It’s been a while since I’ve done a family post, and I have a lot to post about. There is Ben and my Cancun trip (amazing), an update on my cute girls, our current visit to Utah, Ben’s parents coming to Arizona to visit…and the list goes on.
Sometimes I just have to stop myself from all the cooking the baking to record moments in our everyday lives.
Well this is a moment that needs to be recorded, a moment that takes precedence to all the others.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit my grandpa, aka “Papa”, with my parents. He is currently experiencing stage 4 lung caner and is fighting to stay with us just a little longer. I think he knows we’re not quite ready for him to leave.
I had such an enjoyable time reminiscing over old photos and listening to stories of my dad growing up. It really was a visit to remember.
I know we all have our own Pops, Gramps, Grandpa, Papa, whatever you may call that special person in your life, but I’d like to argue just why my Papa may be the best around. What better way to argue this defense than with a list of memories that top the charts of nostalgia?
Memories of my Papa:
1. My very fist ski trip – My Papa and Grandma flew my brother and me out for a week long ski trip in Colorado and New Mexico. I can’t tell you how excited I was to a) fly alone with just my brother and b) ski for the first time, which was a big deal in my professional skier family.
The trip was great. That first day of skiing was magical. I, however, was terrible. But, in all my glory, I went flying down a beginner hill trying to show my grandparents just how much I was learning those first few hours on the slope. My grandma seeing the eminent danger ahead with the combination of an inexperienced 12 year old skier and a mass of weekend slope goers, went racing down the hill to try and slow me down.
I was actually able to save myself, but my poor grandma not so much. In her effort to save the day, she collided into another skier and blew out her knee, only to be transported down the mountain in an emergency snowmobile by ski patrol.
Yes, I broke my grandma’s leg. But instead of calling it quits, my dear old Papa insisted on finishing out the ski trip with just my brother and me. One grandpa + two teenage grandkids = BRAVE!
2. White water rafting – My Papa is the white water rafting king! Almost every family reunion with my Papa we would somehow find a river perfect for white water rafting. Each year I thought maybe this would be the year he would “sit this one out”, but no fail he would strap on a life jacket to go with his staple pair of jeans and tennis shoes and grab his oar, ready to go.
How you survive 4 white water rafting trips in your seventies without a single overboard is a mystery to me!
3. Wet kisses – Sorry Papa, but I gotta make a little fun of you. My papa was known for his kisses, wet kisses. Every time we would see Papa, he would give us a great big kiss on the lips.
A great big wet kiss on the lips.
I think we grandkids quickly learned the art of turning our heads just in the knick of time so that the kiss landed on our cheek, but I’m sure that someday I’ll find myself missing those smooches. Love you Papa!
4. Fireflies – One of our family reunions was meeting up in Virginia at my aunt Barbie’s house. From there we made our way out to Washington, D.C. to explore the sites and learn a little American history. The entire trip was amazing. I can’t tell you just how beautiful it is out east.
With all the sites we saw from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, nothing was more captivating than the fireflies.
Each night we would congregate back at aunt Barbie’s for dinner and conversation. The kids would play out back while the adults chit chatted. Each evening as the sun went down, the fireflies lit up. The grass would glow and sparkle. I’ve never seen them since, but I’ll always remember that magic.
5. Schnauzers – My family never had dogs. In fact we never really had pets. I had two hamsters throughout my life, that quite frankly I was relieved when they died. Pets are a lot of work, and stinky. As a kid, though, I always wanted a cute little dog. This was never going to happen.
But, whenever my Papa came to visit they would pack up their two schnauzers and bring them along. They weren’t allowed in the house, but I would spend almost every day on the back porch playing with those puppies. A kid’s dream, and a parent’s perfect solution to avoiding the full time responsibility of pet care.
6. Horses – Adding to the animal/pet theme, my grandparents were horse lovers, especially my grandma. Whenever we went to visit them in Amarillo, my Papa would set up horseback riding lessons for my older brother and me.
There is nothing like the feeling of sitting on an animal 5 times your size and trusting it to not kill you. I quite enjoyed it.
I remember one summer my brother getting thrown off the back of his horse and landing flat on his back. I felt so bad for him, but I think I secretly may have viewed it as his payback for all the torture he caused me growing up. After my grandparents moved to the mountains in Georgia, they bought horses of their own. We put our riding lessons to good use each time we paid them a visit.
7. Ribs – My Papa cooks the best ribs! My goodness, that man can cook a slab of meat. I’ve attempted his famous cooking technique for ribs, but haven’t quite mastered it. He slow cooks them in the oven for hours and then fires them up on the grill. He would give any BBQ joint a run for their money with this recipe. Who am I kidding?! He would blow them out of the water. I seriously haven’t had better ribs in my life than my Papa’s.
8. Character laugh – You won’t hear anything quite like my Papa’s signature laugh. When he gets going, he has this hilarious little snort that comes at the end of his laugh. It is the cutest thing ever. His chuckle is nothing short of contagious.
9. Monopoly – Each summer when my grandparents lived in Texas, we would make our way out to Amarillo for a family visit. I always remember busting out a game of monopoly on the kitchen table. I actually dreaded it.
To this day I hate that game. I have yet in my life to last longer than about 20 minutes in Monopoly. I’m not sure if it’s my bad luck or if I am just really terrible at that game. Either way, I avoid playing at all costs. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love the time sitting around the table listening to the family banter. There is no replacing that kind of family time.
10. My dad – This last memory can’t be summed up into just one moment. The best thing about my Papa is that he gave me the best dad ever.
My entire life has been made up of memories; some good, some bad, some strengthening, some defeating. But no matter the memory, they have one thing in common; a father that loves me and is there for me whenever needed.
That doesn’t just happen. That is something that is taught, through experiences and example. I’m not sure exactly what my Papa did, whether he was a perfect father or not, but he had a hand in molding a pretty awesome father just for me. I can’t thank him enough for being the man that gave me this gift.
And no matter what happens in this life and in this reality, whether my Papa’s time here is coming to a close or there is still some fight left, he will leave memories all around him. Some of these memories will continue to be just memories, but most will find life in other people, people that he has had a hand in shaping, people that he has influenced, people that he has impacted, people like my father. Long after my Papa is gone, part of him will continue to live in this great man.
Thank you Papa, for this reason and many others I love you.