Everyone loves a good story. We love movies that make us laugh and cry, novels that we can’t put down, and telling our favorite embarrassing, funny, or frustrating stories over and over again.
It is no surprise that we love stories, because we were created by the ultimate Storyteller. He has given each one of us a story, written on our hearts. Only He knows the ending. The most beautiful part to me, is that the threads of my story are woven in with hundreds of others. We should never be the main character of our story – it would never be as beautiful, and it would fall apart.
I have been thinking about stories lately for 2 reasons: I recently saw a film called A Story Worth Living, which was really inspiring and made me think hard about the story of my life. And in most recent events, our family said goodbye to my grandpa last week as he left this world.
My grandfather’s life was an epic story. I have learned many things in the last week or so that I never knew about him – too many to even share here. I knew that he was a brilliant man, and took the power of words very seriously. He was also wildly passionate about the Earth, and worked very hard to reuse, recycle, and repair anything he could. He dedicated his life to this work. He was quiet, gentle, and humble. One of the most distinct memories I have of him is his daily evening routine after work: he would sit in the living room with his red wine, cheese, and crackers and listen to NPR on the radio, often with his eyes closed. I think I inherited his love of learning and thirst for knowledge. I remember many times he would help me with my algebra or geometry homework, and teach me things that were way beyond what I needed to know. I remember picking up his issues of scientific journals at a young age, marveling at the big words, and trying to understand what the articles were talking about. I also remember practicing using my left hand so I could be ambidextrous like him :) Grandpa was also the most patient human being I think I have ever known. However, among the few things he did not have patience for was discord among loved ones, and idle conversation.
I can hear his voice, deep yet soft, reminding us to love. Forgive. Everything he said was meaningful, his words carefully chosen. I can hear his hearty laughter, which is never uncommon at family gatherings.
It has been really difficult to watch him decline in health these last few years. He worked until he was 80 years old! I hope I have that kind of dedication to my life’s work. It is inevitable that we will all meet death one day. But when you watch it slowly invade and take over the body of someone you love, it is excruciating. Loss is so much more complicated than I ever imagined, and I know it will be no stranger to me as life goes on. But I don’t want to talk about loss here. I want to talk about what I’ve gained.
I have learned from my grandpa that there is no problem that cannot be solved. There is no age at which you should stop learning, and it is never too late to say sorry. I have learned to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, like doing a puzzle on a rainy afternoon, dancing to records in the living room, riding a bike, taking a nap, reading a good book, and listening to NPR with a side of cheese & crackers. I will carry with me the importance of engaging only in what is most important, and leaving no time for worthless pursuits. I will find joy in what I already have, and find new uses for old things.
There are many things I hope to accomplish in my life that would make Grandpa proud. He was at every single one of my band concerts in middle and high school, as well as graduation. I wish he was going to be around to see me get my masters degree, but I know he will be proud. I hope to (continue) traveling the world, and see some of the places that he went. I want to love and serve someone like he and my grandma did for 60 years. I want to solve problems in the world and repair things that are broken. And most importantly, I want to hold close the ones who are most precious to me.
“I wonder what the other side will be when I have finished weaving all my thread. I do not know the pattern nor the end of this great piece of work which is for me. I only know that I must weave with care the colors that are given me, day by day, and make of them a fabric firm and true, which will be of service for my fellow man. Sometimes those colors are so dark and gray I doubt if there will be one line or trace of beauty there. But all at once there comes a thread of gold or rose so deep that there will always be that one bright spot to cherish or to keep, and maybe against its ground of darker hue it will be beautiful! The warp is held in place by the Master’s hand. The Master’s mind made the design for me; if I but weave the shuttle to and fro and blend the colors just the best I know, perhaps when it is finished, He will say, “‘Tis good,” and lay it on the footstool of His feet.”
My grandpa’s life was a beautiful tapestry. One woven with love, humility, intelligence, travel, adventure, health, and joy. I am thankful for the threads of my life that came from him. Genetically and otherwise, there are many ways I am like my grandpa, some of which I have just recently realized. The next time I am complimented on my curls, I will remember they came from him! Grandpa’s life on this earth may be over, but his story will never end. Not only because he will spend eternity in heaven, but because his story lives on in the hundreds of lives he touched. His story lives on through the memories we treasure. I saw a taste of this at the funeral – many old co-workers, neighbors, family friends, church members – people that all knew Grandpa personally. There were also people who only knew him by association with either my grandma, my mom or my aunt. Each person was touched in some way by his story – his patience, his hard work, his family legacy. My story is forever impacted by his. This is the power of human relationship, and the greater Story we are all part of. The pain of loss is evidence that love is real. And I would rather love, and endure loss, than never love at all.