I was still half asleep. But since the walls in our house were not that thick, I was able to listen to my dad as he got up to answer the phone. I could tell that he was tremendously irritated that someone was calling at that time as well. “What? Who is it? ” I heard him say. The longer he stayed on the phone, the more I could hear his voice soften and become full of concern. I could immediately tell that something was wrong. At this point I was sitting up in bed, fully awake and trying to figure out what was wrong. Once my dad got off of the phone, I could hear that he was talking to my mom.
I could not make out anything that was being said, but I could tell that they were both very distraught. I heard my dad say that it was his younger sister, my Aunt Kelly, that had been living in Chico, California at the time, that was on the phone but I had no idea why. She hadn’t spoken to us for several years so I was extremely confused as to why she was calling. As I tried to figure out exactly what was going on, I started to drift back to sleep. I was lying down, but not fully asleep. My mind was wondering what the uproar was all about. I noticed some time later that my dad was on the phone again and heard my mom on her cell phone.
I could hear the apprehension in both of their voices, but I was still unable to figure out what was going on. I had no idea what to do. Should I get out of bed and see what was going on? Should I stay in my room and go back to sleep? The next thing I knew, my parents were downstairs talking to a woman whose voice I did not recognize. I wanted to know why Aunt Kelly had called, but I was afraid to find out. I was not certain of how much time had passed since the phone call came in, but I noticed that the sun was coming up. I could hear my mom coming up the stairs. She peeked into my room and saw that I was awake.
She then asked me to come into my sister’s room, so I slowly got out of bed and pondered what she was going to say. The three of us sat down on my sister’s bed and my mom started to choke up. Her voice shook as she told us, “I have some bad news. ” I stayed quiet, but Cassidy asked her what was wrong. “Your Aunt Kelly called,” she said, “she wanted to let us know that Poppy had a heart attack and died. ” I was dumbfounded: I wasn’t able to move. My mom then told us that the woman she and my dad were talking to was my dad’s Aunt Beverly. She had come over to give us the news, unaware that Kelly had already called us.
Once I heard that Poppy died, I cried for hours. I was wretched. I had not seen my grandparents in almost two years since they had moved from Thousand Oaks, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. I had spoken to Poppy on the phone for his birthday a few months prior to his heart attack. I could not believe that this had happened. I just wanted to pick up the phone and call him because I could not believe that just like that, he was gone. Later that afternoon, my parents left for Las Vegas to help my grandmother make funeral arrangements. My sister and I were unable to attend on account of it being so far away.
I will never forget the night that the dreaded phone call came. It was one of the most miserable days of my life. To this day any time I hear the phone ring late way, way early in the morning, my heart sinks to the deepest pits of my stomach. I have many pictures and great memories of Poppy and think of him often. My dad brought my sister and me home Poppy’s favorite New York Yankee’s baseball hat and some of his most treasured University of Southern California (USC) memorabilia, such as a National Champions football trophy from 1972. I will treasure these gifts forever.