Papa Soderberg and my younger son
When I was really little, Papa would scoop me up in his arms and say, "Hi there, Twinkletoes!"
One summer Papa took me on a date to see the Bingham Open Pit Copper Mine on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. His father had been one of the engineers, and became an expert on open pit mining. He was sharing some of his heritage with me. Then, we went to lunch at the Tiffin Room in ZCMI. It's one of my most treasured times with him, because it was just me and him.
Papa was the first person to notice I'd double pierced my ears during my semester abroad in Jerusalem. There was no hello...it was "What on earth did you do to your ears!"
Papa's most cherished place to visit was to Island Park, ID and the Yellowstone area. We had annual visits to this place as an extended family...usually falling either on his birthday or on mine. He taught me how to fly fish, how to tie a fly on my line, and the peace that comes from standing in a river.
The last time I spent time with Papa was in August just before school started. We were visiting my parents, and spent one evening at Papa's house. My children played all through the amazing two-story back yard, and Papa just grinned watching them. He was tired, but he made sure we had time to visit one on one.
The last time I saw my Papa, it took all his strength just to open his eyes and look at me. He couldn't speak because of the respirator, there were IVs and EEG leads all over, but he was still the same, strong, courageous soul he's always been. He survived through more than the doctors thought he could. I believe he did so that we could all adjust to the idea of letting him go. In the end, it was his choice to quietly slip out of this life and begin the next stage of the journey. There is a lot of power in that thought.
I am so thankful for you, Papa. What an amazing legacy of faith you have shared.