My Grandpop, also known as PopPop when my siblings and I were tiny, passed away July 1st. He had a stroke in January of 2008, slowly recovered over many months, then had more small strokes and other problems including diabetes, complications from too many prescriptions, and finally after a mini heart attack he went to be with Jesus this July. My mom and Nana were with him when he passed away.
Grandpop was a complex man. I gather he was the youngest of many siblings, the namesake of his father, and also somewhat of a whipping boy for his older siblings. He married my Nana when he was 20 and she 19 and they had 5 children; My Uncle B., Aunt C., Mom, and Aunt W., after a baby girl who tragically only lived about a week. Grandpop was a stern man, a very religious man, and when I was a child he kind of intimidated me. But when he laughed... well when he laughed it made you warm all over it was just such a happy sound! He loved babies. He loved God. And even though he didn't always treat my Nana the best, you could tell that he loved her. As his health declined I think he began to realize how he'd been pushing people away all his life and he mellowed out alot, became more friendly and more willing to say "I love you" and "I'm sorry."
Grandpop was a talented man. You could say he could do and do well everything he set his hand to. He worked in construction, had a handyman business called "The House Doctor" and could build anything. He built an addition on a house he lived in at around 80 years old. By himself with help from my uncle B. on the weekends. He could play the organ, the harmonica, and sang some opera. He met Albert Einstein. He pastored a church. He was a true rennaisance man.
The other night I had a dream. I was at my Nana's house and saw Grandpop walking down the hallway. He looked like he had before the stroke. I saw him again later walking down the hallway, and he had again aged backwards. He walked strong and upright and his eyes had a twinkle. I went to Nana and asked her if she had seen Grandpop walking down the hall and she wouldn't answer me. I told her, "He's waiting for you you know." I have no idea why I said that. I don't believe in ghosts and in my dreams I always know that I'm dreaming. And I don't think that the dead can "wait" for the living. I believe that we go to heaven or hell when we die, end of story. Anyway, Nana responded that she couldn't think about that yet and fighting tears, she told me to leave her be. I went back down the hallway to do something and as I returned, again via the hallway toward the kitchen, there was Grandpop walking toward me. Still aging backwards; he looked about 15 years younger than the last time I saw him before he died. He was gliding toward me but he didn't see me. His face was GLOWING with joy and his bright blue eyes were fixed on something in his arms. I saw it was a tiny newborn baby girl with dark hair. At first I thought it was Chicklet but then as Grandpop got closer and walked right through me, vanishing at the end of the hallway, I saw that the baby was not Chicklet. I don't know who the baby was but I would be willing to guess it's his daughter that only lived a week. He's with her now and the radiant joy I saw on his face just blew me away. And when I woke up, instead of being creeped out, I cried with joy at seeing HIS face so full of joy. A strange dream indeed...