Today is my Papa Jim’s birthday. He would have been 93 years old today. I miss him. I miss his quiet, patient way. I miss his smiles. I miss his hugs. I miss his laugh. I miss sharing stories with him and having him try my latest recipe creation. I miss him every day.

Papa taught me so much about life and how to live my life. Growing up, many of those lessons came while we were in the car. On road trips or even on a trip across town, he never missed a teachable moment. He taught my brothers and I all how to drive (see, patience of a saint I tell you!) but even before that, he would teach us rules of the road. I remember the first time I learned why sometimes the line is solid yellow and sometimes why it is not. Papa just never missed an opportunity.

He also loved maps. He showed me that maps don’t just have to be used to see where you are going, but also where you have been. Papa knew the back roads and scenic drives more than anyone I know. And the coolest thing ever? He left a memory of every back road and highway he drove on. I am lucky enough to have that now…his atlas.

Papa's Atlas

He highlighted every road he drove on. As I paged through it then, and page through it now, I am fascinated. The maps of his two favorite states are clearly loved.

Papa's Atlas
Papa's Atlas

I love this atlas. I love looking at the roads he has been on and the ones I know I drove with him. What an amazing history. What an amazing story. What an amazing man. I miss you Papa. We will continue the adventure.




  1. Al says

    I am with you Jess! I was also in the car for many of those roads and teachable moments. I just hope I can leave a legacy like his. Now you know why I love my GPS the way I do – it all comes from map reading. Knowing where you are, where your going and yes, where you have come from.

    And BTW, I went to see PAPA at the grave site today, wished him happy birthday from all of us. I know he isn’t there, but it helps to focus the memories and to remember where I have come from.

    • says

      I love you dad. I see so much of Papa in you and am so grateful that you are my dad. You have taught the boys and I more than I could ever write down. Thank you for visiting him today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *