Remembering Pop-Pop

Hey everyone, I’m out of town this week visiting family.  Unfortunately, we had a funeral last week and I was not able to attend.  Here is my tribute to the man who has been on my mind for the last few days.

Last week, our family lost one of the classiest members of our family. After being ill for some time, my grandfather, Harry Faux, passed away.
The first thing I thought about when I reflected on Pop-pop’s life was what has come to be known as the “Harry Hug.” The hug is not a foreign gesture to us, but few people have made hugging an art like Pop-pop did. He would pull you into his arms, enveloping you into his grip, and then hold you for a brief moment. At the strongest point of his grip, he would nuzzle his face into your shoulder, and let out a quiet sigh, slowly relaxing his grip as he broke contact. As he stepped away, you would get the feeling that he left a piece of himself with you and you left one with him.
I found out about Pop-Pop’s passing via Facebook and I have been keeping tabs on the reflections and memories people are sharing about this man. My cousin, Courtney, wrote about how he made her feel like the most beautiful girl standing in the room. As I thought about Courtney’s comment, she reminded me of a trait I had forgotten. Pop-Pop was good at making each person he encountered feel like they were special and important. I cannot think of a time when I visited him where I felt like he was distracted or inattentive. Even the week before his death, despite his weariness from his health problems, he made a point to learn about my latest move to a new state. “So, what are your plans, dear,” he asked when we spoke on the phone. He let me gush for a while and even encouraged me to continue when I slowed down, worried about boring him. I don’t know why I should be surprised by the behavior. I saw him act the same away every time he ran into a colleague or friend when we would go out to dinner with him.
His great capacity for listening made him an excellent story teller. I remember sitting with Pop-Pop and my family on his porch during summer evenings as he told stories about the happenings in Columbia County. I never knew who he was talking about, but he was certainly an engaging speaker.
Another trait I admired about Grandpa was his ability to figure out income tax returns without a computer. I used to think it was rather backwards for him to stick to the pen-and-paper approach, especially as confusing as I find the federal income tax code to be. However, I have come to appreciate his expertise. Now, I see that by sticking to his methods, he provided the service of putting actual thought into the tax returns he configured for his clients rather than leaving the results of the return to the whim of a machine.
I mentioned earlier that Pop-Pop was one of the classiest members of our family. Not only was he always dressed neat as a pin (even when doing yard work,) but he handled so many things with a grace and dignity few people would try because it’s so much easier to be “only human.” I wish there were more men in this world like him.
My Uncle Rich posted on Facebook how my grandfather, his father, was a gift—a blessing who has returned home. My uncle also wrote about how he knows my grandfather will be preparing a space for him when he returns home as well. It made me think of a picture I once saw—a drawing of Jesus embracing a person as they walk toward the gates of Heaven. If that is what the afterlife is really like, I hope when I get there, Jesus takes me into his arms and whispers, “I learned the ‘Harry Hug’ from your Pop-Pop himself.”