My daughter, Gwendolyn, is almost four years old, and, she works my smartphone better than I do. She knows how to swipe right on my mother-in-law’s phone, and navigate through her pictures and videos. Every day, my mother-in-law watches Gwen purposefully search through her phone for a picture of her Pop-Pop, Howard, wondering, “Where is Pop-Pop?”
Where Is Pop-Pop?
“Nana! Nana!” She would proclaim, “Look! Look! It’s Pop-Pop! See Nana! It’s Pop-Pop!”
My mother-in-law smiles fondly and replies “Yes it is Gwendolyn. Do you know where Pop-Pop is?”
“In heaven!” she states matter-of-fact. “But, where is he now?”
Of course, her sweet, innocent mind doesn’t understand why he was physically there one day and not the next.
Pop-Pop & His G-G
My father-in-law, Howard, passed away when Gwendolyn was only 6 months old. Howard had stage 4 prostate cancer, and, after a 5-year battle, it had spread to every bone in his body, and inevitably took his life.
He may have only experienced a short part of her life, but he soaked up every part of it, always wanting his little G-G around. As an infant, he would rock her on his chest and whisper her his favorite hymns in her ear so she would sleep. He would always say that he was in his glory when he was around her, and she made him so happy.
Towards the End
In the last few months of his life, Howard lived in a rehab facility after an attempted operation to remove a mass from his spine. Even though his strength left him, he still mustered up enough energy to hold and play with her in the hospital bed. G-G was the talk of the facility. She would be dressed up in bows looking her best for Pop-Pop.
On the last day of his life, Howard was surrounded by his family both near and far. Everyone took turns praying with him, speaking to him over the phone, and giving him his last physical embraces. Thankfully, I was able to have Gwendolyn there, and, though he didn’t have the strength to hold her, she sat next to him in bed to cuddle with her Pop-Pop one last time.
At his funeral service, Gwendolyn was given a single pink balloon to send to heaven in remembrance of Howard. Here is the video of Gwendolyn Saying Good Bye to Pop Pop.
It was a special a bond that only a grandfather and granddaughter could have and is one that I will treasure forever. Every time Gwendolyn asks where Pop-Pop is, and I see her reaction, it brings tears to my eyes. I feel disappointed that she will never get to experience all the love that he had for her as she grows up. It is important that we keep his memory alive, through the stories, images, and videos. The bond between Gwendolyn and her Pop-Pop is a constant reminder to me, that even after the passing of a loved one, the relationship doesn’t end. It is merely different.
Suggested Read: Living After Loss – The New Normal