Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hometown Memories: Remembering ‘Pop’

Behind the building I grew up in there was a very large alleyway running between all the homes on the block. Rain or shine, hot or cold, day in and day out, all the kids would gather there and play when school wasn’t in session. Many memories were created and many friendships were built in that alleyway; it was an integral part of my childhood.


And it’s in that alleyway that we interacted with an elderly man we affectionately called ‘Pop’ who would sit beside his back window and watch us play. He lived in the apartment right next to ours with his niece, and because he had limited physical mobility, he was forced to spend most of his time indoors when she was working. We, the kids, were almost certainly his only connection to the outside world during that time, and his only social contact when all the other grownups were working or otherwise occupied. Our presence minimized his loneliness and kept him from feeling isolated. As such, he grew very fond of us. And over time, we grew very fond of him. He was like an adopted grandfather to all of us.


Pop would always have a friendly greeting for all the kids. He’d wave through the window and smile at our childhood shenanigans. Sometimes he’d toss us some gum or a chocolate bar. Other times, he would call one of us over and hand us a dime to buy a treat, which was the highlight of the day. A dime when I was a child was a small fortune, more than enough to buy a bag of chips, a popsicle, a small soft drink, bubble gum, candy, or any other tooth-decaying sweet.

Everyone adored this elderly man. And everyone called him ‘Pop’. Young and old. Even my parents. He did have a real name, but I honestly don’t recall what it was. And it’s possible that I never did know. But regardless, he was - and always will be - ‘Pop’ to me. A sweet and thoughtful man that touched the hearts of everyone in that neighbourhood.


Pop passed away by the time I reached my teen years, and we were all saddened by this loss. It’s been almost four decades since he’s been gone, and yet, I still think about him from time to time. Some people come into your life and leave a footprint in your heart. Pop is such a person. His gentle spirit lives on forever.

Thinking of you, Pop. I hope that wherever you are, you are resting in eternal peace.

28 comments:

  1. How blessed you were to have such a lovely older man to be in your life.

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    1. It really was a blessing. I didn't have grandparents close by, so it was nice to have special elderly folks around.

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  2. That's a touching story, Martha. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. I love your blog. Both of them are quit nice, so thanks for writing. And a great big Happy Monday to you. I have off until Friday and by gosh, I'm washing every single blanket in this house whilst it's nice enough outside to dry them.

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    2. That is sweet! Thank you :) I love your blog, too; it's so full of life, and always so cheerful. I imagine that you are a generally upbeat person :)

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  3. This was very beautifully Martha and it was a beautiful tribute to him.

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  4. Pop sounds like a great guy. So often we get grumpy at noisy kids instead of enjoying them, especially as we age. Pop will be my new role model!

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    1. Yes, we certainly do get grumpier with age. There were those types around when I grew up. Thank goodness for people like 'Pop'.

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  5. Wonderful story ! Thanks for sharing ! Have a good day !

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  6. Thanks for sharing this wonderful snippet from your past!

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    1. I had an amazing childhood, and Pop was a part of that.

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  7. better than the old man on the porch that would chase you with the watering hose.

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  8. So sweet, Martha!

    I believe everyone does or should have a Pop in their lives. My Pop was an ol' lady that lived across the street, her name was Ina (pronounced eye-na)! She had fruit trees growing in her backyard and loved to share. She had a speech impediment and I thought nothing of it. She once in awhile hailed me over because it was difficult to speak, Ronnie in her weak voice "Do you want some peaches?" Did my eyes light up? Oh yes! She will always be in my memory like you Pop!

    Ron

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    1. You are so right, Ron. I think everyone should have a 'Pop' in their lives. It really leaves an impact on you when you're a child, and teaches you to respect and have compassion for the elderly. Ina sounds like such a kind and lovely woman. It's no wonder you still remember her.

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  9. You worded this beautifully: "Some people come into your life and leave a footprint in your heart." What an angel Pop was (and maybe still is).

    Happy Friday and weekend, Martha.

    xoRobyn

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    1. I imagine wherever he is, he's leaving footprints. He was such a nice man.

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  10. Just beautiful Martha!!!
    Did you grow up in Verdun by any chance? ( just because of the alleys )
    XOXO

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    1. I grew up in the Park Ex area (Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension borough); you probably know which part of Montreal I'm referring to since you live in Montreal. It was a working class neighbourhood (still is), and when I was growing up, it was a very close-knit community. Lots of wonderful memories!

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    2. Well it was the same type of neighbourhood as Verdun - I grew up in Cote des Neiges - but moved to Verdun when I was 14 - my fondest memories are from my time in Verdun - without a doubt........
      Are you Greek?
      Talk about stereotyping LOL - but Park Ex used to be a Greek community - ( it's completely Indian now by the way )
      XOXO

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    3. Hahaha...stereotyping, but so true! Yes, I am Greek, so you are right on the ball! When I was growing up there, it was a majority of Greeks. Before that, from my understanding, it was mostly Jewish families. By the time I reached 20, the Greeks started to move away to St. Laurent, New Bordeaux, Laval and the West Island. There are very few Greeks left there, mostly elderly folks, and you're right, it's mostly Indian, but also a mixture of other folks. My most cherished memories are from that area. We all knew - and took care of - each other, and I have many beautiful memories from there.

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  11. This is the sweetest story I have heard in a very long time, Martha. What a lovely man Pop was and how lucky you kids were to have him cross your path.

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    1. Pop really was great. And we were so fortunate to have known him. It was a true blessing.

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  12. What a touching story. Beautiful photos to go with this tribute as well.

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    1. Such a special person is always remembered. Thanks for the kind words about the images.

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