Sketch Every Day: 12.19.11

Happy Birthday, Papa!!!

My father-in-law, John, is one of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet. So many of my husband’s interests, hobbies, as well as his DIY and technical skills can be attributed to John’s influence on him over these many years. John is constantly curious and passionate about the world around him. He is a tinkerer and a creative thinker, a builder and a designer, a truly brilliant man. He is always working on something, his hands are never idle. There’s always something to be fixed, rebuilt, restored, re-purposed. And for as long as I’ve known him, he’s always been actively working on and successfully completing multiple projects (even before he retired)…his DIY repertoire could fill countless books and blog posts, believe me. I should showcase his projects on One Project A Weekend (because I certainly don’t have any content of my own for that series lately), but he’s too humble and private…not really the kind of guy who wants to be on DIY show-offs or featured or relishes drawing attention to himself. Even our home has benefited in more ways than one, thanks to John’s ability to fix, build or install just about anything. I’m constantly joking that I have an extensive “honey-do” list if he ever runs out of projects. Actually, I’m not joking…I’m hinting, big time. I know that if John gets started on a project, it will have a better chance of actually being completed!

As far as Grandpas go, he is top-notch and every kid’s ideal. Our boys absolutely adore their “Papa”. Papa is a big kid at heart. And he seems happiest when running his model trains with the boys; or taking them for a ride in his boat and going fishing; or teaching them about anything…whether it’s science or history or nature. He has a fun and lighthearted way about him that the boys respond to, but at the same time they respect and pay attention to Papa’s rules…they listen to him, they understand him, they relate to him…and he to them. It’s quite a beautiful thing to see how “the big kid” and the two “little kids” interact with each other. There’s a mutual respect and understanding that has developed between them in a relatively short time, that just can’t be duplicated in any other way. ¬†What they have is something special and I’m truly grateful for it.

Papa has always loved things that go – trains, planes, automobiles, motorcycles, boats, ships. And that love of all things mechanical and transportation-related has certainly been passed to Aaron, and now our boys. Papa has a sense of adventure and enthusiasm about life that is infectious. Thanks to Papa, I’ve been sailing, water skiing, wake-boarding, snow-skiing, kayaking, rode countless trains, flown in an ultra-lite airplane and a DC-10, gone trap-shooting, had fun at air shows and train shows and car shows, seen some remarkable historical sites and museums, hiked waterfalls and volcanoes, listened to great live music, eaten the most AMAZING meals of my life (most of them prepared by Papa, a.k.a Chef Milani, & Nana)….the list goes on. So many of the wonderful experiences I’ve had in the last (almost) 20 years since Aaron and I have been together, have something to do with John’s influence, his introduction, his willingness and generosity to share the things he loves with the group of people he loves. I feel very fortunate that my boys and I are included in that group. Thank you, Papa, for all that you do and for including us in your awesome way of life. We love you!