Pop was always there and will always be remembered

Fernando. Fred. Freddie. Hon.

Dad. Foh-pa. Bop.

Grandpa Marinucci. Honorary big brother.

Mr. Marinucci. Marinuch.

My father was called many different names by a myriad of folks. As for me? I called him Pop.

I was pretty much the only one who referred to him that way. I think that’s why I loved calling him it so much.

Pop wore many hats. Most of them knit and with a big fluffy tassel on the top. My favorite is the red, green and white one with the holly pin he always wore “a Natale.” That’s “at Christmas” to the average non-Italian bear.

Indeed, my Pop was a lot of other things, too. He was the hardest worker I’ve ever known, sometimes holding down three jobs at a time to provide for all of us. He was a black belt in karate, a first aid responder, a master gardener.

He was a scuba diver, a swim instructor and a lifeguard.

He was the most patriotic American EVER. If you didn’t vote — even if the candidates were unopposed and there were no issues on a primary ballot — you didn’t tell him because voting’s a right and privilege he took VERY seriously.

Pop was a serial teaser and a voracious reader who enjoyed a cup of joe with his NY Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and local papers every Sunday. He seemed partial to a particular columnist on these Sunday Life sections of the Tribune Chronicle and Vindicator.

But then, who doesn’t love Burt Cole?

Yes, Pop liked that. He also liked to advise and would often toss out his famous “Lemme give you a little speech” line before launching into what can only be described as a monologue of the SALIENT POINTS of a matter. Know what? He was always spot on.

Pop also really liked:

• The original “Star Trek” series, “WKRP in Cincinnati,” “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and “Smokey and the Bandit”;

• The Steelers and THE Ohio State Buckeyes;

• The warmth of Florida in winter… and watching the sun rise any day of the week;

• Classical music on WYSU-FM — especially Italian opera, of course.

• Dark chocolate. But, like, bitter dark.

• Burnt stuff, i.e. chips, popcorn… basically most foodstuffs. At restaurants, he’d have the chef “slightly burn” his entree on the RARE occasion he ordered steak (pun intended);

“Take me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver;

• Baked apples and pears, and oven-toasted almonds;

• Gruyere cheese. Mozzarella cheese. Ricotta cheese. Parmigiano cheese. Pecorino… OK, fine, the man liked cheese;

• He liked big, seven-course, whole-family dinners with everyone crammed around the table eating, debating, laughing. “That makes my heart smile,” he’d say.

And Pop liked reminding us: “If you’re ever in trouble, just dial M for Marinucci and I’ll be right there.”

He always was.

I’m not really sure what to dial now that he’s up there, so far out of my area code. Man, his baby girl misses him very much already.

One thing I do know as I’m navigating the new normal of a world — Pop felt fortunate.

Not one for PDA, he repeatedly told me, especially recently, how lucky he was to have found such a wonderful partner to walk through his journey with him, how blessed he was by his life with my mom, how much he respected and adored her.

He loved his children dearly, too. But those grandkids — let’s face it, those three musketeers kicked the original trio of us right to the curb, capisce?

As for that little mini-me I birthed? That’s clearly Pop reincarnated.

So even though we lost him last week, Pop’s still here — and that makes my heart smile.

I know I’ll see you later, Pop, but not if you see me first (that was one of his favorite quips).


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