I lost my sweet Papa 2 weeks ago today at the ripe ole age of 93. We attended his funeral a little over a week ago. It was bittersweet news when I got the text from my mom that he had passed. We knew it was coming so you think you would be prepared but you never totally are.
My sweet mom has been caring for him round the clock with her 2 sisters taking shift changes every so often for the last several months. She would often (daily towards the end) send us texts about how he was doing good or bad. One day it would be a bad day and she was thinking he wasn't gonna make it much longer and then the next he would be his spunky little self and completely turn around.
He was ready to go. Whenever you would ask him how he was doing he would say..."I'm not sure if I'm coming or going." His last year he was in a lot of physical pain and would get sick often. Despite not feeling good the majority of the time he ALWAYS had a smile on his face and remained cheerful...I'm not sure how he did it!
I'm excited for the fact that he is now free from all the physical and emotional pains of getting old. I have decided being old is a HUGE trial in and of itself!! To lose your independence of going and doing what you want, when you want, after a lifetime of living that way would be SOOO hard!! Life is hard anyways...throw that on top and every day would be truly "enduring to the end."
On my grandpa's last birthday card I wrote him "Papa...I'm not going to lie...I hope I don't live as long as you have. Life is too hard to endure that long BUT I am SO glad that you have been around this long because you have blessed my life and many others!" I know that sounds like a weird thing to say but it is true.
It's hard to say goodbye to someone that has been in your life for 29 years...someone who has loved you unconditionally...someone who has taught you through their words and example...someone who you know would give the shirt off of his back not just to you but to anyone! So I shed tears of sorrow for my physical loss of no longer being able to go and visit him...hug and kiss him, hold his soft hand, see his sweet smile, and see the love in his eyes BUT I shed tears of happiness for he is no longer in pain but enjoying the blessings he deserves for the AMAZING man that he was!! He is reunited again with his son Bert who died in his 40's in 1999 from a car accident. He told my mom, the hardest thing that he ever had to do was bury his son. He told my mom, "he thinks about him every day." I can only imagine what a reunion that was!! After almost losing my son...I understand!
Papa, his son Bert, and my dad
My Papa was a great example. He was a tough cowboy who knew how to work and loved to work. We often would gather as a family (cousins, aunts, uncles) to have "work" days...not to play although we had a great time together nonetheless. We worked together and we worked hard. That is where my mom got it and that is why she worked us to death growing up! When I was young I would tell her, "you just had kids to be your slaves!" :) Oh how little I knew then and how grateful I am now for her teaching me how to work!
He was an honest man who when he gave you his word EVERYONE knew you could trust him.
He was a giving man. Often times when we were there to visit he would give us some money. You couldn't say no. He wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of.
He was a good friend. Almost every morning when he was feeling up to it he would go to breakfast in Benson (which is about 15-20 minutes away) with his friends. When he could no longer drive they would come pick him up. In his last days he said...: “I don’t think I have any enemies. I tried to be good to everyone. I have the greatest friends!”
He was one who always made you feel loved and important. One of my cousins was quoted at his funeral saying,“When you were with him, you felt that you were the only one who mattered.”
I was always amazed at how much he loved and was sincerely concerned about Dakota. He probably only saw Dakota 3 times after his accident (since he lives in AZ and we are in UT) but he would ask my mom often about him and when we were there it was like he loved him on a whole other level. He would watch him tenderly with his loving eyes and just love to hold him and touch his hand. The last time we were there he told me, "Me and him (Dakota), we think the same." I didn't totally understand what he meant by that but after talking to my mom he meant he understood how Dakota felt and the way his brain worked. He knew Dakota understood much more then he could say and papa too would get frustrated at not being able to remember what he wanted to say or say what he wanted to say right. He understood Dakota on a different level then most people and he loved him tremendously.
He was a great father! Over the last couple of years whenever we would go to visit or chat with him on the phone...he wouldn't ever talk to you without telling you how amazing my mom is, how talented she is, and how good she is to him. He would love to tell you stories too about her growing up and her accomplishments. He was SO proud of his kids and loved them very much!!
Mom and Papa
Some of his witty sayings that my mom shared were:
· “It’s good enough for a town this size.”
· “Let a smile be your umbrella.” He could find something good in any situation.
· “If you are going to do something, give it your best.”
· “If you don’t have a pocket knife, you might as well not have pants on.”
· “You don’t have to be a horse’s behind, just because everyone else is.”
· “When you fall off, get right back on.” One of the greatest lessons!
· When you got an “owie,” he’d say, “Heck, I’ve had worse cuts on my lip and never quit whistling.”
· “It’s good enough for me and I’m hard to please.”
Being at his funeral was very special. Zach and I booked flights right away. It was too expensive and hard to bring Dakota so last minute but I am SOOO grateful we were there. Although seeing him at the viewing tugged at my heart I had the chance to stand there alone and just admire him and say my goodbyes. I felt his spirit surround me as I stood there and I knew he was close and that he was happy.
Me, my parents, and siblings
Zach and I
My mom and her siblings (minus Bert)
His funeral service was amazing and I LOVED learning things I didn't even know about him...my love for him grew even more. One cool fact I learned was that he wasn't a deputy by profession because he wanted to be. The sheriff of their town actually came to him and asked him to be his deputy. He was just a cowboy raising his cows and didn't want anything to do with being a deputy but after several pleads from the sheriff he became a deputy and was a great one for almost 24 years!!
He was a darn cute deputy too!
They lined the streets on both sides saluting us as we drove into the cemetery
Listening to the man he was made me want to be more like him and become an even better person. Being at a funeral really makes you think about your life...how you are living...what legacy you want to leave behind...what you want people to remember about you...the example you hope that you are. You can't walk away from there without feeling a sense of I want to live better...I want my papa to look down from heaven and be proud of the decisions that I am making each moment of my life!
His final request that my mom shared with us all was that we would love each other, help each other, and all get along.
What a WONDERFUL world this would be if EVERYONE lived by these words!!
Papa I sure love you!!! Thank you for loving me, teaching me, supporting me, encouraging me & uplifting me for the last 29 years. I truly believe that you are even closer to us now then ever before and have the ability to help us even more now that you are on the other side. I often wonder how many times you have visited Dakota already?? I wish that he could tell me...but I know you are with us! We will miss seeing your sweet face but I look forward with great joy to the day I get to hug you again!!! Until then...I will try and live my best in honor and remembrance of you!
He almost always had suspenders on since he had no bum to hold up his britches! ;) I bought Dakota his first pair of suspenders at H&M the other day and when I put them on him I couldn't help but think of Papa. ;)
Dakota in his suspenders! I hope he grows up to be like Papa!! ;)
Me (very young ;) ), Papa, and Nana (his mom), and her baby! She had Alzheimer's and took care of that doll like it was her own.
Grandma, Papa, and us
Dakota used to have lots of fun at Papa's house...
Brushing the dog with Grandma
Just workin like a good cowboy should! ;)