Yesterday was my grandfather's funeral and memorial service. Here is what I said about my Pop Pop at the memorial service (or rather, what I sobbed):
Pop Pop loved me in a way I can only describe as extravagant. The dictionary defines extravagant as "excessive, beyond what is reasonable, spending too much." Pop Pop not only gave extravagant gifts, but he loved extravagantly, in a no-holds-barred, joyful and fierce sort of way. And he loved me that way, as he often reminded me, from the moment he laid eyes on me. He didn't just tell me he loved me, although he did a lot of that, as well! He couldn't get enough of me and he let me see and know that. He allowed his love for me to shine out of his eyes. Often when he told me he loved me, his eyes would fill with tears that he didn't even try to hide. He loved me with every bit of himself and he made sure I knew it.
Years ago I was watching Oprah and an author came on the show. I don't remember everything she said but one thing stood out. She said, "it changes a child if, whenever she walks in a room, someone's eyes light up when they see her." I remember thinking when I heard that, "That's Pop Pop." He adored me and I was always sure about that. I think when a child grows up held in a love like that, she is altered.
Being held securely in Pop Pop's love is what made me sure that love can be unconditional. It taught my heart to love fiercely, totally, and extravagantly. It taught me that you can never love another person too much.
That Pop Pop loves me is something I'm more sure about than almost anything in the world. The last time I visited with him the last thing he said to me as I was about to leave was something he's said a hundred times at least. He said it with the same look on his face that he always has when he says it ... a look of absolute adoration filling his whole face.
"You know I love you ..." he said, his eyes damp.
And then I said what I have said back to him a hundred times.
"Yes, Pop Pop, I know that more than I know almost anything else. I'm more sure of that than just about anything in my whole life."
And though his spirit is no longer in the body whose lap I sat on, whose hand I held, whose eyes I saw love in for my entire life, I am just as sure of his love now as I ever was.