Those that know well know that there isn’t a single person in this world that holds such a special place in my heart as my grandparents.  My Grandpop, in particular, I was wicked close with.  When he passed away in 2012, it tore me apart.

I’m still mourning him.  That loss has left a hole in my heart that I don’t think can ever be repaired.  In spite of it, though, I try to think of all the happy memories I have with him, rather than the pain of losing him.

Every time I enter a used bookstore, I think of Grandpop.  We had many outings to the Book Barn and the Owl Pen under our belts together, each of us returning with huge paper bags full of books.  How many hours did we clock sitting in the same room, five feet from each other, our noses buried in our own respective stories?  When I read a good crime novel, a brilliant horror story, or a book that’s so old that I feel like the yellowed pages are going to crumble between my fingertips, I remember Grandpop because he was always sending them my way.

A good pastry from a local baker also reminds me of Grandpop, because after an afternoon of target shooting we’d always stop for a treat.

Shooting, though, has become a bit of a meditation for me in and of itself.  When I’m honing in on a target, everything else falls away.  It’s a calm, inner peace, that I don’t think I’d be able to find at all had I not spent consecutive summers at the Pine Tree Rifle Club with Grandpop.  It’s a different kind of stillness than when I sit and actually meditate – those that shoot, I’m sure, know what I’m talking about.

Grandpop also was the person that introduced me to anime and Hayao Miyazaki’s films.  I remember the first one I ever saw – Kiki’s Delivery Service.  But the one that makes me cry is My Neighbor Totoro.  It was one of his favorites, and every time I watch it I can’t help but think of him.  When I was in elementary and middle school, Cartoon Network used to have a week during the summer where they would show a different Miyazaki film every night.  Grandpop would give me a call and let me know the times, and we’d both sit and watch them together in our own respective homes (Mom was always worried about me walking home alone after dark at the time, hence why we didn’t watch them together-together).

Happy 86th, Grandpop.  I’ll always love you.  Semper Fi.

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