I sweetly overheard Ryan the other night telling Maisley the story of “A Boy Named Poppi”. It gave me the idea to write my own bedtime story about Poppi’s life for the girls to always have. Unlike our other made-up stories about “Sammie the Kangaroo dog” and “Wolf Girl” on her flying scooter, this one is as real as I can remember.
A few moons and many stars ago, a little boy named Poppi was born amongst the strawberry fields at the crossroads of America. His mom first said, “He looks like a little bird!”. Other people would later say, “He was just born good”. He was second in what would become a family of six kids. Three boys, three girls. His tiny school was shaped like a house. He never showed up late and always followed the rules.
One day, his family decided to pile into their station wagon and head west. All the way west; across Kansas and Colorado, through Nevada and into California. They eventually settled at 521 Mountain View Place, a small home with a bigger front yard than back. All six kids shared one small room. Gigantic avocado and grapefruit trees lined the grass while rose bushes and birds of paradise colored in the edges of the lawn.
They had a neighbor named Henry who would periodically peak his head over the fence and bring them handmade wooden toys. And a scrappy dog named Dino (pronounced deeno) who was infamous for sending the family on treasure hunts for missing belongings.
Poppi’s first job was riding his bike around the neighborhood, throwing newspapers onto front porch mats. Getting an extra scoop of mint chocolate chip Thrifty ice cream for his beautiful baby blue eyes made him the envy of every kid on the block. Poppi had an arm for baseball and fingers for the piano. Family vacations were mostly spent around a campfire, telling stories and making memories he would live to tell later. Life was simple.
One time, on his 13th birthday, Poppi shot his new bow and arrow up into the sky, struck a cloud, and as luck would have it, rain fell out of the sky! Another time, he had to walk up hill both ways in the snow to school. Only one of those stories turned out to be true.
Poppi was 5’1 and 105 pounds of wiry grit when he started high school. His strawberry blonde hair flipped up at the end like the lip of a wave. He grew into his strength and eventually became a wrestler whose name appeared in the local newspaper a few times.
Poppi graduated from high school and continued to learn at Cal State Fullerton. Outside of the classroom he was a craftsman; helping to construct things around the house like a new garage and a finished attic. He was a quiet leader, loved planning a good party and always raised his hand to help someone.
In his early 20s, while Poppi was playing baseball one night, a wild Italian named Nonni was serendipitously sitting in the stands. She looked out onto the field and to her surprise, thought, “I’m going to marry him someday.” And she did. It was a match made of teamwork, hard work, sarcasm, adventure, fun and unconditional love.
Also around that time, Poppi, Uncle Chris and Popster opened the doors to Aliso Heating and Air Conditioning. Poppi was a bootstrapping entrepreneur who modestly made it to the big leagues. He loved sales and getting to know people. Poppi and Uncle Chris were the first people in and the last ones out, every single day.
Nonni and Poppi had four daughters. He was such a proud dad. When other people would ask if he had wanted a son, he would kindly reply, “I always wanted four daughters!” Poppi lived for soccer games, track and swim meets. His feet traveled all over the world; to the wildlife jungles of Africa, the cobblestone streets of Italy, the glaciers of Chile and the Remarkables of New Zealand, to name a few.
But do you know what Poppi loved even more than all the wonders of the world? The tiny souls that gave him the name, that made his heart “Poppi”.
When all of his work here on Earth was done, Poppi took off into the sky to join God and the rest of his family waiting for him. When you look up at night, he is the brightest star shining right near the big dipper. You can pop open the door to Heaven and talk to him any time, anywhere.
Good night, Poppi, we love you!