120: Pop-Pop



I had something else in mind for tonight, but as I’m getting ready for bed, fixing my hair…my grandfather came to mind.

Weird, I know, but I’m sure if I followed the rabbit trail, I could trace back the thought that connected my grandfather to my hair, but I honestly don’t have the energy to rifle through my own mixed up brain right now.

So anyway, my Pop Pop. That’s what we called him. Eugene Alonzo Allen. Apparently a lot of people in his family were named Eugene, so they all went by their middle names.

“Lonnie Allen” was what his friends called him.

Part of the reason my mom wanted to name me Jillana, was so she could call me “Lani,” like her dad.

That nickname never caught on like she hoped, because apparently, he wasn’t a big fan of her name choice for me—and she got really upset. “Fine, we won’t call her Lani then, like you!”

I must of heard this story after he’d passed, because knowing my smart-alec self, I would have definitely said something.

“Pop-Pop, you don’t like my naaame?!” (I am my mother’s child.)

Obviously, he grew to love it….cause I mean…c’mon. 😉

I regret that I didn’t know a whole lot about my Pop-Pop. I wish I wasn’t still a dumb kid when he passed away, maybe I would have gotten to know him better. Maybe then I would have a lot of profound stories to share of him, filled with wise words he gave me—but I probably didn’t recognize the profound moments when they happened.

I feel like it wasn’t until his funeral that I realized how much he really meant to me.

I remember crying on my older cousin’s shoulder, and being mad when my Aunt Neicy was trying to get all of the grandkids to stand in front of the casket to sing “Jesus Loves Me,” or something like that, to all of the guests.

My face was ridiculous and puffy, and I had a lap full of tissues, and I was fifteen, and I had an attitude. (Sorry, Aunt Neicy)

I’m still not sure on all of the details that claimed his life. I know that he was pretty much sick for my entire life. I probably just thought it was cause he was old, but when we went over to his house, he would always just sit in his chair while we played. I remember feeling like I had to be gentle with him whenever we hugged him goodbye.

I know he had arthritis, because my mom would tell me that’s why he couldn’t play piano anymore, but he passed his long, “piano-playing fingers” down to Jannelle, so she could play.

I used to think all I got were his small, pointy ears that didn’t really have a distinct earlobe.

But, as I stand in front of the bathroom mirror, I’m reminded of all the things he did give me.

He gave me his time. When I was in late elementary school and middle school, when Aol Instant Messenger, or “AIM” as all the cool kids called it, was all the rage, he would talk to me whenever we were both online.

I’d be excited when I would see that “Lon88keys” was online. I can’t help but giggle a little bit at my insensitivity when he wouldn’t reply as fast as I’d like for him to, because of his arthritis.

“C’mooooon, Pop-Pop”

Sometimes I would write him something, get up and get a snack, and come back. (Shame) But at that age, and the fact that I have so many first cousins who were always around when we were around him, I really appreciated that one-on-one time with him.

He gave me a love for music. This man was a composer. I don’t remember anyone being as excited as he was, when I told him I was going to play the clarinet in the 6th grade. It was probably because he knew he wouldn’t be around every day to hear me practice, but it felt good nonetheless.

A major thing that I regret, still to this day, was never playing and recording a piece that he’d arranged for my sister and I to play. He wrote out each of our parts; one for clarinet, and one for flute, and we were probably too busy watching SClub 7 or Lizzie McGuire, or whatever dumb show was on, to ever play it. Even if we knew it wasn’t true, we probably thought that we had plenty of time.

But we took time for granted, and then forgot about it. I just wish he could have heard us play it at least once.

These were both great ways to show your grandkids that you loved them, but since this last one is one of my primary love languages, it obviously sticks out most in my mind.

Just like any good grandparent, he gave us PRESENTS.

When I was really small, he payed for me to take ballet lessons. I didn’t keep up with it, but for a three-year-old whose favorite hairstyle was a bun, and who was obsessed with Minnie-Mouse and all things girly—it was totally worth it. And I still have a pretty decent turnout.

My grandmother also had good gift-giving game back then, her top moments were my sick pink trike, (that’s tricycle, if you’re a little slow) and my light up Ninja Turtle sneakers. (Donatello 4-eva)

But Pop-Pop spoke to my heart, when we would get several VHS tapes from him, filled with anything from “Snoopy Come Home” to “Big Bird goes to Japan” that he would record off of HBO for us when we moved to South Carolina and didn’t have cable. I cannot express to you the joy that it brought to me and my big sister…or all of the arguments I’m sure it prevented.

I probably didn’t tell him enough that I loved him, or that I appreciated him. I only remember physically telling him when my mom would force me to call him and awkwardly say thank you when he would send me a birthday card.

But I hope that he knew. I’m glad that I did get a chance to say it before his last day.

I remember my mom passing me the phone and telling me to say goodbye, because he wasn’t going to make it through the night.

With tears streaming down my face, that I didn’t even fully understand, I was able to get out those three words that I need to say more often to the people that are still here with me.

Even though he was too far gone to be able to speak, I know without a doubt that he would have said “I love you” back if he could have.

But more importantly, I know that he would have meant it.



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