Dear Papa,

My favorite memory of you is one that I can barely remember because I was so young. But I remember riding on your four-wheeler, holding on to the gas cap as hard as possible, and screaming every time I saw the speedometer go over 25mph. I remember just hearing your sweet laugh and slowing down just to speed it up again so I would keep screaming. You fueled my love for the mountains and the outdoors. I thank you for this.

I had my first love, who broke my heart into a million different pieces. I was so hurt, devastated and my self-esteem broke along with it. We were walking on the way back from your shop, under the canopy of grapes you planted. You asked me how I was doing. I lied I was doing fine. And said that I know I deserve better than a boy who cheats on me with my best friend. You looked into my eyes like you always did.

I stared back into your beautiful blue eyes and you told me that you never really thought he was good enough for me, and you said you did not like him very much because I deserved the world and he never gave me that. You also told me something I will never forget. You said, "ordinary men cannot handle extraordinary women and you are an extraordinary woman." You told me to never forget this. You raised my confidence and it meant so much to me. That heartbreak wasn't the last, but I always try to remember those words and it helps me get through it. I thank you for this.

I remember when you offered to let me learn how to drive in your truck. I hope you knew how much of an honor that was to me. I knew how much you loved your cars because you helped fuel my love for cars. We had to go to Walmart. And we were driving on the highway for quite some time when I looked over and realized you were sound asleep. We had driven forty minutes out of the way. You just laughed and instructed me on how to get to Walmart. You complimented me on how calm and relaxing I drove. You gave me the confidence to start driving, although back then I hated it. I thank you for this.

One day we were sitting, eating breakfast around that giant table you bought in the cabin. I reached out and held your hand before we said a prayer. You looked down and said, "you have beautiful hands, they remind me of my mothers'." I didn't let you see but I started crying because I always thought my hands were stubby and man-like. But you made me feel like they were the most beautiful thing about me. I thank you for this.

Papa when you were diagnosed with ALS I was stunned. I didn't know what it meant, although I had heard about it before. When everyone started telling me what the months and years ahead for you were like, I wanted to take it all away. I didn't want you to have to go through that. You are and were the best man I have ever known. I remember praying with our family, ugly crying for what felt like forever. When you came and hugged me, and you told me "It's all going to be okay sweetheart". When you would call me sweetheart, I knew that was my cue that you needed me to be strong. You only used that when the situation was grave, and it gave me all the strength I needed. I loved our lunches and little grandfather-grandaughter dates we would go on.

When I learned how to stick the needle in your chest in case of emergencies, your strength is what got me through it. That morning that my dad came up into my room and told me you had passed, I couldn't believe it. I promise I will take care of grandma, and try to be the woman you have raised me to be. Thank you for all of the memories and lessons. All of the laughter and amazing stories. Thank you for showing me what a full life actually consists of. I will see you again. I love you.

Your sweetheart,

Kenz