This is a hard post to write, but at the same time, it's the easiest thing in the world to talk about my grandpa.
I blogged about Papa's funeral last year. I can't believe it's been a year. He was sick, especially near the end, and I know he is so happy now. That knowledge that he's happy and that he's where he deserves to be is the only bright beam when we lose a loved one. That and the sweet peaceful knowledge that we'll see him again.
When Papa passed away and we were preparing for the funeral, one thing that kept popping into all our minds was, "we loved him because he first loved us."
Honey and Papa made it a priority to be a big part of our lives. They loved spending time with their grandchildren. Growing up, I always knew they loved us, not just because they told us so frequently, but by how they treated us. Papa walked my little brother Sean and I to the bus stop almost every day in elementary school, and he was always there when we got home. The bus would pull up and Papa would be standing there with our golden Labrador, Cougar, waving with his ever-present happy smile waiting for us. We would get off the bus and run to give Papa a hug. All our friends loved our grandparents, and many of my friends knew my grandparents better than they knew their own.
Papa was Mr. Fix-it. He could fix anything! With 12 grandkids, it seems like every day Papa was fixing someone's bike chain, or pumping up someone else's tires. He also loved cars. He taught Drivers' Ed at Orem for years, and had a passion for cars. Most kids have to struggle to get all their roading hours in with their parents to qualify for their drivers' licenses, but Papa would call me and ask me if I wanted to go for a drive to practice. He made sure I got plenty of hours driving in the dark and during rain storms too so I could be extra-prepared. (When I took my actual driving test, the woman who tested me said I was the only 100% she'd ever given. Thanks, Papa!)
I could tell stories about him all day. One of my favorite of Papa's qualities was his ability to be happy in any circumstance. You'd never know it by his attitude, but he had a lot of hard times in his life. People very close to him didn't treat him like they should. But Papa was always happy, always smiling, and never held any grudges. He was an amazing example of not being a victim of circumstance. When he was dealt a difficult hand, he didn't dwell on it. He chose happiness. He made a conscious choice every day to be happy. It wasn't always easy for him-- how could that ever be easy for anyone? But he did it. Always smiling, usually whistling, and never dwelling on the negative. He was a very forgiving man. Yet another lesson Papa inadvertently taught me by the way he lived his life. People who forgive live the happiest lives.
There have been definite times since his passing when I've been able to feel Papa nearby. I am so grateful for those peaceful moments when I can feel his presence. Tears instantly spring to my eyes and I'm filled with so much warmth as I think about the wonderful lessons I learned from my amazing grandpa. Little reminders about not being in such a rush. Taking time to appreciate the little things, and choosing to be happy. He was a wonderful man, and together with my equally wonderful grandma, succeeded in accomplishing much good in this world.
It's hard, and we miss him, but I am forever grateful that I was able to know him. My heart goes out to the people who never had the opportunity--or worse, had the opportunity but disregarded it-- to know their grandparents. Especially with grandparents as wonderful as mine, there would be few greater tragedies.
July 31, 2011- One year later
If there's one thing to be known about the Peterson women, it's our uncanny and often hilarious ability to dress almost identical on a daily basis. Inadvertently, of course. Repeating color patters, and even complete outfits, as demonstrated by my mom and Steph, more fully illustrate this point. We're just missing Tiff in this picture, but I'd bet my life she was wearing a pink shirt that totally matched Lisa's.
I looked over and noticed Blake was wearing Papa's socks.
Honey and Spencer watching the rest of the grandkids racing.
Telling our favorite Papa stories.
Yellow was Papa's favorite color. So fitting for a man who lived such a happy and bright life. We released yellow balloons into the air, just like we did at his funeral. Here are my parents watching the balloons.
We love you, Papa! Thanks for all the trips to the creamery to get ice cream, all the times you loaded us in the back of your blue truck to go fishing, all the trips to rock canyon park to go sledding, all the jokes you told, all the love you shared, and all the lessons you taught. You are one of a kind.