My grandpa died June 17, the day after Caleb and I got back from campmeeting. His death was not unexpected, due to his heart condition, blood cancer, and frequent strokes, but you're never quite ready to say good-bye to someone you love.
I'd expected my memorial blog post to center around what a wonderful grandpa he had been to me. I was the youngest of 4 kids and my parents both worked full time. For some reason---perhaps due to my youthful exuberance---my parents found it expedient to send me to stay with my grandparents frequently during school breaks and holidays. I was fine with this. I got to be queen of the roost and have fun with pretty much the world's best grandparents. Sorry about the rest of you, but I got the cream of the crop.
But what I discovered as my mom and I searched through old photos and mementos in preparation for the funeral, was a glimpse at how profoundly my grandpa had impacted my own life. My grandpa was an amazing man---anyone who knew him will tell you that---and he left a lasting legacy for those blessed enough to have him as a part of their lives. He lived a live of quiet dedication and integrity---the kind of life that impacts those around in ways they aren't even aware of at the time.
Like me, for instance.
I'd never realized before how so many of the things that make up the whole of me can be traced directly back to the unconscious influence of the wonderful, godly man that was my grandpa. I am so very, very grateful to have had him in my life.
It is impossible to isolate and analyze all of the many ways he influenced me, but here are just a few of them....
1. It's pretty obvious we both have it going on in the looks department. You have to be born with it, folks.
2. A life-long gift of reading is an amazing legacy to leave. My grandpa was always reading. My mom was always reading. She would read at stop lights. I guess it gets worse every generation, because my children get mad at me when I try to read while driving. Spoil sports!
3. My grandparents' missionary service in Hawaii has left our family culture an amazing mixture of pasty white mid-western, Asian, and Hawaiian. Our family cuisine runs the gamut from rich, brown gravies (and anything with Jello or mayonnaise) to sushi and li hing muis with lemons. (and yes, that's me on the right. It was an awkward age, OK?)
4. My grandpa is responsible for my love of all things Christmas. From a very young age I was "needed" in decorating for Christmas each year---though I'm sure at times I was more hindrance than help. Now I'm working to pass the same spirit of excitement and wonder along to the next generation.
5. An avid photographer, my grandpa had reams of slides and movies that he loved to take out and show all his grandkids. Between him and my dad, my siblings and I developed a love of photography that lasts to this day.
6. My grandpa was an amazing teacher, beloved by all his students. He knew how to make dry material come alive through humor and fun, but also inspired a respect in his students that lasts to this day. Teaching is something I love to do also---there's nothing like seeing the light click on in someone's mind as they grasp a new concept.
7. OK, so this one's only partly true. Grandpa wasn't all that crazy about cats, but he put up with them for the sake of those in the family that loved having them around. Thereby allowing for the growth and development of one crazy cat lady.
8. Road trips with Grandpa! Who in our family doesn't remember at least one? Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, the Rockies....I was fortunate to take many cross-country trips with my grandparents, igniting my love of the open road.
9. Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! I grew up feasting on the most amazing tomatoes in the world. It's still just not summer without some home-grown tomatoes, though I have to grow them myself now.
I am so profoundly grateful for the amazing family I have been blessed with. My grandparents, my mom and dad, even my siblings (they aren't so bad now that they're grown up!), all helped to shape me and all enriched my life immeasurably. I will miss my grandpa, but I look forward to seeing him again and telling him how he changed my life in so many wonderful ways.