Friday, August 23, 2013

Grandpa Bill

Early this morning Dan's grandfather, Grandpa Bill, passed away. It was around this time last year that we lost his other grandfather, Grandpa Joe. Now I find myself sitting here, another turn around the sun and an August later, thinking once again of just how precious the people in our lives truly are. If we are lucky, we can be utterly blessed by them.

The roles they play;

The example they offer;

The leadership they show;

The virtues and qualities they fill our lives with;

These are the gifts that they can bestow on those they leave behind.

Grandpa Bill was without any doubt, the kindest and most gentle man I've ever had the privilege of knowing. I remember my first few meetings with him. I had been dating Dan for a little while and our relationship was deemed permanent enough to take it to the next level of appearing at Family Gatherings. From our first introduction, Grandpa Bill showed grace and kindness in welcoming into the family. That was his way: welcoming. Since the day Dan and I were married, 15 years ago, I always felt like I was Grandpa Bill's granddaughter. Not by the title of "in law", but just truly a member of his family.

Whether the gathering was big or small, I knew that if I wanted, there was a chair next to him for me. We would sit and talk. About nothing, or everything. He was one of those rare people who was genuinely interested in whatever you had to say, and he listened attentively, and participated in the conversation eagerly. In his presence, you knew you were the center of his attention. I cannot tell you what a golden gift that is, his focus and consideration, and I will carry that memory in my heart forever. I will remember him recounting stories from his youth, his time serving our country, and the trips he and Grandma took over the years.

Like many, his life traversed both good times and bad; adventures and misadventures; times of ease and times of burden. Yet no matter where the journey of his life had taken him, he remained steadfast and humble; his heart focused securely on the truth to life's happiness: family.

He loved being surrounded by his family. Just last year we had the joy of spending time together as one large group. He and Grandma were surrounded by their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It was loud. It was busy. It was (at times) chaotic with kids and an assortment of toys ever underfoot. And he adored every single minute of it. I observed him at one point just sitting in a chair and watching; taking in everything around him, and smiling. True to himself, he was completely in that moment, enjoying the precious gift of family.

His absence leaves a hole, but in the space of that gap there is an abundance of memories--gifts--that he's left us. His gentle spirit, his kind words and humble attitude, his gracious demeanor, and his open and loving heart. He was more than words on any screen could ever encompass and will be missed more than any words could accurately convey. But I'm grateful for the legacy he leaves behind for his family; thankful for the millions of ways he touched and blessed us all.

Thank you, Grandpa Bill, for being a shining example of family, love, kindness, gentleness, compassion, humility, and grace. Till we meet again.