This is a strange post, and I’m a little bit sorry to post it here, but to be honest I need to put it somewhere. This will be a little out of the ordinary, that’s my disclaimer.
He passed away ten years ago today, and I still don’t know how to describe him. He wasn’t my grandfather- he was much closer than that. He wasn’t my father- I have him too, but he may as well have been. He was silly and funny and happy and joyful. He was my best friend for those precious years when I needed a hero. And he was strong. God, he was strong.
I don’t need to go into details of early life to for you to understand that it takes a village to raise a child, and my village included JD Richardson (not related in any way to me or my husband, which is weird beyond words and I know that). But he cared for me and loved me and spoiled me rotten. He always loved to tell me that my favorite thing to say when I was three was “I’m my papa J’s precious angel”.
He was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was 12, and I remember how strange it was to see him in a hospital bed. The man who once nearly cut his leg off with a chainsaw and had cauterized it with turpentine couldn’t be bed-ridden with cancer. Nothing could do that to him. It didn’t hold him down for long. Within days he was hunting, fishing, and working on a ranch. You could see him slow down, see his hands falter now and then, but beyond anything you could see strength.
The last days were the worst. He slept a lot, he tried to shoot himself, he cried when we took away his gun. But then he would talk, and in his voice there was strength and in his eyes there was a smile. In true JD fashion, his last words were, “the vultures are circling”.
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years, and somehow it gets harder each year. 17 year old me didn’t know how to grieve well, and I think it was hard to explain to anyone how it felt. But now I think of all of things he has missed, and how much he would have loved to see them.
I often admired the person he was, and I always knew that I wanted to marry someone he would have loved. I don’t often feel sure of myself or the choices I make, but I am sure of one thing; he would be proud if he saw me right now.
He would adore Tyler, and maybe Siyeh just as much. He would be tickled to know that I somehow ended up with his last name. He would be green with envy that we live on a farm in Norway, if he somehow didn’t manage to come as a stowaway.
Those are among the few things in life of which I’m sure.
Thank you Papa, I miss you.