Monday, June 8, 2015

"Super Tough" and other Memories of my Dad as a Grandpa

This is the final installment in my blog series about my dad.  (Part one here, if you'd like to go back to the beginning.)  Today I will be writing about how he is the cutest grandpa ever.  It’s no surprise that the silliness and humor that came out when his daughters were young has come back to life full force with his grandchildren.  He is the most loving, fun Bapa, and our kids adore him.

Before I begin, I did want to add that my father is not perfect.  He insists that these blog posts have made him sound better than he is, but I am not embellishing these memories—they are true moments from my life, and I think they speak for themselves.  His one tragic flaw, however, (his greatest strength and his greatest weakness) is that he is an obsessive worker.  He cannot help but give 1000% to whatever task he is doing, and there have been times when I know he feels like he missed out or wasn’t as present for us as he could have been because he works so much.  I am very much my father’s daughter in this way, and I constantly try to temper my compulsion to get stuff done and be productive.  When I ask my dad for advice on how to do this, he always says, “Don’t ask me!  I still haven’t figured that out!”

A few years ago, after a day of the family doing yard work and projects around the house, my dad insisted that we carry boxes downstairs from the garage at 11 pm (he just wanted the jobs totally done and didn't want to stop).  We were all so exhausted that Sarah and I got in a huge blow-up fight, probably the worst fight we’ve ever had.  My dad felt terrible because he knew he had pushed us too hard and he should’ve just let us all stop working and go to bed!  Hahaha!  I had to include that memory to balance out all of the glowing ones!

So even though he isn't perfect, I'd say he is a nearly perfect father.  And I am very aware of how richly blessed I am.  My heart aches for those who have grown up in less than ideal circumstances, and I hope that sharing these memories of my father hasn't brought pain to anyone else who was not similarly blessed.

Regardless of our upbringings, I believe that we can all choose to be loving parents--and hearing about those that do the job so well always lifts and inspires me, gives me ideas of ways that I can improve, gives me hope to keep striving.  So hopefully this little snapshot of my dad has done that for some of you.  I know it has for me!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read these memories.  They are precious to me, and sharing them is an honor.


My dad became a grandpa when Sarah’s son, Callum, was born on March 7, 2009.  Sarah lived in Missouri at the time, and my dad didn’t plan to go out there until about a week later because her mother-in-law was there to help.  Well the minute he laid eyes on his first little grandbaby in a grainy photo via a text message, he got online and booked a flight for that afternoon.  He didn’t tell Sarah, so when he showed up in her hospital room that evening, she was stunned.  So fun!  Grandpa couldn’t stay away!

He just stayed overnight and then headed home, but he was back a couple of weeks later to help the new mom and the new baby.  He did plenty of cleaning, rocking the baby, and even some cooking—but of course, being Michael Westover, he had to squeeze in some work as well. 

When Cal was learning to talk, he started calling my dad “Bapa” because he couldn’t say “Grandpa.”  “Bapa” has stuck, and my dad will forever more be known to all of his grandkids by this name.

Bapa has been there within days of each of his grandbabies’ births.  He flew to Utah to meet Noah when we were waiting for his adoption clearance, he met Jade in the hospital within hours of her birth, he flew to San Diego to help with Luke when he was just weeks old, and he came to Twin Falls to help me right after Baby Sally was born. 

The birth of babies is a time when we miss our mom even more acutely, and having such a supportive dad really helps ease that pain.  He has always been a really “hands-on” grandpa and is totally willing to hold babies, soothe them when they are fussy, and change diapers.  I trust him with my babies just as much as I trust my sisters or my mother-in-law, which is pretty awesome.

When I was pregnant with Sally and so sick, my dad came to Twin Falls for a visit and totally saved the day.  He took Noah on outings in the morning so I could sleep in (more on that in a minute), he read him bedtime stories, he helped me organize the nursery and installed shelves in Noah’s room, he insisted on taking me shopping for baby girl clothes, and he even made a couple of freezer meals with me.  He does an amazing job as Mr. Mom, and I was truly depressed when he went home.  As hard as it is to live away from my family, I love how special it is when my dad visits us--we get his undivided attention for a long weekend, and it rocks.  When we lived in Denver, I feel like we sometimes took each other for granted because we saw each other often.  It is so fun to have him visit us here, away from his clients and the office, just relaxing and focusing on family.  It's the best.

After I had Sally, I really struggled with post-partum anxiety, and Dad was there to help then as well.  His primary responsibility was Noah, and they had a blast together.  They would go for morning walks to visit the haybales at the end of our street, and they played Marble Works together and had lots of adventures.  He also made sure Noah got the naps and rest that he needed because my dad is completely unfazed by Noah’s protests and tantrums when he doesn't want to do something.  I love how matter-of-fact he is when Noah is freaking out.  He just says, “Oh, I’m so sorry; life is hard,” and keeps right on doing what he knows is best for Noah.  I want to be a more even-tempered parent like my dad, as I tend to feel flustered, angry, or guilty when Noah is throwing a fit.

Noah and my dad truly have a special relationship, and I think much of that goes back to the fun traditions they've formed since Noah was a toddler.  When we lived in Denver and my dad would babysit Noah, he would sometimes take him to get “cancakes” (as Noah called them). They would go on a date to IHop and scarf down the pancakes.  This tradition continues, and any time that my dad is in Idaho, he and Noah go on a one-on-one breakfast date for pancakes, usually to McDonalds so they can also play on the PlayPlace.  Classy. ;)

During one of my dad’s first trips to Twin Falls, before he had discovered our stellar McDonalds, he took Noah out in the morning without any idea of where they could find pancakes.  He didn’t know the restaurants in the area or anything, so as they drove, my dad made up a silly game where they started asking all the buildings that they saw if they had pancakes: “Hey gas station, do you have any pancakes?”  “Hey bank, do you have pancakes?” “Hey traffic light, do you have any pancakes?”  Noah still thinks this is the most hilarious game ever and laughs uproariously every time he talks about it.  He also cannot let it die and sometimes shouts at buildings for a good fifteen minutes asking them all if they have pancakes.  (Thanks a lot, Dad!)

Another tradition that they started when we lived in Denver was to go “running” together.  When Noah was about 20 months old, my dad would come to our apartment to babysit, and they would jog a lap around the duck pond in the complex.  Now when Bapa comes to Twin Falls, they often go for a run together—with Noah starting out on foot and then ending up in the jogging stroller, jabbering all the way.  My dad said the last time they ran together, Noah didn’t stop talking for even five seconds of the 45-minute run.  Hahaha—sounds like my Noah!

My Dad finds Noah endlessly amusing, and he teases Noah about how dramatic and whiny he can be.  When my dad was here in February, he heard Noah complaining about something ridiculous, and he said, “Hey, we don’t whine about silly things—we are Super Tough!”  He says it in this really manly voice and puffs out his chest and gives Noah a fist-bump as he says it.  I totally endorse this “Super Tough” idea because it sometimes makes Noah think twice before letting out a wail.  I recently overheard him telling one of his little pals, “My Bapa and I are Super Tough!  We don’t whine about anything!”

When we were in Denver recently and Noah was driving with my dad at night, Noah started whining about being afraid of the dark.  My dad said, “We’re Super Tough, so we aren’t afraid of the dark!  We laugh in the face of darkness…Ba-Ha-Ha!” and let out a vampire laugh.  Well of course Noah thought it was the greatest thing ever, and this is another little saying that is hard to “turn off” once he gets going.  I sometimes have to listen to “I laugh in the face of darkness…Ba-ha-ha-ha!” over and over and over.

My dad’s silliness doesn’t end with Noah, of course.  He plays games with all of his grandkids.  Sarah’s family lives with him right now, so I’m sure he has all sorts of traditions with her kiddos.  One that I have witnessed firsthand is a game that started when Callum was about three called “Eyeball.”  Callum had gotten a bouncy ball for Halloween that looked like an eyeball, and my dad and Cal would bounce it like crazy around the house and race each other to find it.  All of these years later, they have somehow kept track of that ball, and they still play “Eyeball” on occasion.

Bapa’s special tradition with Jade is a game called “Kissing Time.”  When he gets home from work, he shouts, “What time is it?” and Jade starts giggling wildly and running away shouting, “Kissing time!!!”  My dad chases her around the house and then grabs her and smothers her with kisses.  Cutest thing ever.

Just as he had crazy nicknames for us when we were younger, he has plenty of nicknames for his grandkids.  Callum is “Buddy Man,” Noah is “Mr. Big,” Jade is “Bug,” and Luke is “LB” (for Little Boy).  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Sally has a petname from Bapa as well.

I love how much my dad loves our kids.  I love that they will have a special relationship with him like I have had throughout my life.  I set out to record 60 memories of him for his 60th birthday, but I ended up recording 72—and I can't wait for many more decades of memories with him, watching him interact with my children and hopefully my grandchildren.

My dad is a good soul.  I don’t know of a better one.  He is kind to his very core, honest, trustworthy, wise.  Just good.

I love, admire, and honor him for the person he is and the way he raised me.  There are no words to express my gratitude.  I’m hoping these memories do it justice.

I love you, Dad.  To add to a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother and father.  Fathers are so important, and you did the job right.

Happy 60th birthday—and here’s to at least 40 more!!


  1. Rachel, you are amazing, and I don't deserve you. How many people have someone write their eulogy 25 years before they die?! I can't imagine how long it must have taken you to write all that, especially given the considerable amount of exaggeration and embellishment that was involved. These posts will be a treasure to me. And you are a treasure to me. The posts do indeed make me sound far better than I am, but I'll try to live up to them. Thank you for doing this. I love you. Dad

  2. I tried to publish a comment that just vanished. Cliffs Notes: I have tears again! I have loved, loved, loved reading these. Thank you for writing them. You are certainly a credit to your dad, whose amazing character you've captured and conveyed so well. Beautiful and inspiring--all of it, and all of you.

  3. Rachel, I have loved reading all of these great memories of your dad! Thank you for sharing and embarrassing him a little bit. He really is so good :) Happy 60th Bapa!


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