I've written this beginning several times, in different ways and I just can't find a way to ease into sharing that my Grandpa died. So, I will just put it out there; my Grandpa died. It wasn't sudden, he would've turned 99 years old last Friday. We had his memorial service on Saturday. Over the last week, I've been helping my dad with a few things to prepare and I was fine, well until Wednesday night. That's when a cloud of gloom came in and hung out. As Saturday approached, the cloud got even gloomier. Saturday arrived and, for real, I was feeling it. The Hubs tried to prepare me for it, since he already experienced breaking down at his Mom's memorial service a few years ago and he's so not emotional, like practically dead inside really (just kidding babe).
The second I saw the military guards arrive in uniform, it got real. Really real.
If my Grandpa had an IMDB profile, it would say something like, "Born in Legazpi City, Philippines, married to Carmen Vargas who he had 7 children with. Was later a widower and married Remi much later in life. He served the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFE) from 1936 to 1945, with Philippine Scout Detachment, Philippine Ground Force Command, Army of the United States, ending up with a rank of M/Sgt. Served under Gen. D. McArthur at Fort McKinley and the last stand at Corregidor Islands. He was with Gen. J. Wainwright at the Death March in Bataan after the Allied surrender to the Japanese. Upon release from the prison camp, he joined the Philippine Guerrilla until the Liberation. He then got his Electrical Engineering degree while working for the U.S. Information Service (USIS). He went home to Albay, Philippines where he became a Math teacher, High School Principal, and Athletic Coach. He was in various positions since until he retired."
Sounds like a pretty fly guy huh? He was. That's not how I knew him though. I knew that at the Death March of Bataan, they thought he was dead and placed his body in the death pile. A soldier was walking by and happen to see him twitch and they pulled him out of there.
Then, his life happened. The life he led was how I knew him. Check out blips of his life here.
While I was figuring out which memories to share at his service, a few came to mind. Like the time he got the Circuit City employee to come to his apartment to hook up his surround sound with the bass speaker under his rocking chair. He was so excited to show that off.
There was a time not too long ago that he was hospitalized and he had to wait before drinking water. He was so thirsty and we couldn't do anything about it. Finally, he told my brother he was going to shave and demanded that my brother bring him his razor and a cup of water.
There were all the times when the Boy was little and he would go into Grandpa's room to watch tv and tell him stories for hours until Grandpa would kick him out so he can take a nap.
Then I thought, if those attending the service didn't know my Grandpa very well or if they had never even met him, these memories don't really show who he was. These are just a few pages in his story. I wanted people to leave knowing the moral of the story. So, that's what I shared on Saturday and what I want to share with you all today, the lesson I learned from my Grandpa's story.
American poet Diane Ackerman said, "I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well."
A few years ago, my husband's niece, Shelbi, had a college assignment and asked to interview Grandpa so we went. Because Grandpa didn't say much during visits, I didn't know what would happen and really had no expectations. That afternoon Shelbi wasn't the only one who walked away enlightened.
Grandpa talked about the time when he was in the army and his face beamed with joy when he talked about how all the guys were too shy to dance, so he had to dance with all the ladies, how fun it was to caddy for high ranking officers on Saturday morning golf games which made the week fly by, how he would hang out with the fellas all night just laughing and how important it was to get up each day with a smile. He didn't want to talk about firing guns or the fighting, only the laughter and fun that was had.
Proverbs 17:22 says, "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
There's no hint of a crushed spirit in Grandpa's story. He not only lived the length of his life, but lived the width of it as well and he did that with his joyful heart.