When Leroy and I were dating, I used the term "Papa John" when referring to his father. (The Papa part was to differentiate between Leroy's father and his brother John.) I didn't think much of it until Sierra began to talk and started calling him "Papa" as well. The term has stuck. I know it is not the traditional name for Grandfather, but it certainly is a term of endearment. Our children are the only ones who refer to him as Papa. For me... it's a logical name. He has been much more than a traditional father in law to me. In all ways he has been a father as well.
I have tremendous respect for this man. He has accomplished so much in his lifetime. His work ethic and strength of character is incomparable. He has firm convictions and you always know where you stand with him, whether you agree with him or not. He is intelligent and insightful and yet humble. But the thing that sets him apart is the tremendous love he has for his family. There isn't anything this man would not do for the benefit of his family and in my opinion, that's the mark of a real man.
Our relationship did not start off on the best of terms, but he has always been kind and respectful towards me... and from the moment of our marriage and my official position in the family he has treated me as a daughter. While I didn't come into the family the way he had hoped, he made the best of the situation and welcomed me immediately and without hesitation. My own father suffered from a stroke in 1986 and in many ways was never the same again. My father in law knew that I missed that relationship and he stepped in to fill the role. I don't know if this was a conscious decision on his part, I tend to think it's just in his character. He knew I needed a dad and he was there because I was family now, and there isn't anything he wouldn't do for us. NOW... I have to admit... I think I'm his favorite. At least I tell everyone I am. He makes me think I am.
Today is his 69th birthday and with this blog I will offer him the only gift I know he desires. I offer the love and respect of the family he is the head of and ask God's continued blessing upon him and those he loves and cherishes... and fortunate for me... I'm know I'm on that list.