Being one of the younger grandchildren means the my memories of grandpa without his memory loss are limited and the memories of him I have of him are different than what they may have been in his earlier years. Some of the things I remember the most from when I was younger was how much he loved us as his grandchildren. He was always so happy to see us and always expressed his love for us by giving us nosies before we would leave. I remember when my family lived with him that every Wednesday he would make pancakes and eggs for us which I always looked forward to.
As I got older much of that stopped because of his memory loss, however the memories I have of the time after that are still good and will always be precious to me. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to live with he and grandma the last two years before my mission and for the time I got to spend with them.
Living with a man who had lost his mind definitely leads to some interesting moments. One of my favorite things that always made me smile was that because he couldn't remember a lot of things he got to have a lot of "first times" over and over again. Whenever I would make something for dinner he would usually exclaim "I have never had this before. You're a good cookie! Some man will be very lucky to have you." or something along that line.
Even though he couldn't remember a lot of the time I could always tell when he was in a phase where he could remember because of the little jokes he made. I can't imagine how hard it would be to lose your memory but when he was himself he always had a good attitude about it. During these moments he would say something that someone without a memory would say, with a very serious face, and then he would crack a wicked little grin and then walk away. To me that was his way of saying, I know what is going on and I'm going to make the best of it. I always admired that about him.
One of the things I admired the most though about him was how that even when he couldn't remember those things he was still able to manifest the things that mattered the most to him by the habits he had formed and the way he spent his day. His routine was always simple but it was a shining example to me of what I need to always remember in my life. First of all I know he was a man that loved the gospel. Each day I would find him in his chair reading out of the scriptures or some other church related book. Every night we would come together to have family prayer, and every week that he could he would hobble over with Grandma to Sacrament meeting. Even in his old age I knew that God was first in his life.
Another thing I always would find him doing in his chair was reading from the newspaper. Even after having been retired from the education system he was still able to show me how important it is to be educated and informed about the things going on in this world. Grandpa was always reading and was an example to me that I should always be seeking to do the same and learn from the good books that are out there.
Health was another thing that mattered to Grandpa. Almost everyday when the weather was good Grandpa would head out for his daily walk. As he left the house we would be attired in a jacket (even in the dead of summer), his sunglasses, a hat, his cassette player with headphones, and of course his walker. He would then proceed to complete his lap around the church, which might I add usually took him about an hour. That didn't stop him though.
Grandpa was also generous. He would have given money to every single charity that sent something his way had we let him. Anyone that came into his home was well taken care of and new exactly where to find all of the cereal and treats.
Through his actions I also know that he loved his wife. After his meals he would always make sure to wash up his dishes (in unusual ways at times) so that Grandma wouldn't have to. I also remember one time when Grandma was in the hospital he would ask every day where she was and when he would get to see her. There was also one specific time when he got left behind and boy was he fit to be tied!
He was also thoughtful and every time I left for the day he would ask me when I would be home so that he could make sure to leave the door unlocked and the porch light on for me if I got home late. On a regular basis he would also ask me things like if I was "in the pink" or "in the green" that day which was his way of asking how I was doing.
Those moments will always be precious to me and I am so grateful to be able to have those memories.
One thing I am also so grateful for during this time is my knowledge of the plan of Salvation. I am so blessed to have the knowledge that this life is not the end. I know that if I continue to live faithfully that I will get the chance to be with him and the rest of my family forever. This however I know would not be possible without my Savior Jesus Christ. As Amulek states in Alma 34, without the atonement of Jesus Christ "all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which is expedient should be made." I can't imagine a life where death was the end. A life where we were doomed to come to earth and form these relationships of love only to have them ripped away from us without the hope of anything else. Through the Atonement though there is hope. A loving Heavenly Father prepared a way so that through faith and repentance we can be encircled "in the arms of safety" we can on day "sit down in [God's] kingdom, to go no more out" and to one day "rest from all of [our] afflictions. I know that those arms of safety are around Grandpa right now and I know that he is finally resting. I also know that one day he will enter into God's Kingdom, no more to go out. Even though I will miss him I find comfort and joy in this knowledge. I find peace in knowing that if I do all that I can in this life to follow Jesus Christ that I will have claim to those same blessings and get to live with him and all of my other family members again.
I want you to know how much I love you and although I am sad I will be missing this time with the family I am grateful I can help bring this message to those who do not have this hope. You are all in my thoughts and prayers this week.