Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Fond Farewell (Day 447)

Today the world says goodbye to a great man.  He is a man who fought against poverty in the Great Depression, against Axis powers in World War II, to win the hand and heart of the woman he loved, to build a business from the ground up, to raise five children, for the American economy, to achieve all that he ever dreamed, and to live (and die) how he wanted.  This man is my grandfather.

I remember my grandfather differently than most people, probably than anyone.  Grandpa and I had different experiences together than he had with the rest of his family members.  I lived in his apartment for 5 months (back in 2008 and 2009); he was, at the time, "dying."  You have to realize that I believed that to be complete poppycock, and that he just died this morning is proof that I was right. I also attended church with him for the greater part of the last 4 years, and I tend to think of his church as my church even though I'm not a member there.  (They are my sending church and through whom my fundraising is collected.)

I described my grandfather last night as a bouncy ball.  You are likely familiar with the idea that if you drop, not throw, a bouncy ball, it will fall to hit the floor and come back, but not quite as high.  My grandfather's health has been that ball over the past who knows how many years.  My very first memory of my grandfather is from when I was about six years old.  He, my brother, and I were going on an outing.  I'm not sure if we were going to the circus, the fair, or maybe just out to eat.  We had a vehicle with a bench seat (perhaps his old pickup truck which he eventually gave to our cousin Sarah), and Justin and I were seated next to my grandfather.  I remember my grandfather explaining a little bit about the car to my brother.  He said something about how if anything should happen to him (Grandpa) while driving that all my brother had to do--and do quickly!--was to get our grandfather's foot off the accelerator, that the vehicle would slow before too long.  Perhaps my grandfather has been bouncing for the greater part of my lifetime, but it didn't become obvious until the last few years how low that ball was bouncing.  He has always said to "Spend each day as though you'll live forever, but keep your bags packed."  Basically, live as sin-free as humanly possible, ready to meet your Savior, but don't dwell on death.

I wrote a poem in March.  I wrote it about my grandfather and the wife (who died a few years ago) of a friend.  I would like to share that with you here:
By Annalisa Simmer

Death is a funny thing.
All bodies die,
But not everybody dies.
Some people--
Many, in fact--
Are immortal.
We do not truly die...
At least not for a long time after we are dead.
Every photograph with a name scribbled on the back,
Every memory,
Every family story passed down from generation to generation,
Every life changed,
Every heart touched...
We do not die at our deaths;
We are only judged as to how we have influenced the world.

I don't cry today because my grandfather is not dead.  His soul is in Heaven with God, and who he was--his influence on the world--lives on.  I may no longer be able to give him hugs and introduce him to new people, but otherwise, nothing has changed.  I still hear his words of wisdom in my head.  I still hear the stories of his childhood as I read them written down.  I can still go visit him (or his earthly remains).  I can still see him in my photos.  And, most of all, I can continue to love him.

Anyway, this entry gets put in my blog because my grandfather has long been a supporter of my mission work.  He has taken every chance to tell me that he's proud of the work I'm doing in Guatemala.  From a man who I love and respect so very much, it was an honor to hear that.  I know he missed me.  I'm well aware that there are others among my family and friends who miss me as well.  It was my grandfather's support--letting me know how proud he was of what I'm doing--which has helped me along.  The man with the biggest pull in my life is the one who gave me his blessing and love to go do what I do.  For that, I--and those whose lives I have touched in Guatemala--are grateful.

Dear Grandpa,
Thanks for being who you've been.

Dear God,
Keep taking care of him as You have been.

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