Oh Papa ~
From the very, very beginning, I was your girl. No denying it. We shared a special, unshakable bond. I was your girl. I wasn't your first grandchild, or even your first granddaughter, but there was (and still is) absolutely no denying I was your favorite, from the very beginning, to the very, very end. We loved each other this much but we always knew this much meant "more than the entire universe."
Because of you, I grew up with absolute, unwavering, unconditional love. Because of you, I know not to settle for anything less, or to give anything less, when it comes to those I love. Because of you, I grew up confident, and strong, and beautiful, in the way only the truly luckily loved do. Because of you, I had happy memories, even during the unhappy times. Because of you, I am who I am today. And for that, I'll always think of you with a smile and a quiet little thank you.
Because of you, I'll never see a twisty-tie without feeling the urge to save it for later, when I might need it. Same goes for the old-style coffee cans. Because of you, I have a treasured handmade dollhouse that I will keep for always. Because of you, I know to keep a few treasures that make you happy for pulling out during the bad times, like the Cabbage Patch Doll that only came out to play whenever I lost my hearing. Because of you, part of me always believes a man should carry a hanky. Because of you, I'll never stop thinking of trains (real ones or model ones) as anything other than magical. Because of you, I'll always cheer for the Detroit Pistons and consider a Ford to be the best made car (even if I was the first in the family to buy a non-Ford...). And I will always want whipped cream on my hot chocolate.
Because of you, I learned how to greet the world with a smile on my face, every single day. Because of you, I learned how to let them see the light in my eyes, even when times were hard. Because of you, I learned to be nice to everyone....neighbors, clerks, waitresses, people who were mean to you....and to try to send them on their way with a laugh and a smile on their face. Because of you, I learned the truest compassion and empathy and how to feel for others.....even to the tune of not sleeping when someone else is in pain. Because of you, I learned to treat others with a quiet dignity and respect, and to expect nothing less in return. And I conduct myself accordingly, every day.
Because of you, I persevered. Because of you, I succeeded when others said I wouldn't. Because of you, I never lost faith, even when the times got hard. Because of you, I never feel lonely. Because of you, I know how it's the little things that really matter in making life wonderful. Because of you, I am a simple, happy, easy-to-please soul. Because of you, I knew what true love looks like between a husband and wife. Because of you, I know I've found a man who will love me just the way you adored Grandma every day (even when she was being ornery). And I have no fear for Grandma, because I know when the time is right, you'll be waiting to take her hand and welcome her home.
Because of you, I've learned how to die with unbelievable, incredible dignity and grace. Because of you, I know how to let go, even when I really don't want to, for the sake of others. Because of you, I believe, no, I know that the truest love survives even death. Because of you, I know I am never without my guardian angel. I miss you, every day.
Life without you here just isn't quite the same. I'm so relieved you missed the days of the worst hearing loss (your heart would've been shattered), but my biggest regret is that Joe will never meet you and see just why he reminds me of you in so many little ways. But the truth is, you live on, and because of you, I am a better person today.
I love you, this much.