Last month, Iwasgiven the special opportunity of saying goodbye to my grandfather in the most special way possible. I was able to give the eulogy at his funeral, and some how I had to try and speak about this man’s incredible life in just a few short minutes.
I didn’t know how to give his life the true justice it deserved. After all, my grandfather was a devout Catholic, and his works reached from services like Meals on Wheels and St. Vincent de Paul to the Secular Franciscan Order and Eucharistic Adorations. He even went as far as to try and reach people who were thinking of leaving the Catholic Church and show them that it wasn’t an archaic hateful place like some seem to think. He spent more time praying the Hail Mary in his finals days than he did anything else.
Even though his faith was his most amazing quality, he always was an amazing American. He served in the Navy and Navy Reserves for 30 years and was constantly watching the news to see what was happening in our world.
He was hysterical! My grandfather had a way with words that I feel will be great inspiration for a character in a future play or story of mine. Half of the time he was funny without even meaning to be.
He was a family man who always wanted to help. There are times I get so impatient and I don’t know how he managed to always want to help. It was always in him to give whenever anyone needed help, and even if they didn’t ask or pretended they didn’t need it, my grandfather intuitively knew and offered anyway.
So how do I put words together to show how great this man was? How much of a role model and inspiration he was to me? I went to the simple basics of his life. I saw the letters he wrote to his parents when he was off in the Navy. I remember talking to him about his years in high school when he was recruited to Saint Francis High School to play basketball and baseball and how he was horrible at English, which just so happened to be my favorite subject. I remember him having me proofread letters of his and how he would take me to Church, which he would help clean. I remember playing hide and seek underneath the pews with him, but don’t tell any priest you heard me say that!
I remember when he would drive me home from his house after babysitting me for the day and he would pretend he didn’t know how to get back to my house. And my kindergarten-self would pretend I knew how to get home and give him what were surely directions that would have us on the other side of town, yet we always managed to find our way.
Then there was the time my grandfather showed me how to make rosaries, by using his leftover beads. That is the memory I will remember the most about him and as I write this post I can picture grandpa and me sprawled out of the floor with hundreds of different colored beads and we made rosaries. Some may ask me why that was the one moment I’ll cherish the most, it doesn’t seem as fun or as memorable as some other memories. But to me it was his ability to see the beauty and purpose in the leftovers. He found a purpose for something that really shouldn’t have had one. Those beads wouldn’t make a traditional, acceptable, nice-to-look-at rosary, but instead created something unique, different, and yet something that still had a powerful purpose.
My grandfather lived his life everyday with a purpose and always saw that everything he did was to give to the greater glory of God. That is why I cherish that memory the most because for me, it has the greatest metaphorical value. So that is the story I decided to share along with a couple others to pay tribute to the man who guided me when I surely did not know my way, who supported me as I was confirmed into the Catholic Church, who told me plenty of jokes and gave me hysterical one-liners. But most importantly who showed me how deep faith trickles into our souls and is the reason we get up in the morning, is the reason we find light in darkness, is the reason we find pardon in injury, and is the reason we truly know and love ourselves and others.
He is the greatest man I have had the pleasure of knowing and is the reason I am confident in who I am and what I am doing. I am so blessed I was able to put a few words together to honor my grandfather, words that have been the greatest closure and light I have needed in a time of despair and heartache.
I love you, grandpa!
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
-The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi