...despite the turmoil. On the whole, I think Poppy's doing OK.
Of all of us, I think the most like him. I can feel him, the way the Professor feels BigBear. It was funny to me, though proof that I can feel him, that today at about 2 in the afternoon I had the sudden overwhelming urge to call him. Y'all gotta know something about me... I'm not a big phone person. If I get on the phone with someone I adore I can stay on for a minute. And there are those folk--mainly BigBear and the Professor, that I can call frequently. Bigbear is the only one I can stay on the phone with easily for an hour, the Professor next. Then there are folk who call me regularly, mostly forgiving of the fact that I rarely actually call them. Those would be ShoeFly and CNC. There are those I call when the Voices scream and that's mostly the FatLady, though it used to be BeautifulHair. But 98% of the time I don't really like the phone. And I don't often get urges to call folk. It's why I LOVE Crackbook, and texting. I can stay connected without having to be on the phone.
As much as I love him, I don't often talk on the phone to Poppy, and when I do it's usually cuz I'm the one who's stressed. So it was kinda funny to me that I needed to call him, right then. And I did. It turned out he was having "a moment". Today was a gray day, which didn't help, and he was feeling a little tired from the OT they're putting him through. And he was feeling a little discouraged about feeling tired.
Poppy, like me, expects most things to come easily, because they usually do. And it can be a little bit of an adjustment when we actually have to work for something until we get used to the idea that it will be work. Learning how to work to learn something new was my big epiphany at Pratt, but I still understand that initial feeling of "Oh shit. Can I really do this?"
But I think I was able to help Poppy not be so hard on himself; to realize this was the beginning of something rather than the end of something else. At least I hope I was... I told him it was my payback for all those nights he sat up with me as a kid, when I had severe asthma and couldn't breathe...
I have always loved my Poppy. He was always my hero, my rock. He was never the biggest or baddest Poppy out there, but he was certainly the smartest damn Poppy, and funny, and steady, and always there. Always. And I never ever liked when he was mad or disappointed in me. We rarely had major fights or periods when we warred... whatever teenage animosity I had was generally directed at BigBear but even so that wasn't much. But I never ever liked to disappoint Poppy. The thought of him merely "wiggling his eyebrows" at me in disgust kept me from doing more stuff than I did. And whatever I did do that would disappoint him, he'll never know about. Neither will BigBear, since it was always a guarantee that she would tell him.
There was a time during my teenage years when I wanted Pro Keds and colored Lee Jeans cuz everybody else had them, and I was a little annoyed that Poppy--committed to an artist's life--didn't readily have funds to buy those things for me. But on the other hand, it made me resilient, and I found ways to get whatever it was I wanted--on my own steam.
The only time I really remember demanding anything from him was my senior year in High School when I wanted to go on my senior trip, and I wanted a high school ring. A gold ring cuz I didn't see the point of anything less than 14K gold. And I know he must have hustled...but I got them. I don't know that I ever told him how much I appreciated that he did that for me, but I did. And to this day I still regret that I lost that Goddamned 14K gold high school ring in a cab less than 5 years later.
It wasn't till I hit my late 30's and committed to some sort of an artist's life and completely committed to parenthood that I truly understood the depth of what he gave us, the Professor and I. He gave us self-confidence and resilience and the ability to roll with the punches. And he did this without making us hard. Liquid steel core in a velvet sheath. He always says his regret is that maybe he made us a little too strong... that he had assumed the men in the world would be stronger than they are and would appreciate strong women. But I know that had he taught us any different, had I been any softer there's no way in hell I would have survived the shit I have.
Had we been any less resilient, we would have fallen apart a long time ago.
Not to say that BigBear didn't have anything to do with it... because she did. But Poppy's ability to sit back and let her grow into the BigBear she ultimately became (cuz really, she didn't start out that way at all) let us see what being a strong man really means. Although I always found it highly amusing that he was pretty demanding of her as a husband... both the Professor and I joke we never would have married him cuz he expects her to to do a lot of stuff. But at the same time, I've realized that a lot of what my mother tolerates from my father, she does so out of love.
I realized this one day at the hospital when he snapped at her, and she merely smiled, even though I bristled. "Poppy's back" is all she said...
Poppy always says he married her because he thought she'd support him as an artist... he thought she had money. She kind of came from a "brand-name" family. He told her he would never love her as much as he loved his art. She said that was OK, she loved him enough for the both of them. By the time he figured out she didn't have any money, it was too late. Over time she proved she supported his art in other ways. They both say they have stayed together 40 something years because he was too lazy to leave and she was too stubborn to quit.
But the other day Poppy told me that the Friday he had the bypass, as he was coming out from under the anesthesia he had a dream that he was in a field where workers were sifting through grains of sand. Watching them he realized they were looking for the grains of his life, and as they found them, they put them together in chronological order. He could see his life being reconstructed.... his childhood, the house he grew up in, his schooling... and he began to get excited when he realized they would soon get to the part where BigBear came into the picture. He said he felt like a puppy, bouncy and excited and wagging it's tail. And I was so grateful for that story... to know what real, true love is like, some 40-something years later. I realized that despite whatever they say, my parents love each other deeply.
I felt a little sad knowing I may never have that for myself... but I am still blessed to be be a part of that love. To be the product of it. To know what it is and that it does exist.
This experience, as hard as it's been, has given me a lot of things.... a lot of insights to things I'm still processing, still thinking over.
I have also come to appreciate Poppy's faith in God in a new way. The night I got back from the CAT scan horror; the night I cried so hard for him, I asked God why He would make someone so faithful to Him suffer so much. That my Poppy has more faith in God in his little finger, than I have in my entire body. It didn't seem fair. People say, as if to reassure you, that God won't give you more than He thinks you can handle. On the one hand it makes sense, I guess... but on the other hand... it still doesn't seem right. Because you "cave" to the darkside earlier you get to live easier? Poppy said he dreamed that he was at his own trial, and that Satan was testing him... and like Job he said "I don't care what you do, I will not turn away from the True God; I won't stop believing so you are merely torturing a lesser being at no benefit to you".
And you know that made me stop and think. Cuz I've endured shit... but no shit like that, and I wonder if I would go the distance. But on the other hand, with an example like that, how could I not?
Which is why I have to share with whoever reads this.... cuz it damn sure gives you something to ponder...
I have learned a new meaning to the words "grace under fire" because both of my parents have gone through this fire with dignity and grace. I know there will still be "moments". But I think we're all going to be alright, at least for a little while...
...cuz life keeps rolling along...