“Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable – if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4.8
This past week my family has walked through the shadow of death as we came to grips with the death of my Grandfather. He died just short of his 93rd birthday; a life well lived.
As I began to read messages of sympathy sent to our family on the funeral home website, messages sent to me and cards arriving at my mom and dad’s the word ‘great’ to describe Grandpa seemed to come up a lot. A simple word that is often used to describe kings, sports stars, movie stars and leaders of countries or provinces. Yet it kept appearing as a way to honour and celebrate the patriarch of our family. My Grandfather was a great man, he was also unique in the ways that he approached life and lived out his mission.
Each member of the family was given the opportunity to place an item into my Grandfather’s casket. I choose to include a piece of writing. Grandpa was always amazed that I could write the way I do and that I wasn’t just copying other people’s words. I thought that sending him off to his eternal reward with some of my own words was the right thing to do. In part this is my tribute to a great man, who helped shape me, who encouraged me in every step of my journey and whose witness of faith sparked my own to go deeper.
Thank you for the gift of life you shared with me, for lessons learned, for the stories told, for the moments we had together. Thank you for raising a beautiful family where I had my first friends and know life-long support.
We should all hope to live a life as privileged as you. Yes, I said privileged because you knew the privilege of:
the beauty of a life-long soul mate,
the love of family,
the good cheer of friends,
the depth of faith,
the dedication to community,
the effort of hard work,
the joy of music,
the willingness to volunteer,
the appreciation of time,
the awareness of prayer,
the desire to reflect,
the learning from history,
the tenacity to reach goals,
the quality of authenticity,
the hope of the spring seeding,
the amazement of a good harvest,
the gift of each season,
the freedom of a lively dance,
the laughter in a good joke,
the sweetness of a good drink,
the delight in a trick played,
the lesson of a story shared,
and trust in God.
You see Grandpa, it is a privileged and blessed life. Your witness of life is one I hope I can continue to learn from and carry with me as I live out my vocation as a Franciscan Friar.
I have loved you from the first time you held me with the great pride only a Grandfather can know and show. I am ever grateful to have called you my Grandfather and to be called your Grandson.
I trust you will pray for me.