Grandson Pete

Grandson Pete

On December 30, 1988 my oldest grandchild, Pete, was born to my daughter on my son’s 25th birthday. He was beautiful both inside and out from that moment until he died tragically on his mother’s 49th birthday on July 5, 2010.  I wrote my first book about Pete’s tragedy and it’s called  WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW. Losing him is the biggest heartbreak I have ever known and, at my age,  I have known quite a few.

His mother and I immediately recognized that Pete was born with an old soul and had wisdom and insight kids his age normally would not.  When he was an infant and cried, she sang “Over the Rainbow” to him and he’d quiet immediately.  It worked beautifully. When his first Christmas rolled around, I felt so lucky when I found a music box he could easily operate and it played that song.  He loved it. When he graduated high school, they each wore a different colored cap and gown and rainbows were their class theme.  Of course, “Over the Rainbow” played at the end of the ceremony.

Pete's Rainbow

Pete’s Rainbow

In the weeks after his death from a 100 foot fall off a Colorado mountain ledge at night, we had rainbows almost every single day or evening and they were simply spectacular.  I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.  Almost everyone noticed them and started taking pictures to share with us. That was over six years ago now and it’s never happened since.

However, only recently did the beginning lyrics of that song suddenly ring a bell with me as I actually stopped and thought about what they say.  “Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.”  Then it struck me that his mother had done exactly that for Pete when he was so tiny…she sang it as a lullaby to comfort him.  Coincidence?

Pete's Awesome Rainbow

Pete’s Awesome Rainbow

Needless to say, that particular song  is extremely important to our family and it never fails to summon forth tears when I hear it sung.  It has become what I refer to as our family hymn. How prophetic was it to attach itself to Pete as soon as he was born.  He died at the tender age of 21 and was loved by everyone who knew him. Unlike all the hatred and chaos happening in the world today, Pete was blessed with a warm and loving personality and he spread good feelings wherever he went.  Nobody has ever said anything bad about him to my knowledge and he’s still fondly remembered by so many. As I say in my book about him, we take comfort to know he’s still out there…somewhere…over the rainbow.

A Gradnmother's Love is Forever

A Grandmother’s Love is Forever

 (“Over the Rainbow” lyrics by E. Y. Harburg, music byHarold Arlen – written for the movie WIZARD OF OZ in 1939.)

WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW is available as both a trade paperback and Kindle on  and as a trade paperback or Nook on or It can also be ordered by any Barnes & Noble store. To read more about it, click on the ABOUT link at the top of the page.

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About jtzortman

Author of "WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW" - A Grandparent's Journey Through Grief, first place award winning novel "FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST" and award-winning novel "SNOW ANGEL". Contributing author to anthologies "Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides", "American Blue", "Recipes by the Book: Oak Tree Authors Cook" and "The Centennial Book of The National Society of Daughters of the Union 1861-1865". Numerous articles, poems and short stories published since 1990. Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association and member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Winner of ten writing awards. I live in a quaint Colorado mountain tourist town with my husband and Siamese cat. When deeps snows blanket the terrain and spectacular views from my windows, it becomes the perfect spot in which to write.
This entry was posted in accidents, books, Colorado, grief, music, rainbows. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to PETE’S RAINBOWS

  1. mmgornell says:

    Beautiful on many levels.


  2. Denise says:


  3. Carol Keller says:

    Very beautifully written, Jackie. My heart still hurts for you. Prayers.


    • jtzortman says:

      Thank you, Carol. For whatever reason, Pete is heavy on my heart in the fall. Barb says it’s the same for her and neither of us know why this particular season does that to us. But I wrote this as a good memory. We were blessed to have had him 21 years.


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