Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Christian Gentleman"

At Grandpa's Williamsburg Memorial Service he was eulogized by his former pastor and longtime friend as a rare breed of Christian Gentlemen. His surviving family, sitting in the front row, felt honored by that expression. He and my grandmother left on this earth what my mother calls an "aroma" that we should all hope to leave behind at our own earthly departures. Here, for prosperity's sake, are the words I spoke aloud about Grandpa, in the past three weeks.

At the Memorial Service in Williamsburg I read:
My grandfather lived a very good life.  He was a soldier and an honorable man.  He was quick to forgive, and never spoke an unkind word.  My sister and I agree that we couldn’t have had a more decent, patient and faithful grandfather.  He was loving in a masculine and silent way, never raising his voice, though firm with us exactly when we needed it.  I dare say there was a time or two when he patiently took me aside for some one-on-one time and even guided me to the Psalms to line me back up.  He was strong, brave, handsome and warm.  People loved my grandpa everywhere he went—he was just admirable.  He was a dear friend to so many, and so easy and enjoyable to be with.  He genuinely cared about people and their well-being.  In fact, I spoke with him on the phone briefly the day before he died and even in our short conversation he asked about Tom, about our job search situation, and about his great grandchildren although he was experiencing great pain at the time. I think he would be quite pleased to know we are settled, finally, as we prepare to move in only two weeks to Tom's new job.

Truly, it was hard to find any fault in him.  As a child I remember thinking he was the closest to Jesus anyone could get.  As I matured I learned more of his human nature, but always I knew he was unique; Outstanding; Amazing.  Frankly, I do not know what my life will be like without him, and feel so very honored and blessed that we lived just one hour south of him for these past 6 years.  I thank God that Logan got to have a grounded relationship with him—that has been a good start to his life.  I am so grateful that Teagan was born just hours before his 88th birthday so that we could bring her to him for his birthday, right from the hospital.

In addition, Grandpa was very well-educated, well-read (he devoured historical novels) and intelligent with an amusing sense of humor & a broad vocabulary.  He aced Reader’s Digest’s Word Power every month and challenged us to do the same.  When we were dilly dallying as children and telling him to wait for us he’d always call up. “Weight’s what broke the wagon down!”  That expression makes me chuckle even now.  And my high school yearbook quote was from my grandpa: “’I can’t’ never did anything.”  That’s just exactly who he was—a realistic optimist.  Solid.

A wonderful man has left this world with a large gaping hole in it.  People like my grandparents are so very rare these days.  I will try, henceforth, to model my future after their example and improve on myself.  I will try now to teach Logan & Teagan to understand the heritage they have inherited by being Smiths and Goulds.  Accepting others.  Loving God.  Cherishing family.  Is there anything better?
AND AT HIS FUNERAL IN MICHIGAN, I read aloud the last letter he received from me, while he was awaiting surgery at Cleveland Clinic--one week before he died:

(On the envelope flap):

Isaiah 41:10 & 13 (NIV*)
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

13 For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

When the father holds your hand, you have peace in every circumstance.

(Inside, a card, with the following words by author Max Lucado):
God is the SHEPHERD who GUIDES,
the VOICE who brings PEACE in the storm,
the PHYSICIAN who HEALS the sick, and
the BANNER that GUIDES the soldier.

Whatever you need--HE IS.

Praying for you.

(And then, in my own hand):
Dearest Grandpa, Friday, 9-8-06
I am so honored that our Lord, God, chose to bring me into your family and that I have been able to know you and grow close to you for so much of my life. I feel especially thankful to Jesus that my children have been held by your hands and have sat in your lap, and have been able to give you joy, as you lead our family with a strong and steady consistency. In my life, where so many other things got upturned and broken, you and Grandma always remained--loving us without exception or reservation, praying for us, and best of all, believing in us to be our best. I think that is, by far, the best gift I could have ever received from you--an uplifting, lighthearted, joyous and POSITIVE approach to life.
I feel like a person who can do anything I set my heart and mind to because of the optimism you always taught us. It is exactly what I expect of you that you would choose, now, to fight for your life with all that is in you--because you have never been a person to give up, to quit, to throw in the towel!
Tom and I are praying for you, even with his mom and family, that this surgery (-ies) would restore you to health so that we might continue in a loving, lasting relationship with you for a decade more to come. Believing in the best, I believe God will orchestrate the physician's every move, as our God is the GREAT PHYSICIAN, Himself. I pray that you feel comfortable in knowing that you have lived a good life, deserving of high praise. From your son, your daughter, your grand and great grandchildren--and most of all, from the God Most High who smiles with every thought of you.
I'm smiling now, too! "Be anxious for nothing, but in all things, with thanksgiving, in prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God, and the peace of God, that passes all understanding, will keep your heart and mind on Christ Jesus" <--memorized that in 1980, at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church!
I love you. Get well soon. Love, Lisa
Comments on the issue of healing: there is more than one way to find healing. We wanted him for ourselves, but God gave him the best healing possible--a release to dwell in heaven.

And, to correctly quote my poorly memorized scriptural excerpt from my first Bible, given to me while we lived in Williamsburg, [Philippians 4:5-7 (NASB**)]:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

For the record, here is Grandpa's obituary, printed in Williamsburg:
(Click on blog entry title at top for Grandpa's online obituary guestbook)

Lawrence ________.
WILLIAMSBURG - Lawrence ______. of Williamsburg, born Dec. 7, 1917, left this earth to be with his Lord and Savior on Monday, Sept. 25, 2006, after complications from heart surgery. He was 88 years old. People often said that Lawrence (Larry) was the kindest gentleman that they'd ever met. His character was the reflection of peacefulness derived from his deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ. A humble man from modest beginnings, Larry utilized his gifts and maximized his opportunities, but never at the expense of others. Dubbed 'Silo' _____, Larry attended Hillsdale College on a basketball scholarship, where he earned his BA, was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, and most importantly, met his future wife, Anne ____. Working his way through school, Larry went on to earn his MBA from the University of Michigan. Larry served for 3 1/2 years as a First Lieutenant in the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army Air Corps, participating in the World War II invasion of Europe and the liberation of Buchenwald. A 40-year resident of Williamsburg, Lawrence was Comptroller for Dow Badische, and an active member of the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, having served as Elder, Trustee and Treasurer. He was a longtime member of the Middle Plantation Club and of the Christopher Wren Society. Larry also provided volunteer tax counsel to those in need. An avid golfer, Larry relaxed by reading, playing the piano, and bridge. He had a thirst for knowledge, regularly enrolled in continuing education courses at William & Mary College. Larry also enjoyed history and researching genealogy. Devoted husband of the late Anne (nee ____); beloved father and father-in-law of Larry and Linda _____ and Lauri and George _____ of Michigan; cherished grandfather of Lisa _____ (Tom) and Anja _____; dear great-grandfather of Logan and Teagan_____, and loving later-in-life companion to Margaret _____ of Williamsburg. In addition to cousins, nephews and nieces, Lawrence (Larry) is survived by his Aunt, Bettie _____, and brother, Julian (Bud) _____. All who knew this elegant man will miss his presence in their lives. Brave, faithful, and warm, Larry's gentle spirit lives on in the countless lives he touched through his kind actions, quiet faith, and deep love for family and friends. Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 30 at the .... A memorial service, officiated by _____ _____, will be held at ..... at the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, ....

Grandpa was buried with the honoring 21 gun salute, the playing of Taps, and a flag ceremony on Saturday, September 30th, next to his wife of 60 years in a family-rich cemetery.

*New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

No comments: