In our family, Pop-up is always exactly where he wants to be…
I must go back a few decades here to tell you a little bit about my late mother-in-law, Flo. Flo lived her 89 years bigger than life, bigger in heart and love than I can possibly explain. Flo loved her family and she loved being in-the-know, in-the-mix, up-front-and-center whenever one of her kids, grandkids or great-grandkids was somewhere, anywhere. Flo was a front row kind of gal; a knock-down, push-away kind of gal if anyone got in her way or her view at a pre-school/school concert, swim meet, little league game, basketball game, theater production, church service, etc. that she had come to see. And, oh… if someone dared step in front of her or nudge her out-the-way, there’d be a glare and, most likely, a comment. Or ten.
Flo was a legend.
When I first met Flo, this little characteristic was a bit disconcerting. My Mom, Rita, was, and still is, a hold-back kind of gal; a let’s-not-push-our-way-through-the-crowd kind of gal. I grew up with this polite, this reticently lovely lady. I love my Mom for this, and I grew to love Flo for that.
I’ve had a lot of “point-of-view” assessing to do over the years and have ended up somewhere in the middle of Flo and Rita, maybe leaning in my older years a little bit more toward Flo-ism. I think of Flo and smile each time I nudge or inch my way closer to front-row to catch my grandkids… often, now, nudging and inching my Mom, Rita, along with me.
My husband Barry, aka “Pop-up”, is just like his Mom.
He’s kind of legendary, too, in his ability to get the right seats, the right view, the right angle of anything our grandkids are participating in. It’s genetic. Seriously. Barry gets it done. Barry’s got an angel on his shoulder, yelling directions in his ear. Seriously.
Take this past Sunday, at the YMCA New England Championships. Before the meet began, there was a call for timers on deck; back-up timers in the event that the electronic board didn’t work properly during a swim. Barry and I both have lots of experience as timers and back-up timers because we’ve been involved in swimming and swim meets for, oh… 30 years or so. Barry is an all-around good guy, and he volunteered to time. The entire meet. This is why I love him so much.
Anyway, timers time. Timers use sophisticated stop-watches to time. Timers take their jobs very seriously at timing.
But Barry is also a grandfather.
And Barry is just like Flo.
So when our grandson William placed first in his event, where was Barry?
Up front and center.
Just like Flo would be.
Protocol be damned (if there is medal ceremony protocol for grandfathers).
Pop-up wasn’t gonna let this moment slip him by.
So right up with the swim officials, right up with the ceremony officials, right up there with Flo whispering in his ear, there was Barry…
Yep. There he is.
I wasn’t sure what the waving-his-arm official in the red shirt was saying while Pop-up went in for the high-5, but my daughter Audrey was sitting next to me in the stands and said, laughing, “Dad’s the only timer in the history of swimming who’ll get kicked off deck!”
(Barry would later tell me that the red-shirted official said, “That’s your grandson? Great job!”)
Yes, in our family, Pop-up is always just where he wants to be.
Just like Flo.
But there’s one more detail to this story. One more generational thing. One more movin’-on-in, just like Flo. See the little guy in the blue swimsuit next to Barry? The guy up-close-and-personal, cupping his mouth in giant cheers? That’s my grandson Jake, cheering for his cousin.
Just like Barry.
Just like Flo.
A guy right up-front in my heart!