Happy Birthday Papa

Today, August 31st, is my grandfather’s birthday.  We lost him a few years back now and things have never quite been the same, but on days like today, it’s good for me to sit, and with tears in my eyes, remember a man that always seemed to humbly know the right advice to give.  He was intelligent and kind, but never boastful.  He was always firm and encouraging but never spiteful.   He was my Papa.

Our relationship was a special one.  He was my papa and no one could ever eclipse that place in my life.  When I didn’t have a father, he was that for me, long after having to raise his own kids.  He showed me that a real man is gracious, kind, courageous, intelligent and most of all protective of his family.  He loved us proudly and always beamed when we achieved.  Sure he kicked us in the ass when we screwed up, but he didn’t just yell, he would offer you the advice to get you out of it as well.

He and my grandmother were an improbable match to me, they always seemed at odds in both temperment and personality, but after he left us I saw that even my grandmother, the toughest woman to walk the face of the earth in our eyes, leaned on him for strength and love.  He loved her too, and in his quiet way always managed to show it.

 The thing in my life that makes me the saddest when i think about my grandfather, isn’t that I’ll never get to talk music with him again, or that I will never get to ask him for advice, or even work on the odd project that he would have for me over the years (the projects that would teach me more than I ever imagined).  No doubt these are all things that I have lost and will never get back, but the thing that makes me mourn the most, is that my future family will never get to meet the man that elevated my life in such a way.   And though they will never actually meet him face to face, at least in this life, they will know him through the best parts of me.  When I teach the children I may or may not have to read, it will be from the same books he taught me to read from when i was so very small.  When I am able to give wise and humble advice, it will be his example they will be getting.  When my family sees the pride and strength with which I venerate them, it will be his strength and love that I am simply passing on.

He gave me the tools to be a man long before I ever knew what that looked like.  I have realized that this past year away from home, and will never be able to repay the amazing gifts he has given me, and continues to give me even after he is gone.

Thank you pops.  Thank you for the laughter.  Thank you for the smiles.  Thank you for the conversations.  Thank you for the education.  Thank you for your life, and thank you for your love.  But most of all, thank you for my character.


Joyce Wensel


My Papa