Memories of Pop

After living with his oldest daughter for a couple years, Pop (my mother's dad) was moved to a nursing home on a hill, which had been a hospital. From the late 1960s and early 1970s, my family visited him at the nursing home in a small Pennsylvania town.

Severe cardiovascular disease had required him to have one leg, then the other leg amputated. He was proud, but he learned to transfer from his amputee wheelchair to his bed or elsewhere. Legally blind for many years, Pop's constant companion was a pocket-sized transistor radio. When he was alone, he listened to ball games, talk shows and news.

Pop was mentally sharp for most of his nursing home days. When we visited, he chatted about current events, sports and about the old days when he was a coal miner and a barber.

Pop never seemed to be depressed and I asked what kept him upbeat. My aunt said that besides listening to the radio, he liked to look out his second-floor window. On windy days, he watched how the wind played with women’s skirts as they walked up the hill.

Pop cried easily, especially when I came in. He never called me Kathy or Kathleen, but Kathryn as big tears welled in his eyes

During his years in a facility, Pop had a great deal of time to think about what happened in his life.

Although Pop had never been a churchgoer, before his first amputation my mother asked if he wanted to be baptized Christian and he told her yes. We hoped being baptized would give him some peace and hope for his future.

On his 86th birthday in January 1972, all his children and many grandchildren attended a birthday party at the nursing home. It was 10 below zero as we traveled to Western Pennsylvania just for the day.

Because it was so cold, many residents, including Pop, had not received their morning cares or been shaved. Pop came to the party for a while. But he gladly went back to get freshened up and rejoined us.

I am glad we all could enjoy that day with Pop because he died seven months later.

Topics: Activities