Sometimes words fail us–as beautiful and powerful as they are they still sometimes fall short of summing up our love for those we care most about. My grandfather, Popu as we call him in our family, passed away on Monday. He was a great many things: a veteran of the Korean War, a milkman (when such a profession existed), and later a truck driver. He wore blue coveralls for most of my life–I never saw him in much else and he drank his coffee in a cream white mug with a border of pale blue around the lip–a gift from one of my uncles. He whistled all the time and his laugh carried with it a lightness that could only infect those around him with happiness. And best of all whenever he talked about his & my gram’s first date his face lit up with the memory.
What I remember best was his constant tinkering. He was always fixing or fiddling with something up in the barn. My niece and I’d favorite thing to do when we went for walks was to visit Popu up in the barn. We took a walk up to the barn today to visit Popu and remember him.
I can’t tell you what Popu means to me–the words don’t come out right. And there’s a knot in my throat. But perhaps I can show you. I need to, because without him, I would not be the tinkerer I am today or the person I am and will be. My own studio space is very similar–it’s by a large window and there are jars & drawers filled with things for tinkering, for fixing, for making. My favorite part of Popu’s barn has always been his drawer of doorknobs. My mom has always loved his jar of paintbrushes. Popu gave me so much. He gave me something so special and so important–my name. I may not believe in much but I believe in the power of names. A name is like a sturdy bannister–it guides you along to who you will become. My mom named me Samantha because Popu nicknamed her Sam growing up and she always loved it. It was because of him that she chose it and there was a time that I hated my name (in Kindergarten, I wanted to be called Christina instead) but today I am so grateful and proud to be called Sam. It feels like a sturdy name and a beloved one. I will miss Popu everyday and I can only hope to make him proud. Thanks for letting me share what little I could find the words to express.