“Nah, nah, nah, what the hell are you doing?” he hollered at me. A little kid. I wasn’t doing something the right way. Pop Pop ran up beside me and told me for the third time how to work the foot controls and the hand levers to keep the race car he made on the lawn and not run into the flower beds. It was called the MudSlugger. He hollered any time I did something “dumb” but it wasn’t a painful admonishment. It was just how he talked. My mother’s father, Pop Pop, meant a lot to me as a kid. I loved wandering into his garage and smelling the smells of old gasoline, oil, and everything in between, his shelves neat, his jars and drawers neatly labeled, my aunt Ruthie’s artwork hanging here and there. To this day I wonder where their Plymouth Fury, the sea-green one with the push-button transmission has gone. I wonder where the pigeon he kept in a house outside his garage has gone, the one he healed and helped survive its injury. So many tiger-lily, mimosa, lightning bug, captain crunch, super salty roast, leave the dogs alone memories are with me now and I wonder where they’ve gone. I miss his white Ford pickup, the one with green highlights, clamshell hood, the one he covered in dark orange carpet and hand made a tool shed in back, where we sat on the way to the grocery store.
Last night Pop Pop came to me. The dream was me in the back of a something, probably a truck, leaning over a tailgate. The truck was connected to that trailer, the one made of old grey wood that will flip up when the weight is unequally distributed. The truck was pulling the little trailer, and my son and Pop Pop was sitting on the trailer. My son was happy. Pop Pop was as I remember him. He was kneeling, wearing a dark blue down vest over a plaid shirt, his wire-framed glasses on his wrinkled smiling face, and both he and my son were happy. I took pictures of them with my camera phone from the back of the pickup. I leaned over and showed them the picture. My son saw that my phone had a broken lens, and he somehow, I don’t know how, made the cracks disappear and the phone’s pictures felt magical. My son and Pop Pop were sitting together on a trailer being hauled by Mike. Pop Pop was with me, and I know few will understand what that feels like and that’s okay, but he was. I miss him. I want to remember him, his fastidiousness, his devotion to creativity but his desire to keep it all in its place. I miss those mimosa blossoms, visiting my aunts, carrots that were terribly salty and yet I loved them.
Pop Pop came to me last night, and I cry because I feel so blessed to see him again. I cry because I hope his creativity and fastidiousness won’t be lost on future generations. We should all be so lucky to have a Pop Pop who made things, who learned, who worked part time right up until the end. He taught me so much. Meanwhile, I’m looking for a giant clock they kept in their bedroom that you could hear anywhere in the house, ticking, a pink double-alarm ticking, that comforted me in ways I am still looking for.