Anthony went by many names.
To some, he was Tony. To other, he was “The Godfather” (thanks to his tough-guy attitude and 100 percent Italian blood.) To my mom, he was dad. To me, he was always Poppop.
A man raised in Trenton, New Jersey, moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ultimately settling into a small Southern New Jersey town, my Poppop had one love in his life (besides his family, of course): talking.
Talking, unfortunately or, ironically, is one of the first things dementia robbed of him.
Years of talking and stories have allowed me to gather some important takeaways about life. Now that my grandfather has passed, I want to grant him the opportunity to have his message heard.
I want to share five of his philosophies about life with the hope that though his life has ended, someone will read these words and begin to truly live.
Life Lesson #1: Never miss an opportunity to make memories with those who you love.
A simple ride to the supermarket affords you the chance to make a memory. We used to joke that my Poppop was like a dog, always excited to “go for a ride.” The destination was not the important part. Time spent with each other was.
Life Lesson #2: Never turn down a home cooked meal.
My Poppop was 100 percent Italian and the man liked to eat. He would tell stories about nights when he would have multiple dinners because if someone offers a home cooked meal, you only have on one choice: sit down and enjoy. Also, (see Life Lesson #1) breaking bread with those you love can be matched by no other dining experience in the world.
Life Lesson #3: Do not take yourself too seriously.
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our work or school and lose sight of the bigger picture. My Poppop was the first to make fun of himself. The dementia may have taken a lot, but it never took his humor. Laughing is, after all, the best medicine.
Life Lesson #4: Never leave or end a conversation mad at someone.
Always, no matter what, apologize and tell the person you love them. What if this is the last time you see them? Life can be cruel and unpredictable.
Life Lesson #5: Never say goodbye but always say “see you later.”
My Poppop did not believe in goodbyes. He saw them as bad luck. “See you later” is open-ended while goodbye seems final. Today, no goodbyes were said.
With Frank Sinatra singing in the background (his favorite), we gathered around to say “see you later” to a man who was stolen away at 71 years young. Dementia, the horrible disease that robs so many, never stole my Poppop’s spirit.
In the words of my grandfather’s favorite song, My Way by Frank Sinatra:
“And now, the end is near / And so I face the final curtain / My friend, I’ll say it clear / I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain / I’ve lived a life that’s full / I traveled each and every highway / And more, much more than this, I did it my way”
Author: Kimberly Poolos.
Image: Courtesy of the Author
Editors: Sara Kärpänen; Nicole Cameron