Posted by: kzaitzruns | October 30, 2011


I wanted to write this post two weeks ago but now will have to do.  The 17th of October marked the seven year anniversary of my grandfather’s death.  It’s always an emotional time of year for me, as he was a very influential figure in my life for 23 years.

My Papa (he was nicknamed Papa by us grandkids because we couldn’t say Pete like we often heard my grandma call him), was an incredible man.  October 17th, 2004 was one of the hardest days of my life.  Papa, was the father figure in my life for 23 years.  I spent many hours with my Baba and Papa, running errands, feeding their animals, eating their wonderful home-cooked meals, and just being loved by two wonderful people.  I have been very blessed to have many people in my life throughout my 30 years on earth who have nurtured and loved me for who I am.  Papa, was one of those people.  Losing him felt like I lost a bit of myself but I have faith that he looks down upon me and my family and he is with me every race.   Two weeks ago I couldnt’ figure out why I was in a “funk”, but then it dawned on me,  every year around this time I get a bit sad.  I think of the wonderful man that is no longer in my life.  I think about how he never got to walk me down the aisle like I often dreamed, I think about how he never got to meet my husband and most importantly, how my husband never got to meet him.  My life was better in so many ways because I was blessed with such loving and giving grandparents.  I am very thankful that they wanted to play such a huge role in our lives and that my mother encouraged us to spend quality time with them on a regular basis.  Some of my fondest memories come from spending time with Baba and Papa.

What does this have to do with my running career you may ask?  I’ll tell you.  Papa just wanted me to be happy.  While he never understood why I did this thing called running, he knew it made me happy.  All he wanted for me was for me to be happy.  He told me that as soon as running stopped being fun that I should quit.  I will never forget how proud he was when I showed him the first check I earned by running my first half marathon.  I can remember where he was sitting, the look on his face and the fact that he Xeroxed it in color so I could frame it.  I still have that copy somewhere in a box.  He was so proud of me, but not because I won the half marathon but because he could see how happy and how proud I was of myself.  All he ever wanted for my sister and I besides happiness, was for us to believe in ourselves, work hard at something we love, and be good people while doing that.  I believe he’d be proud if he could see where I’ve come over the last seven years.  I may not be rich but I am not poor because I have many people in my life who are very dear to me, I have found and nurtured a passion and I am very happy being ME!

It’s hard not to choke up with typing this, but it’s often tears of joy that come with thinking of him.  Yes, I’m sad I cannot physically talk to him or give him a hug.  However, feeling his presence often gives me hope and faith that I will see him again someday.  I believe this isn’t the end and that there is more to look forward to then just our time here on earth.  I have to believe that to not be afraid of loss.  Papa’s memories are always with me and since his death I’ve always run with his strength, courage and faith in mind.  He was sober about 20 years when he died and his committment to remaining sober taught me to never give up.  His sobriety has kept me going despite many injuries, setbacks, heartbreaks and people telling me “I’m not good enough”.  I will not give up because Papa never gave up.  He loved, he laughed and he lived and so as his granddaughter and biggest fan, I must carry on his legacy!


When I get where I’m going
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I’m gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly

I’m gonna land beside a lion
And run my fingers through his mane
Or I might find out what it’s like
To ride a drop of rain

I’m gonna walk with my grand daddy
And he’ll match me step for step
And I’ll tell him how I missed him
Every minute since he left
Then I’ll hug his neck

–Brad Paisley featuring Dolly Parton


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