Monday, October 18, 2010

Not goodbye, but see ya later!

A face only a mother could love.....and a daughter... Look at all that hair!?! I hate it, but on this day I was soooo excited to have him any way I could get him. This is how he came.

The day before the funeral I got my first good news since I heard about my Grandpa. My dad was given a furlough. I got to pick him up at 8AM, and he was able to attend the funeral without an escort. I had 12 hours until he needed to return to Tucson. It was a long, hard, emotional day with lot's of driving. But it was my pleasure and totally worth it.

I keep having to shake my head and ask myself, flight risk huh??? Oh well, it was such a blessing to have my dad be able to attend his dad's funeral how he did. Prayers were answered!

My grandfather had begun to type up his wishes for when he died and his services. On June 1st of this year he wrote, "In all these proceedings, I hope someone will mention that I was a man who tried his best, was conscientious of his responsibilities, but who made many mistakes and wrong decisions throughout his lifetime. It was my great fortune that Nicky agreed to share her life with me as I loved her intensely, admired her achievements, marveled at her sparkle and enthusiasm, benefited from her care and comforting, and felt her forgiveness for my faults. I was indeed a most blessed man because of her. May God bless her and our family. Thank you, Nick!" It was so nice to read it and know that these things were his wishes, and I'm sure it eliminated some difficult decisions for my grandma and gave her comfort at the same time. I would encourage everyone to do the same. A great gift for those left behind.

There was a table that displayed these pictures in a room where people could come and talk to my grandma before the service. We gathered as a family for prayer before the service began.

It was so nice to walk into the chapel for the service as a family and see that the entire room was filled with those who came to celebrate my grandfather's life and support my family. My dad was giving the Eulogy so he walked and stood on the stand and waited for everyone to be seated. I could see him quiver with emotions as he looked into the audience. That opened my floodgates. He got choked up a few times as he spoke and it was very touching to see. No one wants to see their parent sad.....but for me, it was re-assuring to see that sensitive side. He was probably the most emotional out of the family there. As odd as it may sound, it gave me a certain amount of comfort in seeing that. I would imagine that the last 5 years of my dad's life and the support his dad gave to him during that difficult time added to that.

If there is something good about a funeral, it's that we get to learn things we didn't know about these people we have gathered to honor. I was looking forward to that, and I wasn't disappointed. I didn't know my grandpa had failed kindergarten. :) It was interesting to hear the stories about associations he had with well known people like Lou Holtz, Kent Dana, and Magic Johnson.

We are blessed to have the spirit in our lives to testify of truth and give us comfort. Thankfully it was present in both capacities that day. I felt it as my dad tenderly talked about my grandparents moving to AZ and how essential it was to their conversion to the gospel, and Grandpa's commitment to it. As well when my dad said he knew because of his patriarchal blessing that his parents were meant to be together and meant to be his parents. The spirit gave me tingles as people spoke on how much my grandpa adored my grandma; that she was the only one he would notice in a full room and how they always celebrated their first date, their first marriage, and their temple marriage because they were important dates for them.

I had seen sheet music to a song that Grandpa had written the lyrics to, but they were just words and notes on a page. It was a special touch to have the lady who wrote the music, and her daughters sing my Grandpa's words to that song. It was beautiful!

As the Bishop gave his closing remarks he spoke about a lesson Grandpa had given on the Plan of Salvation. How powerful of a lesson it was, and that anyone in that class could not doubt Grandpa's testimony of the gospel and that Plan. I needed to hear that. It's now that he is gone, I need the same faith that he had in the wonderful plan Heavenly Father has for us. Several people spoke on Grandpa's love for missionary work, and that he is happy now where he is and teaching the gospel to those who didn't have that opportunity to learn of it in this life.

The service was really wonderful. After a family luncheon, I drove my dad "home". The day was bitter/sweet in many ways.

The next Monday September 20th, was a service at the National Cemetery. My grandma came over and spoke to Qie and Qadry and told them how much better off Grandpa was. How miserable he had been the last little while and that he is ok now doing missionary work. It was good to listen to her speak to them, and I recognized what she was saying to be true.

The service was short and sweet. We were warned about the gunshots, but still weren't prepared. I watched my Aunt and Grandma jump with each shot, and held Kaige as he cried with fear. Thankfully Kaige calmed down, and we could sit and listen and watch as they did their military presentation.

It was the first time I saw emotion visible on my grandma's face. I felt the spirit, peace, respect, and honor in this quite peaceful place. It was nice. I gave the closing prayer and was nervous about it. But thankfully it wasn't me who chose the words, I depended on the spirit to guide me, and I truly felt like the right words were said as we bid farewell to our dear Grandpa. He will be missed and may we learn from his example and his life!

I painfully regret not knowing how sick and miserable Grandpa was those last few weeks. He said goodbye to me once before an open heart surgery, and he survived. Over the last 15 year, I feel like I've been told several times he might not live long, and yet by the next time I saw him he seemed just fine, rosy cheeks and all. I wish I had been more in tune and had been more sensitive to his needs this last year, but there is nothing I can do to change the past. Just learn from it!

It's in times like these, family becomes even more important. In many ways I feel like my family has been broken over the last few years. I hate it, but as most of us gathered together to celebrate Grandpa's life, I have hope for better times in the future. I hope that I won't take the loved ones I still have for granted like I may have done with Grandpa. And I pray for healing in the hearts of those I love. That we may all be able to forgive one another and find an appreciation for each other.

Some may not like that we smiled and took pictures at a funeral, but it was good to be together, and like I said the day was very much bitter/sweet. I will cherish these pictures and wish that we had been able to include more of my family in them.

This time has allowed me the opportunity to reflect on my faith and beliefs. I am so thankful for the gospel in my life, for the gift of the holy ghost that continues to comfort me. The words from the song "Families Can Be Together Forever" continue to run through my mind.

"I have a family here on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them
Through all eternity.
Families can be together forever
Though Heavenly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family
And the Lord has shown me how I can."

If you know this song, I hope you are singing it to yourself as you read the words, and picturing your precious family. I am so thankful that I have been sealed to my family and I know that we will continue our relationships after this life. The following is an excerpt from my Grandpa's journal; this special testimony is a wonderful reminder how important it is for us to keep a journal....or blog....

"Whether you are my wife, or one of my children, or a grandchild, or some friend of the family, I want you to know without any doubt, of the love I have for our Savior, Jesus Christ.
If things in your life seem to be going wrong, please let my testimony of Christ's love for you buoy up your spirits, because I know He does love you and me, and all mankind. We may break his heart by the actions we take, the things we think or the bad feelings we may have, but the fact will always remain that He loved us first, and He loves us still, and He always will."
Dave Jenkins

So Grandpa, not goodbye....but see ya later......


  1. What a lovely brought tears to my eyes. I only knew him a sort while, but even so I know what a kind man he was. I loved hearing he and Grandma's love story. It was so touching.

    The pictures of the family turned out well. I don't see why it would bother people...I view funerals as a celebration of someone's life. I think smiling and taking pictures is a good thing. I hope people do the same at mine. :)

    The excerpt from his journal gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes all the same time. Thank you for sharing <3

  2. This was beautiful poiette. Thank you for sharing apart of you and your amazing family and grandpa with us. Hugs and loves all around.