Dear Papa Joe,
Nearly one year ago, you left this beautiful world for a far more beautiful place. A place much higher than we may ever know and a place where I hope has been one of the best seats in the house. And still, even one year later...I can't seem to write a letter to you without even starting with a few tears. I know it doesn't surprise you, I've always been the emotional one. So why not start with a few tears and end with many more.
In the last year, you've seen your wife of nearly 62 years grieve your loss, talk to you (still), and yet have peace with the Lord through it all. I can guarantee you there's not a day she doesn't think of you and perhaps is talking to you from the other room on occasion still. Actually I know that for a fact (she's told me once or twice). You will always own that woman's heart and will to her last day. That's One. True. Love. if you ever ask me! But she did find herself a little guy. His name is Nikki and is a rescue dog. That thing has been keeping Grandma busy, making sure she gets a walk in each day, and more than anything, helping her get through the nights. She is still missing you like crazy and as she says, "the nights are still so hard for me" as she speaks through her tears. I don't dream of the day I lose Ty by any means, but I dream of making it to 61+ years with him to know and understand what it is like for Grandma. Be sure you keep watching out for her from wherever you may be!
After you had passed away, Grandma had said one of the most wonderful things that truly made everything not only come together for me, but bring peace to my mind & heart and for her as well. That one thing she said..."I wanted to ask the Lord 'why?' 'why did you take Joe from me?'...then she said, "I realized I shouldn't ask that at all because he had 87 wonderful years and I had nearly 62 of those wonderful years with him. I was truly blessed to have all that time." For whatever reason, that one statement made it all ok. It brought me peace that she would be alright, even if it was a struggle to get to that point. Grandma was going to be ok, I was going to be ok, and the rest of the family would make it through as well. And as you know, we've all been doing just that. Let's just say, you built strong and we continue to live strong together as a family.
From above, you've seen your children mourn, struggle, and yet grow from the loss of their father. They've, of course, continued on with their lives over the year in all sorts of ways. But I'll tell you, there have been many moments they all have picked up the phone to call you or had wished to call you. I know as a daughter, I can't imagine what it's like to not be able to call my own Dad. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. And although they know it's their reality (that you've passed), it doesn't mean they don't have their moments. But thanks to Uncle Rob, we still have a saved voicemail from you...that voice of yours can never be forgotten. It still lingers for me here and there, maybe not as much as it once did but I'm sure happy to greet it when it returns! But to be honest, I think your kids partly miss all your calls (even if it's the calls to fix the lightbulbs, something broken in the house, or to learn a little something from you). Thanks to Grandma, she's picked up where you left off on all the phone calling...she has lost nearly every credit card at one point or another, a piece of jewelry here and there, and who knows what else (thank goodness she's found them all. I guess that's what happens when you hide them in places you forget you put them in). She's made sure to not only use her phone calls, but take up the rest of yours you left behind. Somebody had to take them on, right?
You raised your children right in teaching them to care for their mother...Uncle Rob is good at coming by and checking in with Grandma. He and my dad like to take her or meet her at church often. Aunt Sue has her over for dinners and of course sees her nearly every day since she is right across the way. Dad still does a lot of fixing around the house for her and takes her every Tuesday to see if their BiMart cards are the weekly winners. And Aunt Carrie is the best at calling and making trips to see her being so far away...in fact, she's probably the best at calling and checking in on everybody. Good thing you had 4 kids...there's lots of love and help to go around!
And your grandkids...you'd have a lot to be proud of, but of course I'm just a bit biased (probably because I'm one of them). The twins are getting closer to being adults and out of high school; your two youngest are seeing the world via basketball and in Costa Rica, Danielle graduated but is finishing up her last class to fulfill her degree, Staci is working hard as she always does in life and is happy (and happy in love I like to think too ;-)), and Steve is on his way to fulfilling his training to be a police officer in Vancouver (that means we get our own personal cop around here...or so I like to think). Curt's hard work has paid off. Nothing like a guy with perseverance...sub job after sub job, naughty kids after naughty kids. But he landed a middle school teaching job, is coaching at the CrossFit gym, and as always, lending his hand to others just as our Dad has and you did as well in various areas of life. They all are becoming quite the people in this world! I must say that I'm quite proud as one of the older cousins in the family...pretty cool to watch them all grow and become their own person in this world.
And then there's us. Marriage has been good and Lord willing, it continues to do so. We like to thank all those in the family who had strong & lengthy marriages to set good examples (let's just say you were one of them). Before you passed, we were unable to share some of our life goals, desires, and plans with you...instead, you decided to take the best seat in the house and watch as we've gone through some and continue to go through others. I have always wondered what you'd think of our next journey in life, what questions you'd ask, & what you'd be concerned about. But mostly, I'd wonder what advice you'd have for us. You were a wise man and it is something I cherished when I was to an age I could appreciate all you offered.
But something happened a few weeks ago that gave us that 'go ahead'....however, I must first explain something to those who don't know the background from last year.
**For those of you who don't know the story of the hummingbird, Papa Joe was guessing song names and artists on the music channel and/or humming songs to see if people could guess the names of them in the last few days of his life. So I began to call it his 'hum that tune' game. The morning after he died and I hadn't slept a wink, I peeked out the window and found a hummingbird flying around in my lavender bushes. I have always liked to think that it was YOU giving me the sign that you made it, that you were in a good place, and that you weren't suffering. That YOU were now humming tunes and enjoying the view from above.
(I have never been one to wear much jewelry, but I was given two things last year...one was
this hummingbird and another hiding below that I'll share another time. It's become my
everybody reminder of PJ and something I'll continue to hold close to me)
Since then, I had only seen a hummingbird once thereafter, thinking that was the last bit I'd see of Papa Joe...that was until a few weeks ago. During an important meeting about "our life" as we sat outside around the Papa Joe picnic table, here came a hummingbird that flew right by and hovered in the backyard for a short time. At that moment, I felt blessed to have the presence of that hummingbird. You or not, Ty and I like to think it was our blessing from you to go forth...to walk that journey the Lord has guided us down...to let it be one of the most amazing things we'll ever do in life. So we thank you, we thank that hummingbird, and we thank the Lord for giving us you for 87 years.
You've been missed by all, thought of always, and continue to be loved in memories and spirit.
We can't talk future plans and ask for your guidance, thoughts, and prayers...but we will ask that you watch over us as you have this last year with our life decisions and most importantly, make those quick "fly-bys" to give us the go ahead. We don't mind being blessed with your presence in any shape or form. So please, bring on the hummingbirds. We'll be waiting ;-)