Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Grandpa: A Composer of Character and Grace

Yesterday, Pastor Birch did a wonderful job leading the memorial service for my grandpa. My uncle said it best when he shared with me that the best funerals are the ones that are about the person. I couldn't agree more. It is exactly how every funeral - celebration of life - should be where both touching and funny stories are shared as well as the qualities that made them a unique individual. 

Grandpa touched a lot of lives which was made evident by the number of people that showed up to pay their last respects. 

Following is a tribute I wrote for Grandpa. I am very thankful to Pastor Birch for being willing to read it - and for reading it so well. I am touched by the kind words that some of you expressed to me, but I feel a greater sense of gratitude to you for coming and supporting our family. Whether if you were local or flew or drove miles and miles, your heartfelt appreciation for my grandfather will not be forgotten.

I also want to thank Diane, Karen and Gayle for their beautiful music as well as to those that shared stories and memories.

Here is my tribute:

Finding the words to describe a loved one that has passed and how profoundly they have affected my life is never easy. With each passing of a loved one, I reflect on how their lives were grandiose and vibrant, unique and meaningful and prevalent in their overflowing capacity of grace. A grace that was bestowed upon us with every greeting and goodbye...and the fulfilled, unforgotten moments in between.

Grandpa was no different.

Twenty years ago, Linda Ellis, wrote a poem called, The Dash. Since then I would like to think that most people spend more time reflecting on the small line that separates our earthly birth from our heavenly one. Until that poem was written, that small line that encapsulates every hill and valley and triumph and defeat was not contemplated nearly enough. Few have composed such a magnificent life like Grandpa. If the dash was a badge of honor, he earned it undeniably. If it were a badge representing how many he served with an attitude of grace and how those people were affected by his high standards of character, then he earned it without question.

When it came to commitment to faith and family, Grandpa raised the bar. God and family always, without hesitation, came first. Just as importantly, it came easily. When church was in session, he'd be there. If there was a lesson to be learned, he'd teach it. When there was time to play ball with his grandsons, an opportunity to show off his fancy pitches – each one with the promise that it was unhittable – he would take it willingly.  If there was a sporting event, a birthday or anything involving family, he was there. Usually right next to my dad.

Few have composed a magnificent life like Grandpa. He lived his dash with a contagious joy. Comforted by life around him whether birds at the feeder, or great-grandchildren climbing his walker, he enjoyed life like he lived it. To the fullest.

His greatest composition...well, it wouldn't take you long to figure it out if you were peering in through the window during the holidays. I think it's safe to say that his greatest love was his family. From his wife and children all the way down to his great-grandchildren. We are his opus.

Grandpa took every note the Good Lord gave him and composed a symphonic masterpiece. We, the orchestra of instruments, each unique in style, shape and sound play different notes with our own fanfares, but all playing for the same purpose. All playing variations of the same song he hummed and whistled into the fabric of our family. Each instrument, each note playing the tune of character and grace so we, like Grandpa, could epitomize the Great Conductor the best we can.

With our familial leaders only in our spiritual vision, our path looks and feels differently now. By walking together and carrying each other, we continue our journey with our backpacks filled with the tools and gifts given to us by their gracious hands. Grandma and Grandpa lived every day as if it were a beautiful day. Not once did they let one get away.

I was at your home yesterday and I was reminded of something. It’s not a house that makes a home, but…rather the love that resides there.

I love and miss you,



AUNT S HARYL said...

Ryan as usual you have expressed so beautifully words of love and care of one you shared your life with. Thank you so much. I am so sorry I could not have been with you and your family during this time of loss.

Love to you and the family,
Aunt Sharyl

Jenifer said...

He is leading you onward to great things in God's name! And what a cutie he was! That picture makes me want to hug him!