My Grandpa C. passed away on Saturday. Grandpa was 84 years old, and was married to Grandma for more than 64 of those years. I cannot imagine better models of faith, hard work, and compassion than my grandparents.
Grandpa and Grandma were married when they were just 19 years old. Grandpa had spent a semester at college, where he hoped to study accounting, before his dad told him he needed to come home and help on the family farm. Grandpa came home, married his high school sweetheart, and they built a life and a family together. Grandpa never lost sight of the value of education. He made sure that each of his children had the opportunity he missed to continue their education in college and beyond. Even Grandma went back to school once her children were old enough, studying to become a nurse.
Grandpa was never much for talking, but when he did talk you knew it was time to listen. Unlike most of us, he didn’t open his mouth unless he had something worth saying! A favorite story of mine comes from the early days of their marriage: as I remember it, Grandma got upset at Grandpa one day, and decided she was going home to her dad’s house–several miles away. She set off cross country on foot, but hadn’t gone far when Grandpa pulled up alongside her in a wagon and told her to get in. He drove in silence to her father’s home, then waited outside while she went in. When her dad found out why she was there, he told her to go on home with her husband where she belonged. Grandma came out, climbed back in the wagon, and Grandpa drove her home–and never said a word about it. When Dan and I got married they shared this secret to a peaceful marriage: they said whenever they had a disagreement, they worked it out by walking and talking–Grandpa would go outside and walk and Grandma would stay in the house and talk!
Grandpa’s dedication to serving God was expressed not through words but through actions. My dad told me once that it seemed one or the other of his parents was always his Sunday School teacher. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon church) functions almost entirely through volunteer efforts, and both Grandpa and Grandma served willingly wherever they were asked. I remember when, in their 60’s, they would get up at 2:30 in the morning to go serve in the Temple. Their devotion to God and to their family has been matched by their willingness to open their hearts and their home to everyone who crossed their path in life. Grandpa and Grandma’s home is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I know on earth, and those who have been welcomed there range from foreign students to troubled youth. They have come for a few hours or for several months at a time, and have each found a place of love and encouragement.
Grandpa and Grandma have never been wealthy or famous, they have never accomplished anything that the world would take note of. What they have done is to live the essence of the two great commandments to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. I can seek nothing greater than to follow in their footsteps.