Minutes turn to hours, counting seconds tick away. Another day tomorrow, tomorrow’s just another day. Days turn into years, and time goes by, over and over, again and again, and then, years turn into decades. Decades. -Joe Walsh

Ten years is a long time. Ten years is a short time. I remember the last time we talked like it was yesterday. I was surprised you called, you loved conversation in person, but phone calls were not your forte. We had just moved to So Cal and you were so excited for us. I know you loved the area ever since you were in the Merchant Marines stationed on Catalina. I think you saw inside me and knew I was a California girl through and through and that living in Utah had been slowly killing me. So we talked a bit and made some plans for you to come and visit. You asked to speak to Nanny to wish her a happy birthday one day early. She was the last one of us to speak to you. Did you know what was going to happen? Is that why you called? I am so glad we have that conversation to remember. So much has happened since you left. After you were first gone, if I got sad I would go into the front yard where there were three giant pine trees. When the wind blew through them, I could close my eyes and imagine I was with you at the cabin. It was very comforting. The house burned down this past October and when I went by the other day; they had cut down those trees. It nearly broke my heart.

I know you probably watch over us and have seen all the things, but I want you to know we thought of you every time something big happened. Nanny got married at the cabin in the gazebo you and your son built. Remember the beautiful rocking chair you so lovingly made for me when I was pregnant with Nanny? Well now she rocks her two beautiful babies in it. When they are a little older I will tell them all about you so when they rock in it they will understand the love that went into it.

MacDougal is going to be a father. It is an amazing thought. One that brought you to my mind again. I see you sitting at the table with the little MacD, both your faces so intent. You were so creative and artistic and you passed that gift to all my kids. I recall how proud you were when Nanny gave you that painting she had done for you. I do wish you’d had more time with Bear. She took your passing so hard. I didn’t notice it, the school did. They put her in a special grief group with other second and third graders who had lost someone. But she was so young and kids heal so fast, now she hardly remembers much about you. That nearly breaks my heart.

The last few years we haven’t been to the cabin as much. Life just gets in the way. As soon as we get there the first thing my husband does is ask Gram if you made him a list of things that need to be done. She always has a list, just like you did. He loved helping you out that way. He admired you and lived for the praise you would heap on him when he built something or fixed something. You set an excellent example of grandfatherhood and he learned his lessons well. Every night at 5:00, Granma makes herself an Old Fashioned, walks over to your box and toasts you with “God love ya Ralph.” It is so sweet. The love you shared together goes on forever. Growing up watching you two is gift that helps me achieve that level of commitment and love in my marriage.

You lived a long and full life. Your strength, compassion and love helped us all. Five kids, ten grandkids and three great-grandchildren admired you. And now the one new great-grandchild, the two new great-great-grandchildren (and third on its way) are being taught by us about your life, love and strength. It is a powerful story that I love to share. Thanks for everything. I miss you.

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