My True Inspiration: Poppy

Karley Barkley, Guest Writer

Where do I even start with this person? This person has changed my life and how I see it in so many different ways. He taught me so many things and skills that I never knew about. This amazing and wonderful person is my grandfather, my true inspiration. I don’t even call him grandpa. I actually call him Poppy and I don’t remember where I got that name or how I could even say it when I was little, but that has always been his name to me. Now, let me take you on a journey of memories. 

I grew up around him and my grandmother. I actually call her Amma instead of grandma. I didn’t really grow up around my other grandparents like I did with them. Every time my parents went to work I would be at their house and every time I got sick at school or needed something, it was always them first. Even though my one grandpa lives in town and not that far from us, it was always Amma and Poppy’s house. I loved going over there and spending time with them. It made my day so much better. I did fight a lot with Amma when I was younger, but never with Poppy. 

I remember when it came around summer time we would go across the street to this big open field that they owned (people call it the pasture) and we would go over and go by this one tree and pretty much set up a campsite. This was to teach me survival skills. We would pretend we were in the show “Naked and Afraid,” but instead we called it “Clothed and Afraid.” The next thing we would do after finding that one tree is to gather supplies like sticks, fire wood, and this white and black bark that would easily peel off the tree. Poppy always said that this bark was the best bark to start a fire with. After that we would use the tarp we brought and set up our own little shelter. We would stay out there for what felt like hours,  but eventually we would get hungry, which meant we would have to clean everything up and go back home. When we got back home I would ask for blueberry waffles because they were my favorite thing to eat when I went over there. Poppy would ask,  “How many do you want?” and I would say “Two to start off with.”  I never let anybody else make the waffles but him. He made them a certain way that nobody else could recreate. They would come out of the toaster and he would put butter on them and then put them straight into the microwave because he knew I never liked my food really toasted. They would come out perfect every time. They would be soggy and warm and the maple syrup would be warm too. I could always eat about six of them when I went over there and I think in some way he would make fun of me for eating so many at a time. Amma always wanted me to eat healthy,  but I only wanted my blueberry waffles and nothing else, and my orange juice on the side. There’s so many things we did that I will never forget. 

Poppy and I would also play this card game called Trash,  and I usually  beat him half of the time, but he was pretty good at it. He loved doing crossword puzzles and I tried doing one when I was little and I just put random words in that I knew. He also loved watching Jeopardy, which he was also very good at.  I always thought he was the smartest person ever. He even let me paint his toes once even though they scared me!  I can’t forget that whenever he had a cut or something I would run and get the first aid kit and a band aid. I would make sure the cut was cleaned before I put the band aid on and he would always make this funny noise like it hurt or something even though it didn’t. 

Poppy and Amma owned a camp on Great Sacandaga Lake,  and every time we went there he never went swimming. He would always say “No, I have chicken legs.”  He actually did because of how skinny they were, but I never cared because I just wanted him to go swimming with me. He loved joking around with me and would tell me that he couldn’t go swimming and I would always say “No” in this funny way. He would always pick on me saying “You can’t do that or who said you can do that.” I always found it funny in a way because nobody else would pick on me like that. 

I learned so many new skills and lessons from him that I didn’t learn from anyone else in my family. For example, I learned how to read his watch which is different from our phones, how to tie shoes, drive a car and a truck, especially an F250, how to fish out of a canoe, and so many other things that will help me in life. If I didn’t know how to tell time from an old watch, or how to tie my shoes, then how would I be able to go on with my life or even how to live. 

Poppy and Amma supported me in everything, especially when it came to sports. They would always be there for me and even if Amma couldn’t make it, Poppy was always there. After almost every concert or game we would go to our favorite spot which was Dairy Frost, our favorite ice cream place. We would always get the same ice cream which was vanilla ice cream on a cone. I would get a medium and he would get a small one and for some odd reason he would never eat the cone when he finished his ice cream. I remember asking my mom about it and he said it’s because other people touched it.

We also had a favorite place to eat when he picked me up from school. It was Jackie’s Diner. He would always make fun of me for ordering so much and the same thing every time. I would always get two pancakes, two pieces of French toast, and bacon with apple juice on the side. I would finish it almost every time. He would always get his black coffee. That’s the only way he would drink it. I can’t really remember what he would get because it was always different every time. He would also take me to Dunkin Donuts and we would always sit in the same spot right by the window and play “I Spy” while sitting there because we had nothing else to do. 

Sadly, my favorite person in the entire world, the person that I loved with all my heart, passed away in December of 2020. He was in Albany Med for a heart surgery and everything went fine. He came home and next thing I knew was that my mom called me and said that Poppy had passed away. I was in Maryland at the time and I never got to say goodbye. My mom said she didn’t want me to remember him that way, but I told her that I would be fine seeing him like that because I watched my other grandfather die right in front of me at the hospital. If I remember correctly,  Poppy died a year after and a day or two after my other grandfather. Now I only have one grandfather and two widow grandmas. I hardly see my one grandfather, but it’s okay. I still have my two grandmas that mean the world to me. My family always say that I am exactly like Poppy because I normally follow in his footsteps and eat almost everything he ate and I am very quiet like him too. I guess I can be Poppy,  but I am a replica of him in a younger girl version. To this day it is still hard to know that I never got to say goodbye or spend time with him because I was getting older. I know he is proud of me and how far I have come. No matter what happens I will always love him and he will always be my favorite person in the whole wide world.

(Here are some photos of him, to show how much he loved me and how much I loved him. People say that he only smiled when I was with him.)