The Man I Aspire to Be


My Pop Pop was the best man I have ever known.  He the was strongest, kindest and most selfless person.  The type of man who didn’t need to demand respect because it was always given to him.  I can rarely finish a sentence about him without tears pouring down my face.

I don’t know as much about his life as I would like.  Unfortunately he was taken from this world at the young age of 58.  He died of Liver Cancer.  I was only 10 at the time.

What I do remember is how much he loved me.  He spoiled me and treated me like I was the most important person on this earth.  I’ve never felt love like he showed me.  To this day he still has a huge impact on my life and I mourn his passing.

Pop Pop had the most amazing, deep, belly laugh.  It was so loud it would fill a room.   His laughing almost always ended with him running out of breath and coughing due to how much he smoked.  I can hear his laugh in my head as I type these words.  Nothing I put on paper to describe it would do it justice.

He smoked like a chimney.  Three packs of Kools a day.  I remember telling him he smoked too much and he should quit.  He never quit, but he cut back to one pack a day after my comment.

He had a sordid past, much like myself.  He was a State Police Officer in his younger days.  He was also an alcoholic who was arrested on several occasions and even ended up in jail.

In his 30’s he joined the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and became a drill sergeant.  He used this time to turn his life around and became clean and sober.  He educated himself, taking courses to be an addiction counselor.  Eventually getting his degrees and certificates to work in the field.

Working with addicts and alcoholics was his passion.  He understood the message and purpose; paying it forward helping 1000’s of those afflicted with the disease.  He worked diligently in New Jersey, fighting to better the lives of others.  In his obituary a friend described his passion for what he did by saying, “The man just didn’t know how to mince his words when the bottom line issue related to the quality care for and alcoholic in treatment and the ability of the facilities to deliver that care.” (more…)