.Twenty-one years old, just out of school and full of “fire and wind” as my Poppy would say. Poppy was my maternal grandfather. The year he retired from his job and moved home to the farm full-time, I turned four. I was with him every day until the day I first went to school. He was at the school that same day to pick me up so I did not have to
YOURYOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW ride home on the bustake the bus home. He picked me up from school every day after that. I was raised on that family farm in central Pennsylvania, not far from Penn State University, which was where I attended school. I was home nearly every second day, being separated from my family was not easy for me. It did not help matters that I am the youngest of four children and the only boy, the heir apparent, and was treated as such, I was venerated by my 3 older sisters.
After graduation I found a job close to home and settled down to start my life as a man. Poppy and work were my life, and I was content. The unkind ravages of hard physical labor and years of drink and unhealthy food had begun to take a toll on the old man. His body was failing him with each day that passed. After eleven days in the hospital the doctors sent him home, they had done all they could. The family prepared. I spent every morning with him and the first place I went after I finished work was to him.
Standing in the parking lot after work, speaking with a friend, I saw my dad drive into the lot. He said nothing as he pulled up next to me and stopped. I opened the car door and got in, I cried the entire ride home. For four days I was engulfed in my own personal armageddon that
commenced that day in the parking lot of my job.
Through the mournful haze of my sorrow I felt a gentle yet persistent pressure on my shoulder. I could literally feel my sorrow weighing down on my physical body. As the pressure became more real, I raised my burning, tear reddened eyes to find my grandmother standing above me. Her hand, was upon my shoulder, the woman that had been my Poppy’s wife for sixty three years. As she squeezed my shoulder, the pressure I presumed was that of sorrow was replaced with love and support. She simply said to me, “he loved you so much, it’s time to say goodbye.” She slowly moved her hand from my shoulder down my back and as before with a gentle nudge it transformed, this time to encouragement. Again she spoke, “go on now, he’s waiting for you to say goodbye, go on now, you
're a big boy now.” Three weeks later I left home to join the military.
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