Thursday night, the 21st, my Grandpa passed away. He lived to be 95 years old. He would have turned 96 on June 17th. We can't believe he lived this long. He's cheated death at least half a dozen times in his life, hunting in Alaska, during WWII as a pilot, and numerous health problems that have plagued him over the last decade. His story is a great one and my sister is writing a book about it. I can't wait to see the finished product.
Well, here's what I love and remember about my Grandpa. The story that has stuck with me my whole life is when he was born. His mother, Lily, was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant with him. Many doctors told her she should abort the baby, but she would not. Finally she found a doctor that would work with her and she carried that baby to full term. Story has it that the same day he was born, a colt on the farm was also delivered, so they used the milk from the mare to nourish baby Paul. Lily lived only 10 months after Paul was born. She literally gave her life so that he could live. Grandpa never forgot his mother and always lived in memory of her.
My own memories of Grandpa are when I was young. He's the first one who took me fishing when I was only about 5 years old. He and Grandma had built a cabin in Pine Valley, Utah. We went there almost every summer of my youth. It had a nice lake and streams nearby so he took me and a couple of my brothers with him to fish in the stream. We built our own poles and Grandpa supplied the hooks. I actually caught one! It was a tiny little 5 inch trout and I was sad to throw it back in the stream. I wanted to keep it for a pet. Also when we were in Pine Valley, Grandpa would take us horseback riding. I always loved horses and knew that if I asked him at the right time, he would take us for sure.
I remember visiting Grandma and Grandpa in their condo by the temple. It had to be nice to walk out your front door and have a beautiful view of our temple everyday. I got to spend the night there once. It was over New Year's. My cousin Lindsay and I got to stay with them and sleep on the pull out sofa bed. I remember seeing the fireworks on the TV and then falling asleep.
In 1997, my Grandma and Grandpa Vance moved into the apartment on the side of my parent's house after my dad's parents had passed away. This is when I really got to know Grandpa's "free spirit" as Grandma would call it. Grandpa was very good at giving massages. Whether it was for your feet, your head, or a full body, he could do it all and everyone appreciated it. He would go for a walk in the afternoon and not come back until after supper sometimes because he had been giving a neighbor a massage. Grandma didn't like it, but that's just the way Grandpa was. He lived his life in such a way that it seemed easy to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
I loved the night that my husband came home with his own memorable experience with Grandpa. They had just finished a night watching the Priesthood session together and had gone out to eat after. Mike told me the conversation was about how wives will put a folded blanket at the end of the bed and don't want it moved. They could figure out why we do that. That's when Grandpa called them all quote "Pantywaists", and basically told them to suck it up. It's just another example to me that he never got angry when he would reprimand anyone and he had a great sense of humor when he wanted to. In fact, I've never saw him angry.
He's always had the most beautiful smile and the best full head of white hair I've ever seen. I love my Grandpa and I will miss him. He couldn't have picked a better time to pass away than Easter. When I think of the Savior this season and how grateful I am for His sacrifice for us so that we can be resurrected and live with Him again someday, thoughts of my Grandpa won't be far behind. I couldn't help but think of the wonderful reunion my Grandpa had Thursday night with his angel mother. He had to wait 95 years to see her again. I love you Grandpa and I can't wait to see you again too. What a day that would be.