Nearly three years ago, we did what we often do – walked on the beach and had a good long talk about our goals and progress and different things we see for our future together. It was during this walk that we decided we could start a blog together to chronicle some of these more financial goals. But what to name it!?!
Seriously. The naming thing was an issue for us! It actually delayed starting the blog for a solid month because we couldn’t pick one that we both liked and that didn’t seem to sound dirty out of context. (You’d be amazed at the number of websites that do… Seriously, try it out with some of your favorite blogs thinking with the mind of a twelve-year-old boy.)
Finally, we settled on Planting Our Pennies. It was a name that we both thought was okay – we like pennies and plants and growing them both! – and it also met the non-dirty-sounding criteria*. And to top it off, the name gave us an easy abbreviation that we could turn into the online pseudonyms we still use three years later – Mr & Mrs PoP.
What we didn’t think about until much later was that we had unintentionally created a namesake of a very fine man, my maternal grandfather, known to those that loved him as Pop or PopPop**.
PopPop was born in 1915 and grew up on a farm, one of eleven children. Pop ran into some difficulties fairly early in life, being kicked in the head by a horse as a teenager. He wasn’t expected to survive the incident, so the doctors advised the family against surgery to install a plate in his head to fix the dent (hole?) in his skull. Of course, he survived (or else I wouldn’t exist), but that meant that he was ineligible for military service in WWII due to his head injury. That also meant, unlike his many brothers, he was ineligible for GI Bill benefits that could have extended his education beyond high school.
But the lack of formal education and ever present head injury (he had a dent in his forehead visible until the day he died) never seemed to stop PopPop. He worked harder than anyone I have ever met, using everything that he learned on the farm growing up to perform jobs like aircraft maintenance and repair and later building engineering work. When he finally retired from his building engineering job at a hospital in his seventies, it was remarked that it took two new hires, whose ages added together were less than Pop’s, to replace him.
Please don’t confuse Pop for an all-consuming workaholic; he was just always moving, always doing something, and rarely resting. His version of resting was sitting in the den working on a puzzle, which I LOVED to do with him. The only times I remember him watching television were when he was on bed-rest when sick or injured.
After he retired (and heck, even before he retired), much of this energy was directed to the grandkids (like me) who were lucky enough to be young at the right time. We were over at Gram and PopPop’s all the time, and though we loved Gram, the reality is that we spent hours outdoors with PopPop – at the park, in the trees, in the backyard, or in the toolshed.
He was the one that taught me how to ride a bike – a skill I use every day – and had us kids into recycling way before it was cool or trendy to do so. We took all those empty cans of Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi (the only soda allowed at Gram and Pop’s) and under his guidance turned them into cold, hard cash.
Pop was the kind of guy who saw value where others saw none and taught us by example to create our own entertainment. I can’t tell you the number of times he would show off a new “dumpster find” in his workshop (a tv, a toaster, a pushcart, a chair…), and we would work together to dismantle it, usually creating some new toy altogether or jerry-rigging a new invention for around the house. He had this amazing ability to make any kind of plant grow (a skill learned during those droughts on the farm in his teens, no doubt), and was always quick with a smile or a hug, not asking anything in return.
I know how lucky I was to have had my Pop have such a big role in my young life and though he passed away before Mr PoP had a chance to meet him, I figure if I’ve inherited 1/4 of the ingenuity, inventiveness, frugality, environmental stewardship, and love that Pop had, I’ve got a good shot at living a very happy life – especially considering I have yet to be kicked in the head by a horse. =)
* Though this hasn’t stopped us from getting some random search traffic that indicates some folks are looking to plant a misspelled body part instead of a penny.
** Mama PoP also had a PopPop growing up, who was apparently very different, but equally amazing as my own. Maybe we can convince her to write about him sometime when she’s got some downtime in her retirement and she’s not flitting off on exciting European travel!
Did you have a Pop in your life? What was he like?