gilbert mckinley fuller

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Today is the 3rd anniversary of my grandfather's passing. He was my "Poppy." He was so wonderful, and I think of him alot. He was funny, he was handsome. He was kind, and very wise. When I think of him, I see the smile he often had on his face. And because he was always telling a joke or trying to put one over on you, he would try to suppress that smile, so that it wouldn't betray his fun, and it looked all crooked and mischievious. His eyes absolutely sparkled when he did this.

When we were little, he would stand in front of the tv with his hands on his hips while my brother and I were watching cartoons on Commander Tom, and in a mock-lecturing tone would demand: "Is this educational? What are you learning from this? Tell me one thing you've learned from this today!"

He loved salmon sandwiches for lunch, Nanny's tea biscuits, and cucumber slices in vinegar. He always turned the small kitchen radio on so he could listen to the news while he ate. And when the meal was done, he would say, "Well, if that's lunch - I've had it." If I stopped eating before him, he would invariably proclaim, "You might be full, but I'm "Fuller"!!!" (This joke never seemed to get old). While Nanny did the dishes, I would run the length of the living room to pounce on him in his lazyboy, and he would always playfully beg, "Oh, no, no, no, please don't jump on me, no!" It would make me laugh, because I knew he was really egging me on.

He took me along bowling a few times. We played cards, checkers and Tiddly-Winks together. He shared his Humbugs with me, and everyone knew that his favourite chocolates were Turtles.

He took me to Baskin-Robbins, and when I ordered vanilla, he was incredulous. "Why do you want vanilla? Don't you want to try something else?! They have 31 flavours!" I'm not sure if I told him or not, but I ordered vanilla because it was his favourite, and I wanted to be just like him.

He only got mad at me once. I was teasing my brother when he was sick, laying on the couch trying to rest. Poppy asked me not to, but I stubbornly persisted. He took me firmly by the arm, deposited me in his room with stern words, and shut the door, leaving me there alone. It upset me so much that I had angered him, and I cried. I don't think I ever gave him reason to be angry with me again.

He never passed judgement, or ever wagged his finger at me, telling me how I should be. He was nothing if not warm. And he was unfailingly affectionate.

He lived so long in this this town that everyone knew him, (there is a street named after him, in fact), and people would constantly stop him to say hello when we went on our walks to the post office. Because I was so young at the time, it seemed to me that he was like a celebrity. I felt proud when he introduced me as his grandaughter. When passing the cemetary on these walks, he would ask me the same question: "why do they put fences around the cemetary?" Sometimes I would pretend not to know, and other times I would blurt out the answer before he could: "Because people are dying to get in!"

The last thing I ever said to him (thankfully) was "I love you, Poppy." Even though his Alzheimer's was advanced and he'd seemed distant that afternoon, I wanted him to hear it. I saw something behind his eyes flicker in recognition, and his eyes filled with tears.

When I got the call that he'd passed just a few months later, I got on a plane the very next day with no hesitation, even though it meant postponing that evening's big plans: celebrating my 1st wedding anniversary with my husband.

I have a sweater that belonged to him. And a hat that he often wore. And when I'm playing a joke on someone, or trying to pull one over on them, I try hard to supress my smile so that it doesn't betray my fun... and I hope that others see my eyes sparkle, just like Poppy's did.

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