It has been a year since I’ve posted on this blog, and I’m in no way saying that I’m going to commit to posting regularly again, but who knows.
In the last year I’ve learned what it means to be truly thankful for a lot of things in life. I could write a lot more about it, but I’ll save it for a different day. My grandpa passed away 5 months ago. It has been 5 months without Sunday visits, 5 months without him telling me to “take care now” and holding my hand, 5 months of figuring out what life looks like without him. But, it has also been 5 months of celebrating the 25 years I had with him, 5 months of remembering that his 9 year relationship with Parkinson’s is finally over, and 5 months of feeling grateful for the laughter we shared together and the life lessons he has taught me. Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but lately I’ve been feeling pretty dang thankful for the guy who knew how to be the best grandpa ever.
A lot of people have asked me to share the eulogy I gave at his memorial service, so here it is, 5 months late, but still just as true.
“To second what my uncle said, thank you all for being here today. The prayers and love that you have given us all during this time is truly incredible. I’ve been told that my grandpa was a pro when it came to writing and giving eulogies..apparently you can be a pro at this, so bear with me because this is my first one.
A couple days ago I texted my sister Amy and our two cousins Michael and Alexandra asking them to tell me a few words that reminded them of our grandpa, here’s what we said, “Ambitious, adventurous, globetrotter, determined, compassionate, funny, picture taker, ice cream sharer, gold spoon giver, our anchor, full of faith, inspiring, a story teller, proud, humble, the best, and our biggest fan.” Our grandpa frank was all of these things and more-and I think you would all agree. He always kept us on our toes until his last day, and I think this is because he knew what it was like to live a life that was full. Even in his later years, he still knew what was important, family, friends, health, laughter, and faith.
My grandpa taught me more than I can comprehend, but the best thing he taught me was the importance of a piece of paper and a pen. When I was growing up I loved to tell stories, and him being the person that he was-he listened to every story my brain could possibly imagine, and encouraged me to write them down or email them to him. As I got older, he told me to write down all the lessons I had learned, the places I had gone, and one good thing and one bad thing about every day. A bad thing so I remembered that life was never going to be perfect, and a good thing to remember that even when life wasn’t perfect- there is still good because God is good all the time. Now that I’m going to be a pastor, I understand what he meant when he told me that writing changes things. He not only encouraged me to write, but he taught me the importance of words and the ways that they can shape people and impact their lives. He showed me that writing does not only change other people’s lives, but it can change my own. He showed me that writing is one of the ways that I will always be able to see that God is at work in the world and in my life and I’m truly grateful for this.
From playing office with me and sending me home with a brief case full of office supplies and pens when I was 8, telling me I’d need it someday, to welcoming us 4 grandkids in with a grin, jazz hands, and a huge hug, to making sure we all got an equal amount of ice cream after dinner and rotating the gold spoon in it’s proper cycle until he finally got 5 gold spoons, to not allowing us to eat our ice cream until we were members of the clean plate club, to bringing us downtown to his office to look out over the skyline that seemed limitless, to having a lap that was big enough to hold us all when we watched Disney movies, to reading stories and changing his voice so we could tell the characters apart, to calling us all by our full names because they were given to us for a reason- to allowing us to bike a little bit further down the sidewalk than grandma would let us (sorry grandma…), to waving at us during every event we had growing up including one of my first sermons, to holding our hands when life got a little too real, and finally he always reminded the 4 of us not to work too hard, to take care of ourselves, and to come back home every once in a while. Our grandpa was our biggest fan and there has never been a day when I have questioned the amount of love that this man had for not only his family, but the world.
He has taught the 4 of us grandkids what it feels like to grin from ear to ear because someone is so proud of us, that the best thing we can do is be in relationship with others and God, that we always, always need to take care of ourselves because life is too short to burn out, that working hard is important, but working too hard is unnecessary, that the hard times will always pass, and that we can accomplish our goals as long as we don’t give up and pursue them. Our grandpa was our anchor, because he kept us all on our feet when we could have easily stumbled, and kept us all laughing because he knew that laughter was the best way to get through tough times. He was our photographer because we found more pictures of him taking pictures of our family than anything else…those picture boards out there were a real struggle. He was inspiring because he was the most determined, ambitious, compassionate, and goal oriented person we have ever met, but still made time for his family. He was adventurous not only because he traveled, but because he made every day an adventure with us grandkids. He was loving because he didn’t ever want anyone to feel like they were alone, and when you were with him, you didn’t. Our grandpa just had a way of knowing what we all needed, and I think that’s all you can ask for in a best friend.
So grandpa, today this one is for you. We are here to celebrate your life and to thank you for being the best grandpa to the 4 of us, and being our biggest fan. Thank you for singing to us, for letting us win candy land, for reading to us how ever many bedtime stories we wanted to hear, for waving at us even when it was embarrassing and making that wave more obnoxious when you knew we were embarrassed, for being our paparazzi, for writing letters to us even if they were about things we didn’t necessarily understand or your dentist appointments, for cheering for us during every aspect of life, for giving us a hand to hold but never a reason to hold it, and most of all, thank you for teaching us what it looks like to live a good, faithful, and full life. I would be up here for hours if I told you all everything we learned from him, and that is a legacy we should all want to leave.
It’s going to be hard not to miss you because we all love you and I think I speak for the 4 of us when I say you were our first best friend. We know the grief will pass, and that you would say, “This too shall pass.” We know you would say take care of yourselves, I’m still with you. It’s going to be hard to not hold your hand, but I know you are still holding mine. We all know that you’ll be there with you smirk, a poodle, a bowl of ice cream, next to God, ready to wrap us up in a hug when it’s our time to enter heaven. We all know that the biggest fans get the best seats, and now you have the best seat ever because you get to watch us all at the same time and wave at us from up above.
Oh..and grandma, you will be mad at me for sharing this, but here we go- you were telling me that they called you “Mrs. Frump” as a joke when you were at the Aquatennial events with grandpa because you were with queens, princesses and “big shots,” but anyone in this room will tell you that when grandpa looked at you, you were his only queen, and you always will be. The love you two shared for each other was unlike anything else and truly created by God- when you’re feeling lonely- remember that love-and call me-I’m always here to listen to your stories about him
So as my grandpa always said- Wait-where’s my hug?, drive safe, don’t work too hard, and take care of yourselves…see ya later!”
This post is longer than most, but this year I’m thankful for all the grandpas in the world. Especially my own and all that they taught me. I hope you all have a great day celebrating the things that you are thankful for and making new memories with your loved ones!