I had the esteemed privilege of being able to speak at my grandfather’s funeral this past weekend. He was a wonderful man who lived a long and prosperous life. He was 93 when he passed and though he will be greatly missed, we rejoice with him as he is united with His Heavenly Father and Savior in heaven. These are the words I spoke.
Whether you knew my grandfather for a moment or a lifetime, you most definitely heard at least one of his life stories. My grandfather loved to share. When I was younger I thought he told his stories only because he enjoyed talking, but as I have grown I realized he was not just sharing stories, he was instilling values and teaching lessons.
His stories taught us the importance of being kind in a cruel world as he shared about the neighbor boy he would play with when he was little. The boy did not attend school because he was a special needs child and back then they had no classes for children with special needs. The other children were cruel to him so the mother would not send her boy to school or allow him to leave the yard because the other children were mean, but she did allow my grandfather to play with the boy because he was kind to the boy, patient and accepting.
He showed us what it meant to love in sickness and in health, for all the years my grandmother was sick, he never left her side. My grandfather even completed household chores even though he was raised in an era when that would have been considered “woman’s work.” He served and tended to my grandmother’s needs, to the very end.
His stories revealed true undefiled religion as he cared for the widows by delivering food to their homes.
His lessons taught us to work smarter not harder. Anyone who has ever done any work at the Bluff received the wheelbarrow lesson at least once. Always turn the wheelbarrow the direction you are going to go while the wheelbarrow is empty. Work smarter not harder, but never be afraid of hard work as my grandfather was a hard working man.
We learned the benefits of stability. He purchased his piece of land and raised his children there, his grandchildren grew up considering it a second home.
He lived a life of discipline, rising early, always reading his Bible, departing for work, providing for the family, tending to the garden, going to bed early so you can rise early and begin again.
He demonstrated how important it is to have a balance to life. He was a hard working man, but he also took plenty of time to sit on the front porch to swing.
My grandfather’s stories make us a part of history.
We have a first hand account of what life was like during the depression. We can use our imagination to create images of mill work as my grandfather described in details what work was done in the mill and even how the machines were made. We have experienced Alaska in a way few have, from the life of a sailor.
His stories bring us joy.
We laugh when he told us that grandma really went to visit him in Pensacola while he was in basic training because she just wanted a baby.
We snicker every time he mentioned loading “bums” on planes, because never once in my grandfather’s life did he ever day bomb.
We giggle at how he fell off the porch the first time grandma kissed him.
His stories provide us with hope.
Hope of a better future.
Hope that this is not the end.
Hope that death is only the beginning of an eternity with our Father.
Hope in life beyond this world.
These are grandpa’s stories, but his stories do not end here, they continue in us and with us. As we recollect, learn, and share his stories, then the values, the joy, and the hope will endure.
This is the legacy my grandfather left us.