Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ode to Thomas

Today was Pop's funeral in Annapolis, Maryland. It was a very sad occasion, but we all had the chance to spend a few days remembering Pop and all the stories surrounding him. He was very devoted and loving to his family, and was a very hard worker.

Pop had been a waterman all his life, starting out as an oysterman as a kid. He was born on Gibson Island in Marlyland and stayed there until moving to Annapolis with my Nana. Pop was a very quiet man, and was perfectly evened out by my outgoing, bubbly grandmother. When he asked my Nana to marry him, she went out and bought a wedding dress. He happened to be at her mother's house when she brought it home, and asked what it was. She said "My wedding dress." He replied "What'd you buy that for?"

Nana got mad and returned the white dress. She then went out and bought a red one, and that's what she was married in. As far as I know he made no further comments on her dress.

Over the years many family members lived with my grandparents. Nana's sister, Marie, who had married Pop's brother Sherman, once showed up unannounced on Nana and Pop's doorstep. They had three children, two dogs, no jobs, and twenty cents to their names. The house they lived in was small - two bedrooms and one bath - yet they took their family in and fed them, clothed them, and kept them until they got back on their feet. This was a pattern that was repeated many times over the years with cousins, nephews, etc. It's not that they made a lot of money. Nana worked in the school cafeteria, and Pop worked in the boatyards refinishing and repairing yachts. They took in their family because they were happy to share what little they had.

Pop was a very quiet man, and was perfectly evened out by my outgoing, bubbly grandmother. Because he was so handy, Nana would constantly volunteer him to fix things for people. It was always "Thomas will fix it!" and then without a word he would gather his necessary tools and fix it. My dad told a story of their first house, and how it was pink. Nana hated that pink house, and would talk about it all the time. My father traveled a lot and just didn't have the time to paint it. So one Saturday, because Nana insisted, Pop showed up at my parent's house with brushes, a ladder, and gallons of white paint.

He started painting the house, and got to a part up at the top of the front of the house where he had to go to the top of the ladder. He had just opened a new gallon of paint and hiked it up to the top. Just a few minutes later he somehow dropped the paint can, and the whole gallon of paint splattered everywhere. All over the front porch, windows, grass, sidewalk. Then my dad said that Pop began to swear in a way that he had never heard before. You see, Pop was a perfectionist and painted all the time. To spill paint and make a mess just sent him over the edge. I never ever heard Pop drop the F bomb, but apparently he used it liberally that day.

Pop was totally and completely taken care of by Nana. He would sit down to dinner and not say a word or make a motion to take any food. Nana would say "Thomas, do you want some green beans?" And he'd say "Well, I suppose I'll have two or three." Which would be her clue to give him a nice serving. Then she'd say "How about potatoes?" and he'd reply "I'll just have a taste." Again, she'd scoop him out much more than a taste. And so it sent that way for years.

One of the most memorable stories that I heard Pop tell was a story of Pop and his brother Sherman. As kids they lived on a farm that did not have running water or a toilet. So there was an outhouse. One day Pop was in the outhouse and Sherman piled up wood in front of the door and locked him in. Pop had to crawl down the hole and out the exhaust port. Yeah, really super gross.

But Pop had the last laugh. When Sherman Sherman came out, in Pop's words, "I shit on his head." I don't know if that's as funny to people who don't know him, but if you knew him just hearing him say this was hilarious.

Anyhow, the funeral was as nice as a funeral could be. After the service we had a luncheon at the Severn Inn. This is the view off of the back deck of the Inn, looking across the Chesapeake Bay for a view of the Naval Academy.

I'll miss Pop. And because of Pop I will always love the ocean. It's one of the things I really miss by living in Cleveland. Craig said "We live on Lake Erie! "We can go to the beach if you want to."

It's not the same. The smell, the feel, it's just not the same. Now I have an excuse to visit Annapolis, since Pop, Nana, and Uncle Bill are buried there. Nana had always wanted to be cremated and buried with Pop. When she talked about it, she'd say "I want my urn to be put between his legs, because that's where the best part of him is." So that's just where she is.

I hope they're having fun.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss but thank you for sharing those wonderful stories! I roared when I read Nana's comment about the "best part" of PopPop.

Your grandparents were marvelous people, weren't they. What a legacy they left.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Pop sounds like a great guy and Nana like a riot. I'm sure they had a great time together and will again. You did a great job on the post and the ode to your Pop Pop.

And you're right about the ocean,no matter how big a lake is, it's just not the same, feel, smell etc...

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