This month marks a grim milestone for our family. It’s been an entire decade since my grandpa passed away. Our Papa Pete.
He grew up in Ukraine and saw the atrocities of World War II. The family moved to the United States and settled just outside of Chicago in April of 1949. Papa Pete worked in the steel mills until the 1950s. He and grandma purchased our family farm with his parents and moved to Southwest Michigan.
Papa Pete was on the farm for over 50 years. There are memories of him–good and bad–all over that land. He worked alongside us almost until the end. I don’t think he would’ve wanted it any other way. And now his memory is part of our family’s farm legacy.
I’ve often wondered what he would think of things now. We’ve completely transitioned away from the fruit production he was so familiar with. I know he would be worried about the farm economy and the future. I also like to think he’d be incredibly proud of my brothers and I.
Sometimes, when you’re on the farm and let your mind wander in a quiet moment, you can almost expect to see him driving his favorite blue pick-up truck down the road, cutting up a sun-warmed cantaloupe with his pocket knife, or sorting peaches for the market.
We miss you, Papa Pete.