Our next door neighbor passed away last Friday, so we have had a rather emotional week. He was like another grandpa to my girls...he let them help plant and harvest his garden, came over regularly for pizza and movies with Greg and the girls when I was at Mutual, took us to the Church Museum, had us over for barbecues, let the girls not just see, but run his amazing model train setup in his basement, let the girls feed the fish in his aquarium, had combined family home evenings with our family, helped us with our yard (and pulled countless loads to the dump in his truck and trailer, which always included a trip to Paces for rainbows on the way home), attended Becca's Baptism, and just loved us like family.
We were so fortunate to be able to have some of the grandkids come to our house to play when the kids came to visit/help, and it was a real blessing for us to be able to be of service to their family in some small way.
Yesterday was the funeral and we let our kids come with us. There are few funerals outside of family that I would take the girls to see, but this was one exception.
The funeral was very nice. All of the children spoke & the oldest grandchild from each of his children briefly told their favorite memories of their grandpa. I think my favorite quote from one of the granddaughters was, "even though my grandpa only had one arm, that didn't stop him from giving great hugs."
Our former Stake President (under whom he served) also spoke. He read the section of President Eyring's talk that spoke about my neighbor, prefacing it with "I know if President Eyring could be here, he would."
I don't think I can express any better than President Eyring what a great man he was, so to close this post, here is the quote from General Conference that had to do with my neighbor:
This is the Lord’s Church. He called us and trusted us even in the weaknesses He knew we had. He knew the trials we would face. By faithful service and through His Atonement, we can come to want what He wants and be what we must be to bless those we serve for Him. As we serve Him long enough and with diligence, we will be changed. We can become ever more like Him.
I have seen evidence of that miracle in the lives of His servants. I saw it a few weeks ago in the living room of a faithful priesthood holder.
I had known him as a deacon, a father, a bishop, and a member of a stake presidency. I had observed for decades his diligence in serving God’s children with his priesthood.
His family was gathered around him in his living room. He was smiling, dressed in a white shirt, suit, and tie. I was surprised, since I was there because I had been told that he was in the midst of painful medical treatments that had not yet cured him.
Yet he had greeted me as he must have greeted hundreds of other visitors over a lifetime of priesthood service, smiling. I had come to help him in the trials he faced, but as so often happens in priesthood service, I was helped and I learned.
We sat and chatted pleasantly. He told me how his father had tended to my mother as she approached death. I had not known that. I realized then that he had learned as a boy from his diligent priesthood father how to give succor. That thought made me grateful for the times I had taken my little boys with me on priesthood visits to comfort and bless.
After a few minutes, he asked quietly, “Would it be appropriate to ask if you could give me a blessing?” His former stake president, with whom he had served for years, anointed his head with oil consecrated by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
As I sealed the blessing, I was taught by the Holy Ghost at least part of what the Lord had already done for this faithful priesthood holder. He was clean, his sins washed away. His nature had been changed to want what the Savior wanted. He had no fear of death. The desire of his heart was to live to give service to his family and to others of Heavenly Father’s children who needed him.
I walked out into the night grateful to have witnessed the Lord’s kindness to His unfailingly diligent priesthood servants. He changes their hearts to want what He wants and to act as He would act.
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