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THE BEST ADVENTURES OF MY CHILDHOOD
I OWE TO MY GRANDPA MICHAEL AND MY GRANDMA MILLIE
Few people know I was named after my grandfather on my mom’s side, Michael. While he and my grandma Amelia (Millie) have since passed, both have been on my mind a lot lately. My grandfather was one of nine kids, and I recently saw his youngest sister at a family wedding. She looks just like he did, so speaking with her reminded me of how much I missed talking with him. He was a truly kind man. People used to always remark that he was a gentleman, but also a gentle man, too. Thinking back on my own childhood, I remember this to be true. He would always go in the backyard with us kids and play croquet on a set I assumed he’d had since he was a kid. He was never the type to just watch us have fun; he wanted to be in on the action, too. In fact, one summer, he brought out these giant plastic barrels he’d found and gave one to me and one to my sister. He gave us painting supplies and told us to decorate it however we wanted. Then, once the paint was dry, he took turns pushing us around the yard in them. When he wasn’t busy creating amazing memories with us in the backyard, he would sit in his chair and tell us stories about his stint in the Navy during WWII. During these storytelling sessions, he’d often have gin in one hand and a cigar in the other. He could even blow those cool smoke rings! When I’m feeling especially nostalgic for my memories with him, I’ll make myself a drink (gin is also my drink of choice) and light up a stogie, just as he would have wanted me to.
entire basement was filled wall- to-wall with nonperishable foods. At the time of their passing, I think my sister and I counted at least 30 cans of Spam down there! My grandparents taught me a lot of lessons as a child, more than I could possibly fit in one article, but the
certainly wasn’t far behind. While she made sure our clothes were clean and our stomachs were full, she was never one to sit on the sidelines during playtime. In fact, I remember taking multiple trips to Disney World in Orlando, and Grandma Popowich would go on every single ride with us. This was before the years of fast passes, so she would stand in line with me for a couple of hours and go on the ride. Then she’d get back in line with my sister and wait even longer. While her unending patience in these moments was astounding, when I think back on those amusement park experiences, my favorite part was when she would “hush” us whenever we pointed out the warning signs telling people with bad backs to avoid all the rides. She’d had back problems for years, but she never let it stop her from having fun with her grandkids. Whenever I ponder their fun-loving spirits, I can’t help but wonder if their own childhoods spent in the thick of the Great Depression played a role in who they became as adults. They knew how to have fun without spending a cent, and, when they did spend money on family trips, they made the most out of the experience. Plus, their
circumstances of their passing might be the one that sticks out more than the rest. After my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer, he passed away within a month, and, while my grandmother’s mind had started to go at this point, she passed away within six months of his funeral. After being married for almost 50 years, they had come to truly live for each other. It seemed that once she fully realized he was gone, she made the decision to go be with him. It was emblematic of how much they loved each other in life and made us all happy to know they were only apart for a short period of time. Here’s to the two most patient, gentle, adventurous, and loving people in my life. Thanks for all the memories!
My grandpa always facilitated a world of adventure for us, but my grandmother
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