Apr 21, 2012

A Tribute to Grandpa

By Bonnie Harris

Death is something that no one can escape. It has touched everyone in some way, whether it be a family member, friend, neighbor, acquaintance, celebrity, or pet. When our lives have crossed paths with death, it tends to be a time of reflection on our own lives as well as those who are no longer with us. These silent or spoken tributes help shape our way of living, at least for the next little while.
My grandpa recently passed away. It has brought many things to my mind. As my family and I made arrangements to attend the funeral, the reason for us leaving town brought much sympathy and sorrow. Faces of friends and neighbors would fall as they expressed their thoughts. “I’m sorry for your loss,” and “You have our/my sympathy,” were the most common phrases spoken. I’ve pondered what people said as of late, and found their first reaction didn’t make sense to me.
I understand those kind of sediments for an unexpected loss or the loss of a young person, but for a passing that is expected and actually a blessing, those phrases left me wondering. Now, I realize that that specific information was unknown to most people and some grandparents are young and their deaths are unexpected, but at the time I hadn’t thought of that. 
The more I’ve thought about it, maybe it’s the fact that I believe in an afterlife, and I know I will see my grandpa again, that have made the sorrowful sympathies unnecessary, in my eyes. I know that he’s been released from a state of pain in a sense, since he’s been sick for years. Maybe it’s a combination of all of that, and if people had all of that information up front, their responses might be different. Then again, a time of sorrow can be a time of celebration as well.
Those thoughts were ever present during his viewing and funeral service. What began as a sad moment, turned into a happy reunion since I saw cousins I hadn’t seen in years. We visited, laughed, and caught up on each others lives. Memories of what we loved about Grandpa came out, memories I had forgotten about—like riding in a wagon down the hill (which seemed so huge at the time) in Grandpa’s back yard or climbing up the cherry tree or that he loved Almond Joys or how he would laugh many different ways just because.
A twenty-one gun salute and the presentation of a flag reminded me of his service to this great nation. It also told of the many times Grandpa performed the same service to other veterans who have gone before him.
The luncheon, after the dedication of the grave was full of great-grandchildren running around, screaming, laughing, and having a wonderful time with each other. Grandpa’s legacy filled the church hall with joyful noises (no matter what else parents may call it). It was wonderful to witness the love that has grown from him.
So, I am adding my tribute to those already witnessed, to a wonderful, loving, Grandpa.
I find it interesting that as we think back on the time we’ve shared with people, often times it’s the little things that we roll our eyes at that are the first thoughts that come to mind. And in turn, it is those things we will miss the most.
  • I loved the way Grandpa squeezed my cheeks so hard and then kissed me on the lips in greeting and farewell.
  • I loved how Grandpa sat and listened to our visits, hardly saying a word, until it was time to leave and we were headed out the door. Then Grandpa started talking and asking questions, inevitably elongating our visit for up to another hour or so.
  • I loved watching Grandpa put the same puzzle piece in the exact same spot time and time again, even though it didn’t fit.
  • I loved how Grandpa put horse radish on everything, and when I say everything I mean EVERYTHING. We’d all say, “Ew! Gross!” as he scooped up a large helping of horse radish, dumped it on whatever, and put it in his mouth, grinning from ear to ear.


  1. I never know what to say to someone who has lost a loved one. Those phrases you mentioned are so easily said, but they sound so plastic sometimes, yet I found myself saying "I'm sorry for your loss" just yesterday when a nephew of a ward member called my (bishop) husband to ask about funeral arrangements.

    I lost my mother 28 years ago, and I can still remember so many wonderful things about her, like how she taught me how to draw when I was 7. She suffered with cancer for 18 years, so when she died and her mother and sisters came for her funeral, it was like a family reunion. I can remember laughter, tears, and a saddened sense of relief that my mother wasn't in anymore pain.

    I'm sorry your grandpa died, but I'm glad you have such good, strong memories of him. Those are precious.

  2. What a lovely tribute to your grandpa. Knowing you have the testimony you do, I am sure is one of his greatest joys. I laughed about the horse radish...too funny! He sounds like a great man! I am sorry I did not know him!

  3. I lost my grans way too soon. I still miss them. But I have that odd feeling every now and again they are still watching over me like they did when I was young.

  4. A lovely tribute. My mother will turn 90 this year and my father has passed.As you say those happy memories of my grandparents and father mean so much. Your blog leaves my heart full.


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