It surprised me to read this because I never thought of Papa as the "cuddly type" - in fact, he was quite the opposite. Even when my brother and I came along, he still had an edge to him, though he was somewhat softer with us than with his own children. I was looking through my old pictures and found a few with my Papa and me. They were surprisingly tender moments where he is either holding me or playing or joking with me. I remember, when I was very young, having a difficult time approaching him because he was a very quiet and very tall man. As I got older, he opened up more, and even taught me to play cribbage. He was cut-throat about it - I didn't get any slack just because I was his granddaughter. I can't remember a time when we visited our grandparents that he wasn't watching or playing golf, going square-dancing with grandma, or getting together with their gang (the S.O.B's). No matter what the setting, you could count on Papa to tell an off-color Norwegian joke that left some people scratching their heads.
Despite his gruff exterior, Papa would surprise me every so often. When I became pregnant at a rather young age, he was the only one in my family who wasn't upset with me. Instead, he jabbed me in the ribs with his elbow and, with a straight face, said "You know, Jen, you should never take something serious that was poked at you in fun", then winked at me. When I was in grad school, and Papa was sick, I would sometimes come over to the house to help out - sometimes just for company, or to shovel the driveway. He would get teary eyed, something I never thought I'd see from him, and would thank me for helping, even though I know he was upset that he couldn't do it himself.
Even though Papa was gruff and stoic, he still meant a great deal to me. It brought a tear to my eye to read my dad's email about his wanting to be close to his father. It made me think of my relationship with Papa, as well as the relationship with my own father. I'm glad things have changed a little - that it's okay for a father to be tender and say "I love you". It's what every kid needs from a father.