic too, but he was actually looking forward to retiring.  I imagine it would have been a similar situation to Poppa if he made it that far though.  Either way, I didn't really make a lot of time for him when he was healthy.  I did spend quite a bit of time with him after his cancer diagnoses a little over a year ago.  Took him to his appointments, helped out where he would let me, etc.  But, his health declined pretty quickly and I still regret every day not spending more time with him when he was well enough to enjoy our visits.  The guilt about this can still be overwhelming at times.  I guess what I'm saying is parents, grandparents, family in general...  even friends... You never know what will happen or when, so make time for them.  

Ace_04 #6 Posted 10 March 2017 - 05:47 PM

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View Postpewpewpew42, on 10 March 2017 - 12:12 PM, said:

Oh get off that computer and spend time with your grandfather!

 

Not to be mean, but why waste time asking us? Seriously, go visit him.

 

He wasn't asking us anything.

 

He was just sharing a wonderful story about his grandfather.  

 

Cappy, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.  There's some great sentimentality in there that we can all relate to in some way.


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Xenostryker #7 Posted 10 March 2017 - 06:13 PM

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I wish my grandfathers were still around. :(

 


0658 #8 Posted 10 March 2017 - 06:32 PM

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Great story and great advice.  My grandparents are long gone; I wish I had been old enough have conversations with them like you have had with your Grandfather.  There is so much about him I would have loved to have known.

 

My condolences to you and your family if the worst should happen.

 

My Mother passed away at 94; I am glad I had the opportunity  to talk to her like you were able to talk to your Grandfather.  The pain lessens but does not go away.



Khafni #9 Posted 10 March 2017 - 06:34 PM

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Cappy, thanks for sharing this with us. I adored my PawPaw Frenchie and enjoyed my visits with him and MawMaw immensely. He would take me with him to catch bait shrimp from the river and I would always "help" him boiling the crabs or crawfish. I was about 6 years old when he passed away. I miss him dearly.

 

Hopefully your Poppa will get better and you can spend more quality time with him.

 

 


 

 


DoomStomper #10 Posted 10 March 2017 - 06:40 PM

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Great post, Cappy.

 

All of my grandparents passed while I was in my teens, and I very much regret not spending more time with them back when I had the chance.  Definitely missed out on some good stories.

 

Sorry to hear about your Poppa's worsening condition, but kudos for making the most of your time with him while you could.  Tonight, I'll be raising a glass of Elijah Craig to the greatest generation.


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CapnCappy #11 Posted 10 March 2017 - 10:10 PM

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Thanks for all the positives. Going to see him in a few minutes. I hate hospitals.



Phoenix_jz #12 Posted 11 March 2017 - 12:57 AM

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I'm terribly sorry to hear about that... My mom's parents passed when I was in elementary school, but my dad's parents are still alive.

 

I grew up listening to their many stories about life before 'the war' (WWII, for them it's always just been 'the war'), during it, and then after, as well as coming to the US and making a life here. We've had a couple scares over the last year with them, we seriously thought there was a chance we might lose my nonno. They live only a 30 minute drive away, so we've always seen them very often... but a few months back, during a particularly bad time, when I seriously had been thinking that they might be the last few weeks I'd ever be able to see him, I came to the realization that, no matter how much time you spend with them, it will simply never be enough. I still visit them just as often, and they've been doing a lot better in the last month... 

 

Agh, I'm terrible with these kinds of things. I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's hard to understand how precious something truly is until you start to realize it might be taken from you. It's been hard to watch, over the course of the 18 years I've known him, as he's slowly gotten weaker. He used to play soccer with my sister and I in the back yard when we were little. Now, he spends most of the time in his chair, and if he's walking he needs a cane, if his legs are up to it. Of course, that doesn't stop him from trying to go it on nothing but his own two feet, and if he's feeling up to it, then damnit, he's walking! But that's been less and less as time goes on.

 

My advice for anyone is; Visit them as much as you can, because you'll never know when you get that phone call or text that starts with "Don't panic, but..." The time you spend with them will never seem like enough, but it's truly invaluable, more precious than all the riches in the world, and then some.

 

And never forget how much it means to them as well. 

 

I'm terribly sorry about the situation, Cappy, and I hope it turns out alright... but even if it doesn't, just know however valuable the time you've spent with Poppa feels, it's probably felt ten times more valuable to him. 


 

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CapnCappy #13 Posted 28 March 2017 - 01:36 PM

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Just a quick update.


 

Poppa survived the hospital, including an accidental release (yes, sent him home) while he was in the middle of a nasty bowel infection. The infection was a result of his heavy antibiotic dosage. He lost about 10 pounds he really didn't need to lose.


 

He's currently in a skilled care facility where they're trying to get his strength back enough so he can walk on his own again. Then maybe they'll let him go home with daily nurse visits.


 

His dementia is markedly worse and I think he only remembers his kids and wife. We visit but I don't think he knows who we are anymore.



Jim_Byrnes #14 Posted 30 March 2017 - 12:46 AM

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Mezurashi #15 Posted 30 March 2017 - 01:18 AM

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That's a touching post. Reminds me of my own grandpa who was in the Army.

I hope he gets better.

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1Sherman #16 Posted 30 March 2017 - 01:45 AM

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This reminds me of my Oma. Back in June of last year, her health started deteriorating rapidly. Previously, she'd been talkative, active, and all-round great person to know, even past her 90th birthday. She'd made pyjamas for myself, my sister, and my cousins for years before stopping about 2 years before. She always had somewhere to go, something to do, and someone to talk to. She was always a great person to talk to, always had something to say that I found worth hearing and she was always more than happy to hear me talk her ear off as well, be it about the stuff that had recently caught my fancy, the huge collection of National Geographic issues and tractor calendars she had that I loved to read, or just about anything else. My dad also told me stories about her and my late Opa, about their life in the Netherlands during the Depression and WWII, how they came to Canada, what it was like growing up on the farm, etc. 

 

But that June, it all stopped. She could barely walk, she talked much less, and she sat around doing nothing all day. Her 3 sons and 1 daughter (aka my dad, two of my uncles, and my aunt on that side of the family) got her a nurse who helped take care of her, but it didn't help. We then tried moving her into a retirement home, but her condition still worsened so she went into a hospital. By this point, weekly news about what was happening to her were a norm in my house and weekly calls to her by my parents, my relatives, and myself kept all our spirits up, but I hated seeing her fall apart to the point where I asked to stop hearing updates about her until she was gone. I just couldn't handle it. The last time I saw her was about 2 weeks before she died. She was lying in a room in the ER, pale as a ghost. She could barely talk, she couldn't walk, and she couldn't even feed herself. It took pretty much all of my mental fortitude to sit there and hold her hand without bursting into tears.

 

On September 30, 2016, my Oma died at the age of 90. The doctors described her downturn as a "prolonged heart attack". Early in October, I spent nearly 4 hours shaking hands and meeting hundreds of people I didn't even know existed at the visitation. I read a Bible reading at the funeral mass (she was a devout Catholic all her life) and twice I just about cried my eyes out. Even just writing this I'm getting a bit choked up. For Christmas, I got a blanket made by my aunt using some of the fabric that my Oma always had ready to stitch and sew into something and at the dinner, I made a toast about how even though she wasn't physically there with us, she would always be there in memory and in spirit. She always was and always will be one of the greatest, kindest, most compassionate, and most interesting people I've ever known. I miss her every day.

 

TL;DR you and your Poppa have my support until the very end Cappy. I hope that the time you spent with him and the time you have left with him are well spent and cherished forever.


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CapnCappy #17 Posted 20 April 2017 - 07:36 PM

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Update. Poppa going to the the skilled care facility made things worse.


 

He broke a hip in a fall out of bed (no bed alarms) and he became very dehydrated to the point where his O2 and BP dropped to dangerous levels so back to the hospital he went. He will not be going back to that place.


 

Had surgery on the hip, which was very successful, but he's just so fed up with everything that he refused to eat. Frankly, he's already so skinny I could carry him like a child. He wants to go home but his C. Diff. infection is back and the hospital says no.


 

Hospice has stepped in and been wonderful. They said "We will make it happen. He will go home." They also told Gram not to worry about a hospital bill or a hospice bill. Everything will be covered. Huge weights off the family.

We're off to their house tonight to move stuff so there's room for a hospital bed and equipment and whatever else they need.


 

Poppa is going home.
 



Shadow_1964 #18 Posted 03 May 2017 - 10:31 AM

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View PostCapnCappy, on 10 March 2017 - 08:05 AM, said:

All of my grandfathers have passed.

 

So when my wife’s grandfather retired, having always worked almost every waking hour of every day, he was kind of lost. He took to walking our city, chatting with people and basically being bored.

 

One day, some ten years ago, on a summer day, I was grilling as I usually do most days in the summer and Poppa came wandering up the driveway. I offered him a chair. I offered him a shot of bourbon whiskey. And that was the day I became his bartender and gossip buddy.

 

Gram, who Poppa has been married to for over 60 years, doesn’t really approve of his drinking. Won’t let him keep alcohol in the house. So the bar became our secret. Of course Gram had to know over the years.

 

Poppa leaves. Poppa comes home smelling of bourbon. As he was leaving my house, he would always say “and thanks for the whiskey” and I would always reply “Poppa, I don’t know what you’re talking about and will deny everything.”

 

He would come over most any nice day and we’d sit and talk shop and drink whiskey. Poppa said he was a Wild Turkey drinker but I plied him with a range of bourbons over the years and he finally settled on Elijah Craig as his favorite and that became Poppa’s bottle. He would often offer me money for his whiskey and I would often tell him that his money was no good here.

 

Over the years, Poppa has told me about growing up on the farm, his adventures with his brothers, how he met and courted the love of his life.  We’ve talked about kids and grandkids. He lives for and misses work. Wishes he could drive. Doesn’t like not being able to do anything anymore. I wished he had a hobby but he’s stubborn and proud. Doesn’t want people fussing.

 

Poppa’s always had problems with his eyes. He joined the Navy and was discharged because he has macular degeneration. It was never really a problem for him until his later years. And what started off as Poppa walking around town, chatting with people, has slowly turned into Poppa going almost completely blind. His walks have gotten to be more and more close to home and there were many days I followed him all the way home even though he didn’t know I was there. He doesn’t like people fussing.

 

And he has gotten smaller and smaller. What started off as two shots of whiskey, turned to one, turned to a half, turned to none. He has been on too many medications to have any. He just comes over to chat on good days. I offer him coffee or a soda but I know he doesn’t want that.

 

Poppa’s health has taken a nose dive this week and he’s in the hospital. I think he’s nearing the end.

 

I am so glad for my time with him. If you have a grandparent still alive, make the investment, spend some time with them. I really enjoyed my days with Poppa.

 

Cappy, this hits so close to home for me. I'm actually crying right now. God bless you and Poppa.

Rolkatsuki #19 Posted 03 May 2017 - 12:04 PM

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My Grandad passed a way peacefully some years ago from what I heard from my uncles he was of a senior Sargeant rank at the time of WWII last time I visited him he had the old Springfield M1903 sitting at the corner of his bedroom behind the door. Wish I talk more to him

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LordSteve #20 Posted 03 May 2017 - 01:32 PM

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View PostCapnCappy, on 10 March 2017 - 12:05 PM, said:

All of my grandfathers have passed.

 

So when my wife’s grandfather retired, having always worked almost every waking hour of every day, he was kind of lost. He took to walking our city, chatting with people and basically being bored.

 

One day, some ten years ago, on a summer day, I was grilling as I usually do most days in the summer and Poppa came wandering up the driveway. I offered him a chair. I offered him a shot of bourbon whiskey. And that was the day I became his bartender and gossip buddy.

 

Gram, who Poppa has been married to for over 60 years, doesn’t really approve of his drinking. Won’t let him keep alcohol in the house. So the bar became our secret. Of course Gram had to know over the years.

 

Poppa leaves. Poppa comes home smelling of bourbon. As he was leaving my house, he would always say “and thanks for the whiskey” and I would always reply “Poppa, I don’t know what you’re talking about and will deny everything.”

 

He would come over most any nice day and we’d sit and talk shop and drink whiskey. Poppa said he was a Wild Turkey drinker but I plied him with a range of bourbons over the years and he finally settled on Elijah Craig as his favorite and that became Poppa’s bottle. He would often offer me money for his whiskey and I would often tell him that his money was no good here.

 

Over the years, Poppa has told me about growing up on the farm, his adventures with his brothers, how he met and courted the love of his life.  We’ve talked about kids and grandkids. He lives for and misses work. Wishes he could drive. Doesn’t like not being able to do anything anymore. I wished he had a hobby but he’s stubborn and proud. Doesn’t want people fussing.

 

Poppa’s always had problems with his eyes. He joined the Navy and was discharged because he has macular degeneration. It was never really a problem for him until his later years. And what started off as Poppa walking around town, chatting with people, has slowly turned into Poppa going almost completely blind. His walks have gotten to be more and more close to home and there were many days I followed him all the way home even though he didn’t know I was there. He doesn’t like people fussing.

 

And he has gotten smaller and smaller. What started off as two shots of whiskey, turned to one, turned to a half, turned to none. He has been on too many medications to have any. He just comes over to chat on good days. I offer him coffee or a soda but I know he doesn’t want that.

 

Poppa’s health has taken a nose dive this week and he’s in the hospital. I think he’s nearing the end.

 

I am so glad for my time with him. If you have a grandparent still alive, make the investment, spend some time with them. I really enjoyed my days with Poppa.

 

My Dad told me you do not realize the golden opportunity you have with Grandparents or old folks until they are gone. Count yourself blessed you got to peer into his life extraordinaire! I remember my Grandmother telling me about life in Germany immediately after WW2 and what it was like. A living history book. So special.

 






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