From Rachel Saldana
He always wore a feather in his Stetson. It was an ostrich feather I had found for him, and he kept it neatly tucked inside the band of that Stetson. My Papa was a dapper cowboy, starched wranglers, pearl snap western shirts, silver and turquoise belt buckle, and ostrich skin boots. He never treated me like a delicate little girl, pretty much letting me try my hand at whatever struck my fancy, be it learning to drive the tractor or trying to dig post holes for the fence. At 13 he let me drive the old green Chevy pickup the five miles into town, and even when it died while still zooming down the back road he just said "oh, it always does that. Just start'er up again."
My Papa was the man who showed me what it meant to be a good husband and caring father. Always patient, he would take my grandmother antiquing, never saying a negative word about it. He was appreciative and helpful, not one to sit around when there was work to be done. I started dating my husband in February 1995 when were seventeen years old. My Papa passed away that May, only a few weeks before my high school graduation. He never met my husband, which I have always thought was a shame, because it turns out they are really so much alike.
I have been extremely fortunate, because I grew up knowing all four of my grandparents. My grandmothers are both still living and have relationships now with my children, and we are still very close. But my Papa was always my favorite and it wasn't exactly a secret. I was the apple of his eye and he was, well, my Papa.