Sunday, October 14, 2012

Letter to my Grandpa

Thomas Harold Garner, - July 4, 1930 to October 14, 2012

Dear Grandpa,

You finished your time with us earlier this afternoon. I'm sure there were many people waiting to greet you! It must have been a fantastic time to meet family and friends that went ahead of you. I'm sure you visited your still-mortal family as well...taking care of Grandma, first and foremost, then visiting your children. If you got around to visiting your grandchildren (and there are a lot!) you would have found the Bryan & Aisling Wilson's happily preparing chicken and potatoes for diner with another family and found 2-yr old Carter playing with a big pink balloon around the house.  Nothing extraordinary. A typical Sunday afternoon. A scene of peace and simple pleasures. And I think that would have made you happy.

Grandpa, you have always been a simple person. The very best of the simple, unextravagant, down to earth kind of people there are. You find joy in simple things of the day that most people now seem to brush aside. Things like planting a garden, giving someone a ride, cutting down a tree, mailing letters, having guests over, cooking okra  all become noteworthy events to share with those you love. And they weren't just worthy of a few lines either; I've never known someone to write so much about just making a cutting boards for their grandchildren! But that was an example to me to treasure each moment of life. President Uchtdorf said in his last conference address:
We shouldn't wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”
This was the life I saw you live, and I am forever grateful for it!

 I think what made each moment special were the people involved, whether they were family, friends and neighbors, or strangers. You always mentioned people by name, because these were people that you cared about and you understood the beauty of lives intertwined by daily interactions and just living. I need to change my perspective in this way.

I just wanted to share a few memories that I have of you that have influenced me for good:

  • Gratitude: When you were visiting us in Orem, you always shared a sincere "thank you" for staying in my bedroom while I slept on the couch.
  • Genuine Interest: You saw a large spider web in the trees behind your house, took a picture, and mailed it to me, because you knew I was a little explorer and would have enjoyed seeing it.
  • Faith: When Kara and I were visiting, you told us "I like to read my scriptures in the morning. The day just seem to go better that way."
  • Ingenuity: You shared an old advertisement with me of a John Deer tractor with angled wheels. You explained that you were a principle researcher to identify the best wheel angle to mechanically compress the seeds laterally, encouraging optimum growth. I was so proud of you!
  • Care: Referring to a faculty member I worked with at BYU, you frequently asked me "Do you know Brett Borup? How's he doing? We served together in the church at Clemson. Please say hello for me."
  • Praise: You saw a picture I drew in Junior High of some squirrel statuettes and a couple leaves. You thought it was magnificent and let me know it. 
  • Cheerfulness: For years we had a voice message of you on our answering machine saying an enthusiastic "Hello!" It made us all smile every time we heard it.
  • Worthiness: Mom and Dad were planning a vacation in Utah and were considering seeing a play with you and Grandma. Mom knew that you would be uncomfortable watching anything with off-color humor or themes. You wouldn't compromise your standards, especially as an ordained patriarch.
  • Thrift: The Wilson kids put together a photo book of our family online and printed you a copy. It turned out so well that you apparently worried it was a little extravagant and too much. Don't worry Grandpa, it really wasn't expensive!
I have always looked up to you. You make me want to be a better person. I love you very much! And though I'm sure you knew certainly doesn't hurt to say it. I miss you already, but ironically, you're actually closer to us now than before. I feel I have one more angel now to help me through life. 

Love you always Grandpa,

-Bryan Thomas

P.S. More pictures of Grandpa in the web albums.


1voice said...

Bryan, thanks for recording your thoughts here. I have such an unreliable memory. It is hard for me to retrieve anything, so thanks for the reminders. Love you! Mom

Kara said...

Thanks Bryan.

I also specifically remember Grandpa's comments about scripture study when we visited. It was such a simple thing, but I think it reflects how worthiness and filling his patriarchal role in our family brought power to his priesthood and the Holy Ghost carried his simple but deliberate words (and example) into our hearts.

I also remember receiving a package from Grandpa when we were young that had cotton at all its different stages with a letter explaining how it grows. I'm sure a similar package was prepared for each family.

When I went to Israel, he was anxious that I meet with a former colleague of his in Haifa. The BYU program schedule did not line-up so that we could meet, but I'm sure his colleague was touched that Grandpa would think to reach out to him.

He understood the power of working together. We all remember working with Grandpa or Grandma on a "project" whenever we were together. Whether it was painting, gardening, repairing something or pulling barbed wire from the back woods. He knew working together was more important than sight seeing or spending the day relaxing.

Finally, I will always remember when just our family visited Grandma and Grandpa's home in Seneca and he said family prayer with us before we left. He mentioned each of the many Wilson children by name and prayed for what he felt we needed most individually. It was a powerful prayer and I knew he was sincerely concerned for each of us.

leslie the licorice stick lady said...

What a well, thought-out and written tribute to Grandpa. I didn't know him on the level that all the Wilson siblings did, but I did know him enough to know what a great, worthy and sweet man he was. You hit it right on the nail, Bryan! Thanks for posting this.

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