This last week has been a hard one. My family said goodbye to a wonderful man, my papah. I have always known I was very lucky to have all of my grandparents alive and so it was hard for me to say goodbye to him. Last Tuesday my dad called me and said that he was in the hospital and that the cancer that had gone away 2 years ago was back. I had the distinct feeling that this was probably the end, that night I was looking at flights to go home. I’m so glad I listened to the still small voice that told me to go on Friday. I flew in Friday night, they had just brought him home from the hospital with hospice and I got there basically for his last few hours of coherence. I walked in the house and walked up to him and said “Hi papah, its Angela” and he opened his eyes and smiled, something he hadn’t done in a few hours. I got to tell him that he had been a wonderful grandfather, someone who had always been around for us and so supportive.
Friday night I went to my dads to sleep and then came back Saturday morning. On Saturday all of his immediate family was there the entire day, his wife, his two sons and all five of his grandchildren. We were there comforting him the entire day until he took his last breath at 5:00pm. It was a special experience to be there with my family and I talk more about it in the eulogy I gave at the funeral which is below.
“Endings are not our destiny. The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions- temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful. In His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings.”
I’m so grateful that I had so much time with him, 28 years with a grandparent is special, especially when they live down the street and you see them frequently. He taught me that family is the most important thing in life.
This is what I read at the funeral:
People always say that actions speak louder than words, a sentiment that I truly believe. Papah was a man of few words, but his actions always spoke clearly. 17 years ago grandma and papah left a familiar life in St.Louis and moved here to Nashville with the purpose of being close to their children and grandchildren. I was 11 and I was so excited that they were moving in my neighborhood and just down the street, you see I already had a great love for my grandparents.
I’m the oldest grandchild and the only one who had the great pleasure to go to their house in st.louis for a week at a time by myself. I loved going to visit grandma at the school that she worked and what was really special was all the time I spent with papah going from museum to park to monument and activity. He would find new places to take me and we would go all over the city to make sure I had a great time in St.Louis.
Since they moved to Nashville 17 years ago Grandma and Papah proved everyday that their family was the most important thing in their lives. I can’t think of any important event in any of the grandchildren’s lives that He wasn’t present for. Every awards banquet, every athletic game, every birthday and holiday. See we have a very special family and the closeness that we feel is because of grandma and papah.
How many families can say that they had Sunday dinners almost every week growing up with their entire family? As I grew up I didn’t really understand the value of it, I knew I loved that our small family was close, but I truly didn’t understand it until Saturday afternoon. When our small family of Grandma and Papah with their two sons and their wives and 5 grandchildren were gathered together in the same house that we had gathered in for hundreds of Sunday dinners, afterschool homework sessions and Christmas mornings we were gathered yet again to hold his hand and kiss his head and be there with him as he left this world.
What I loved most about this experience is that it wasn’t unfamiliar people getting together because our grandfather was at the end of his life. It was people who know each other and love each other deeply, brought together because of the great man we are here today to remember and never forget.
People often say that a good sign of what your priorities are is how you spend your time. Today as we leave and remember the things that we love about our papah let us remember the greatest lesson he taught us, that family is what matters most. Let us spend our time with our loved ones so that they know that they are our highest priority and our greatest blessing. I know that his life is great legacy of love, that we his posterity know how much he loved and cherished us and how much we loved and cherished him.
Throughout the week his sense of humor was a large topic of conversation. He was one of those people that is quietly funny with jokes that you really have to be paying attention to get. My sister relayed a few at the funeral my favorite one was when she was watching some type of skating event during the olympics and my grandmother said something about the russian that was racing, papah said “they are all russian” and she said “no their not dave” and he said “well they are all russian along” 🙂
Another magnificent thing I learned about Papah is that he never swore or cussed. He would come up with other words to use like “nit wit” or “jiminey cricket” but none of his children or grandchildren or wife ever heard him use a swear word. What a great example of leading a clean, loyal, and honest life he was.
I love him and will miss him and I know I will see him again.