When I grow up, I want to be just like Poppy.
This is Mark’s grandfather, Poppy.
He is an amazing individual.
First, he’s 81 years old, and I promise you that he’s in better shape than two-thirds of the U.S. population. A couple years ago he was running his usual 4 miles a day when he felt a little winded. This shortness of breath caused him to become concerned enough to make an appointment with his cardiologist. Come to find out, he had blockage in his arteries and needed heart surgery, but he had adverted a heart attack. I ask you: Who does that? Who on earth works out religiously and then gets concerned about some windedness and goes to visit their dr. about it? I’ll tell you who! The Poppy.
Second, he is passionate and faithful. Poppy has loved the same woman for his entire life, and he overcame some serious obstacles to make her his wife. Mark’s Mimi passed away 10 years ago, but Poppy has remained in love with her to this day. He still carries her picture in his wallet. Mimi is from Seoul, Korea. She was raised as nobility there. Her grandmother was a lady in waiting in the queen’s court. Her ancestors lived their lives within the palace compound. Mimi was married to a member of the Korean General Assembly before the Korean War. Mark’s mother is the off-spring of that marriage. When the communists overthrew the government in Seoul, Mark’s Mother’s biological father was kidnapped by the North Koreans (as far as we know he was assassinated). Mimi was left widowed with a child. Fortunately, Mimi was well-educated and multilingual. After the Korean War was over, Mimi got a job at the American Postal Exchange, and that’s where Poppy met her. They hit it off and started dating, but by the time Poppy decided he wanted to marry her it was too late. According to Uncle Sam, he had to report back to the U.S. immediately, and there was no time for nuptials. He returned to the U.S. without his love, and he spent the next 9 months working and saving money in order to return to Korea for her (much to his mother’s dismay). You see. Poppy is the son of a WASP Kentucky family. His father was a judge in the Kentucky State Supreme Court. It was expected that after he finished his law degree at the University of Kentucky and then served his term as an officer in the United States military that he would return home and marry a debutante. Instead, he returned to Korea married Mimi and brought her back to Kentucky with him where he started his law practice. He adopted her daughter (Mark’s mother), and the rest is history.
I’ve learned a lot from Poppy over the past 16 years of knowing him. Here are just a few:
1) Love what you do, and give it your all.
Friends, the man is, I repeat, EIGHTY-ONE years old, and he still works almost full time! He is a federal court judge for the Social Security Administration, and he has been for over 20 years. Every year for the past several years he’s told us, “This is my last year to work. I’m not going to renew my contract on the retired judge circuit when it’s up.” So far he’s still working. When the time comes around to quit, he just can’t do it. He enjoys what he does and can’t imagine what else he’d do with his time. Which leads to the next thing I’ve learned from Poppy…
2) Work hard to play hard!
Poppy LOVES vacation. Vacations are what he works hard to be able to do. He grew up with a grandfather that would take the family on vacations, and that’s what he does. If you see a 6 ft tall, 81 year old man with a Kentucky accent at a Disney theme park with 3 Asian-American great grandchildren working hard to keep up with him, that’s our Poppy and my kids. He loves Disney and roller-coasters as much as a kid loves candy, and he raised his grandson, Mark, to feel the same way. Now, the 2 of them are brainwashing my children to believe that no vacation is complete without spending at least 2 FULL days (from the time the park opens until the time it closes) at a theme park preferably a Disney park. We are so thankful to have a grandfather that loves to play and take us on vacation once a year. As my girlfriend says, “Everyone should have a Poppy.”
3) Be self-disciplined.
Poppy is the most self-disciplined individual I believe I have ever known. Until after having heart surgery, he worked out a minimum of 5 days a week. I’m talking full on running long distances well into his 70s. Now, at 81 post open heart surgery he works out 3 days a week because he says he needs a day in between workouts to recover. Ummm. I’m way younger, and I need at least a day between workouts. That’s if I bother to workout at all, but enough about me. Also, did I mention? He only eats 2 meals a day. That’s it. Sometimes he may eat a piece of fruit mid day, but mostly it’s just breakfast and dinner for Poppy. If all my family required of me from the kitchen was oatmeal and a muffin for breakfast and then salad, fish, bread, and steamed veggies for dinner each day, my life would be so much easier.
4) Love God and Love people.
This is definitely the grand finale. Poppy loves the Lord even more than he loves Mimi, his family, his job and vacations combined. How do I know this? By the way he has lived his life and dedicated himself to ministering to others and teaching God’s Word.
It wasn’t enough for Poppy and Mimi to just attend church. They have been very involved in the local church. They even earned seminary degrees in order to be more knowlegable teachers and leaders. They put those degrees to work too. Mimi was an outreach pastor in a Korean church. Poppy has taught Bible classes in the local church since the 1960s. He has been very dedicated to prison ministry as well driving a good distance every week to a juvenile prison to build relationships with and mentor young men.
In addition to giving their his time and talents over the years to God, he and Mimi have always been generous with finances too. They have given not only a tithe (10%) to their local church, but also given sacrificially to other organizations working around the world to meet the needs of the poor and oppressed.
James 1:27 says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Do you love what you do? Are you dedicated to your spouse and family? Do you work hard AND play hard (with your family)? Are you taking care of the body God gave you? What are you doing to love God? What are you doing to love people (especially those in need)?
These are some of the questions I am pondering as 2012 approaches. I hope that you will think on these too. I don’t know about you, but when my kids have kids I hope that I will be someone they aspire to emulate.