Friday was my Papa's birthday. I have had him on my mind A LOT the past few days. I can not even begin to express how much I love this man. I love his little round belly (which is shrinking every time I see him) that I get to press my stomach on every time I hug him. I love his kisses every time he sees me. I love his beautiful wavy white hair. I love how intelligent he is. I love how you can look at him and SEE the love in his eyes for his grand kids and great grand kids. I love that he likes to be involved in our lives. I love that he includes me in his e-mails (some days they are just what I need to pick myself up). I love that he is not quick to judge someone, but is dimensional enough to look past things to see deeper things that others miss. I love that he is ALWAYS right, or at least thinks he is (I so got it from him). I love how you can feel his pride in you when he looks at you.
I have been very fortunate to have my Papa so present in my life. My childhood memories definitely include my Papa. I loved going to his house and getting a frozen Hershey's bar with almonds (the only candy bar that I will eat to this day, and for some reason LOVE even though I do not like chocolate). I fondly remember going to the farm with him and running around while he worked with the cows and horses ( I loved to run off to the duck pond). I remember his smell of dirt, sweat, and animals when he would kiss me goodbye when we left the farm. I also remember smelling his cowboy hats in his garage when I was little, just to have a whiff of Papa (disturbing huh). I remember going to try to cheer him up when one of his favorite horses died, and feeling special because I knew only we could make him feel better. I remember getting in trouble for taking off all of the stickers of his rubik's cube so that I could show him I beat it, how did he know! I remember a time when I felt totally lost and unsupported by any other member of my family, and my Papa stepping up to tell me it would all be OK, and that he would personally support me in any decision I made, and at that point knowing that I was unconditionally loved and would never be alone. I remember him walking me down the isle on my wedding day, and getting nervous about the decision I was making for the 1st time. He then told me about his own wedding day and how my Nanny had locked herself in a room and would not come out until they took the hinges off of the door. It immediately calmed me down and I was ready to go.
The times I was able to spend with my grandparent while my parents were on their mission will always be a treasure to me. The fact that I was able to hog them for my family is selfish, I know, but it is one of the best memories I will ever have. My husband loves and respects my grandparents as if they were his own. My children think of them as grandparents, not as great grandparents.
My Papa is a person with a rich history. I love to pick his brain and hear his stories. Every time I do I learn something new about him. He has had a full life. He has the drive of a 25 year old right out of school. No one would ever believe that this year he turned 84. He makes our lives now look like a cake walk. He has always shown me the importance of being involved in family, church and community. Because of his example I feel so strongly that my family needs to be involved in our community, and try to keep us involved in community projects. I see a lot of myself in him. Sometimes they are not the best traits (ones we like to refer to as Webb traits, but are always told by Papa that the Webb's were kind people who never spoke a harsh word, but are in fact Layton traits), but knowing that I share these traits with someone so wonderful makes me know I can have good qualities, too.
I love my Papa. I don't know how many more Birthdays we will be able to share with him, if I had my pick it would be 84 more. I can not even bring myself to think for a minute of a world without him in it. It will be a very sad day for me when his body can no longer keep up with his spirit, and he leaves it behind. I celebrate every year that we have him here to love, learn from, and enjoy. I have been so blessed to have such a wonderful man in my life, and to know of his love for me. I am so glad that my kids have such a wonderful relationship with him. I am blessed to be part of his posterity. Words could never adiquatly express my love for my Papa. It will just have to be enough to say "Papa, I Love You!" Happy Birthday!