If someone had told me that in your four short years of life you would experience the death of two of your grandparents, I would have thought it inconceivable. In your own little way, I think you understand what has happened. When I told you that Papa Barnes went to heaven to be with Grammy, you gasped, said "he died?" and then started crying. It just about broke Daddy and I's hearts. We think Papa had a special place in your heart.
In order that you can always remember all the good things about your Papa Barnes, I am writing you this letter.
He was a man who had a goal, worked to obtain that goal, and then lived his life enjoying it. When your dad was just 2 years old, your Papa Barnes-a regular city guy-decided he wanted a farm. He left D.C. and bought his 100+ acre farm in Bennington, NY. Your dad and I hope what you can learn from this is that it pays to have goals, and work towards achieving them. We hope that you will always look to Papa Barnes as an inspiration for pursuing your future dreams.
Papa loved his farm. Your dad learned so many lessons as a result of growing up there. Some of them in spite of how Papa did things, but most of them because of what Papa did. There is no doubt that your dad learned his hard work ethic from growing up on the farm and seeing everything that Papa did. We hope this work ethic will be passed on to you, as it would be a great tribute to Papa and the example he provided.
Your Papa Barnes had his own unique way of loving. Do you remember playing that triangle peg board game with Papa at Grandma Moorleghen's last summer? Or when you and Papa played "buzzz...buzzz.." on our couch during his visit a few months ago? You and he laughed uncontrollably for a good 10 to 15 minutes. Papa was a teacher through and through, and loved to see his kids and grandkids learn (especially in sports). He took pride in seeing people in his family achieve. When you first started crawling, he was at our house visiting---he thought he had taught you how to crawl, as he had been working with you on it the entire visit! He was so proud!
Something else he took pride in was people enjoying his farm. Like when you would go riding on the golf cart or four wheeler, taking in the beauty of what he had created. Or when he took you out to the barn to see his cows and barn cats. What about this past visit, when you and your cousins were on the gigantic teeter totter, that he inadvertently had created? We hope that, like Papa, when you work hard at something, you will take a moment to have pride in what you have achieved.
Did you know that Papa and your Mamaw Barnes were married almost 50 years? You weren't born yet when they renewed their vows at 45 years, but it was a joyous occasion. Your Papa remained a loyal, committed, loving husband to Mamaw over all these years. Your dad and I can only pray that our marriage will last this long, and that someday you will enjoy the privledge of such a lengthy marriage.
It is true: your Papa loved his politics and Fox News. You endured many animated debates with the family about various heated topics. Even though we didn't all, always agree, there is something very important for you to learn from this. Papa was true to his convictions and principals. He lived according to them. He wasn't scared to express them. Your dad is the same way, surely learning it from Papa over the years. We hope that you will always be guided by your principals, and live according to them.
Another thing Papa love: music. This is something you and he already have in common. Do you remember when he and Mamaw danced in our kitchen in April? I can't remember what song was playing, but if I had to guess, it was something by George Strait. It was always wonderful to watch him and Mamaw dance... something they loved to do. Papa didn't have time for current, popular music, and was sure to let anyone who would listen know this. He would be happy to see you develop your musical interests, as long as it was the classics or country!
I am sure that as time goes on, you will hear and learn more about Papa from your dad and I. He was a good, honest, hard working and principled, husband, father and man. Most who knew him liked him and felt drawn to him. He was funny. He told good stories. He was always a fighter, never a victim-- all the way to the time of his death.
We are sad you won't be able to experience first hand all these attributes of your Papa as you continue to grow up. But rest assured, your dad is a good representation of who Papa was.
By knowing your dad, you will know your Papa.