Another word often used in this context is "would" (which might explain your question about using "was"). It is often used in this way:
"My grandpa died 10 years ago and I still miss him. He would get up with me in the morning and we'd have breakfast. Then he would take me outside to play for a little while. He would teach me the names of the birds we saw in the backyard."
Frankly, I'm not sure that this use of "would" is even correct but you hear it so very frequently that I wouldn't even question its use.