Happy Birthday In Heaven

My GrandparentsPoppa and Nana

Dear Grandpa,

I write you this letter on your birthday. I hope you’re enjoying it up in heaven. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss you. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you and miss you.

I miss hearing your voice on the other end of the phone when you and Nana would call on my birthday. I miss hearing you say “how are you doing squirt?” or when I would come to visit with my family you saying “where’s my squirt? Come give me a hug.” I especially miss you saying “did you get me anything,” when Nana and I would go out grocery shopping knowing full well we always did.

I miss walking into your house and the first thing we would see is you rising out of your chair to see who came through the door. You sitting in your chair was my fondest memory. You also yelling at the Yankees as if you were their coach when they made a bad play or didn’t do something right.

Holidays just aren’t the same without you and Nana making the rounds to visit all of us. Those were the days I could tell how much you loved all of us, how much– family meant to you. Your face would always light up every time you looked at your family. I could tell that you were so proud of the family you raised. You’d joke with everyone, and make everyone feel like they were the center of attention, you would give each of us your undivided attention and that meant so much to me.

The annual family camping trip just isn’t the same without you and Nana driving up around mid morning with fresh bread and oysters for our big cookout that afternoon that would usually go until 10 or 11 o’clock at night.

Most of all I miss the sleepovers and the stories of the old Troy days, I miss your perfect bear hugs, that were tight but not too tight, so warm, and perfect… I could seriously go for a few right now. I seriously miss sitting on your lap because I knew I had the best seat in the house.

There are so many things I wish you were still here for, like my brother’s upcoming wedding. My wedding (whenever that may be) I had planned to have a dance with you as well as my dad because you both have raised the bar so high for any man who comes along. I wish you were here to meet my kids (whenever I have them).

Even now that we are approaching the two year anniversary of your passing it is still hard to believe you are gone just like that. But someday I will proudly tell my children all about how amazing their great-grandpa is, and was.

You were so kind, caring, loving, and supportive. You were also so gentle. You were a giant teddy bear.

Every single day I wish I could call you and hear your voice call me squirt, or get one more bear hug from you but I know that will never be enough, I wish I could tell you about what has been going on in my life, but I know that you are looking down on all of us and you already know what is going on and keeping us safe. You are and were one of the strongest and toughest men I knew, because you fought all the way to the end. The love you had for Nana and the rest of the family was awe-inspiring. I hope to one day have a family of my own, filled with the love you had for Nana.

Thank your for being such an amazing grandpa. I can and will never replace you or forget the memories we have shared, or the stories you have told, I will treasure them forever. Thank you for being such an amazing role model. I love you and miss you every day, my guardian angel.

Love you always,

Your Squirt

My Grandpa, John “Poppa” Tracey

Yesterday, was a very difficult day for me as I said goodbye to my grandfather, my Poppa, John Tracey. He lived 84 beautiful years and raised 6 incredible children, including my own father. His nicknames for me were Carrot Top- I was his first redheaded grandchild, or Squirt- because I was short as child.

We developed a bond that is really hard to explain, as a child when I would sit on his lap I would just trace his panther/jaguar tattoo – and I did the same as I said I love you to him for the last time I saw him I chose not to say goodbye to him because it was too hard for me. He has always called me Squirt– all the way to the end I will always be his Squirt.

I remember him telling me stories of his days growing up, we shared a love of westerns– African Queen, we loved doing the crossword puzzle together, and when attending family parties- inside or in the backyard I always kept my eyes out for Poppa because I loved his hugs they were always warm, tight (not too tight), and full of love; he always gave the perfect hug. I could go for one of those right now.

He loved family, fishing, golfing, New York Yankees, and talking about his Troy days. I loved watching him tinker, every summer he and Nana would come visit us during the Tracey Family Camporee, our annual 3 day camping trip on Saturday they would bring fresh bread and the clams for our big cookout that evening, and when I moved into the place I live now he brought over some stuff to seal up my driveway its still sitting in my basement. Poppa always loved to help out.

Seeing him at my college graduation in 2013 with a smile on his face I could tell that he was proud that through my disability I succeeded – he always had a smile on his face, that is what I loved about him is even when he was hurting or not feeling well – he was smiling.

He was a soldier for the US Army, in the Korean War came home and married my beautiful grandma, and raised 6 incredible children and 13 grandchildren.

It is the hardest to lose those who loved and nurtured us, and who we loved and cared for most. I have a treasure trove of memories that I will hold on to forever, that will make me laugh and smile. I will miss him so much but I will never forget his beautiful smile. I keep hearing his voice. I miss him terribly, I miss his hugs and will love him and miss him for a long time.

RIP Poppa 1936–2020