Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Colorado High

It was about eight years ago that the doctors called in hospice and told my Grandpa (Papa) to get his affairs in order.  It was a scary, sad time-- the usual laughter and joking of their house in Colorado became tearful, somber, and reflective.  The family came and said good-bye.  We cried and grieved.  Then... he rallied.  In fact, he recovered.  He sent out "I got well" cards.   He started going back out to the ranch, even rode in a few rodeos.  It. Is. Incredible.  Then, he restored a truck.  (Don't tell his fancy doctors that he holds his oxygen to the side while he welds!)  My Papa is so full of determination and courage, laughter and joy that I named my second born after him.  There is something about being so sternly reminded that his days are numbered that makes me pause to enjoy time with my Papa that much more. And I want my kids to know him and my Mimi and their amazing spirit.  So, this last weekend my mom and I took the boys for a wonderful long weekend.

The trip out there took 10 hours on Friday.  On Saturday, after nap time, I moved Dekker's car seat and Papa drove us out to the ranch.  Papa asked Dekker if he had a cowboy hat, and Dekker replied, "No, I have a cowboy hood."  That boy is precious.  

When we got there we drove straight into the field of cows.  There were several calves and they were eating from their moms.  Dekker figured out how to roll his window down, and spent lots of time inviting the cows to his window.  "Here cow, come here cow" (in his best "talking to Tucker" voice).  It was so fun to be so near something he had only read about in a book!  

My Papa is a National Champion horse-cutter.  This is a rodeo event.  He started when he RETIRED from ranching, and often beat men half his age.  When his COPD progressed, he rigged up a holster to his saddle to hold his oxygen and cut while wearing oxygen.  His Pulmonary Doctor has a picture of him doing just that in his office.  Can you tell I'm proud of him?  He is amazing.  His cutting horse, Mikey, is still at the ranch.  Papa taught Dekker how to feed him "horse candy" right out of his hand.  Dekker was memorized!  "A horse, Mom.  Look! A horse!  Oh Wow, Mom!"

Then we got back in the truck and found Papa's two other horses.  Papa told Dekker how to hold hay and feed them out of his hand, too.  They eventually warmed up to us, and Dekker loved feeding them.  Again, it was awesome to see the light in Dekker's mind "click"-- I felt like his eyes were saying... "oookkkaayyy, so this is a horse."

Then, as if the day couldn't get any better, Papa parked the truck and announced that we were going on a tractor ride.  Dekker could barely contain himself.  Here is the tractor:

See that door hanging open?  See that ladder?  That is where I "rode" for the tractor ride... praying to God that the huge tire wouldn't run me over and that my scarf wouldn't accidentally get stuck in something where I would traumatically be squashed while my son watched!  (My anxiety never takes a vacation.)  Papa started up the tractor and Dekker was initially a little scared from the noise, but he settled right in and got very comfy.  Papa even let him drive.  My heart overflows!

Nothing like taking a potty training toddler out to the ranch.  Sometimes "nature calls" even out in the nature.  Thank goodness the house out there has a wonderfully working potty! 
The rest of the weekend was just a wonderful.  We relaxed, watched TV, jumped on the trampoline.  I got to spend some time visiting with my Grandma, Mimi.  She is just as incredible as my Papa, and I have learned so much from her-- she knows not a stranger, there is always room for one more at her dinner table, she is caring and generous. My mom got up with Tucker (at 5:30AM thanks to Mountain Time) and I slept in.  We ate yummy food, saw some of my cousins and uncle on my dad's side, and I even had a few hours to read.  I finally  picked up "The Help".  Here are a few more pics before I run upstairs and make sure both boys are breathing.  They have been quiet too long!

I'm sure this was a pic I sent to Dave.  He is getting so big, so cute, so fun!
This is how they go to church when they have company and I love it!
Getting to be such a good sleeper!

"Mom, see me!  Look, Mom!"
Reading night time books with my amazing Grandma, Mimi.

Finally, here is one last picture of sweet Tucker James and Papa James.  I can't wait to visit this summer-- to visit the ranch again and even ride horses-- and for Mimi and Papa to get to see the kids again.  They will have changed so much!

On the Journey,


  1. Great pics, looks like a super fun trip!

  2. oh my, cried tears (good ones ;)
    Love ya

  3. What a delight, I cried too (yes I do cry). Thanks for sharing! Stef, you have a great ability to share with words. Some of us would rather grunt.