A Tribute to Pop

Last Monday, August 15, the world lost a most magnificent man, William Lupinacci, Sr., a.k.a. my Pop.  As a United States Marine veteran who served in World War II and a lifelong member of the rescue squad, my pop loved to serve his country and his community.  He was an amazing father, husband, and grandfather and a selfless giver and wonderful role model to all.  I’m fortunate to have had him as my friend and grandfather, and I hope to continue to spread love in his honor.  As I sit here in my “summer office” on this beautiful day, the sun is shining, the warm breeze is rustling the leaves on the trees, and I can’t help but feel my Pop and his love all around me.

I’d like to share a slightly modified version of the eulogy I read at the wake on Thursday.  If you know my Pop’s sense of humor, you may understand why I had to tweak it a bit for the sake of appropriateness.  Although words can’t really describe how awesome my Pop was and how much I love him, I tried my best.

In the wake of my Pop’s passing, my sister and I have tried to imagine life without him, and it’s nearly impossible.  How do you imagine life without someone you’ve been so close to since the day you were born?  We can’t imagine walking up my parents’ driveway without seeing Pop working on his birdhouses or baking in the sun.  We can’t imagine not hearing my Mema and Pop singing through the wall at my parents’ house.  We can’t imagine waking up on Thanksgiving morning without smelling Pop’s cooking and sitting at the counter as he drinks champagne while stuffing the turkey.  We can’t imagine knocking on his door without hearing, “Come in if you’re good lookin’!”  We simply can’t imagine creating new family memories without him, and that makes us sad.
But after digging through old boxes of photos over the last few days, not only have I been flooded with some of the fondest memories with my Pop, dating back to when I was a toddler, but I was also reminded of how full his life was, how fun his life was, and how a lot of that fun was because of his brilliant sense of humor.  After hearing a number of stories from my Mema and Pop over the years, it’s clear that Pop was always the life of the party, the center of attention.  He knew life was to be lived and he did just that.  He turned any dull, ordinary gathering into a lively event.  He turned soda cans into shoes and would tap around the house.  He turned water hoses into sprinklers.  He often turned frowns into smiles.  He loved to spread his joy to everyone he knew.  His jokes were hilarious and, often times, a little shocking, and the pictures hanging in his garage clearly showcase this.  But it was all for a good belly laugh, and I’m sure many of us have shared a good laugh with Pop at some point.  His sense of humor never failed, and he continued with his jokes up until the very end.      
Not only was Pop funny, but he was so genuinely kindhearted, accepting, and loving of all people, which can be rare for a man his age.  Words cannot adequately express just how good of a man my Pop was.  They also can’t express how grateful I am for his unwavering love and support over the years.  He helped teach me to stand up for what I believe in and follow my heart and intuition.  He was always one of my greatest fans and encouragers in life no matter what decisions I made.  He was, both literally and figuratively, at the sidelines cheering me on at every event that ever meant something to me.  He did this from childhood all the way up to my wedding only 6 months ago.  Not only did he cheer on Jabari and me that night, but he also cheered on all of my beautiful bridesmaids as they made their way down the aisle.  He made people feel good and put a smile on everyone’s face.  
He always let me know he had my back no matter what.  His unconditional acceptance and love accompanied by his amazing sense of humor helped us cultivate a real friendship as I got older.  I’m grateful to say my Pop was truly my friend.  I really mean that.  He wasn’t much of a phone talker, but I knew I could call him on his cell any time.  I could talk to my Pop about anything without feeling judged.  I could tell him secrets I knew he would always keep.  He just cared and wanted to listen, and if I sought his advice he would offer his feedback, sometimes after conferring with my dad first.  He was so good.  So genuine.  I only hope I was as good of a friend to him as he was to me. 
My bond with Pop is eternal, and I still feel his love right now.  It has occurred to me that I don’t really have to imagine life without Pop afterall because his memory, his goodness, and his soul will live on.  He’s probably sitting among us now, encouraging us all to laugh or throw a party in his honor.  He’ll be with us when we think of him or when we call on him.  When I attempt to make my first Thanksgiving turkey, I’m sure Pop will be right alongside me, probably cracking jokes.  He will live on.
The marines say Semper Fi which means always faithful.  And my Pop was always faithful.  He was also always a perfect grandfather, a great friend, and he will always be one of the brightest lights of my life.  
I love you, Pop.
I would also like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support after Pop’s passing.  You helped us during a difficult time, and you are truly appreciated.  We love you.
The days in my “summer office” are numbered, as I’m heading back to school tomorrow to begin setting up my classroom.  While I’ll miss blogging outside in this perfect weather, I’m really looking forward to the new school year, being back with my colleagues, and meeting my new students!

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