Dec 31, 2011

A granddaughter's Eulogy

I know lots of people will be relating experiences and memories today. My mother and her brother wrote a lovely obituary. I helped with some comma placement, so I got to read it.

I am not sure I want to stand up and say much today. I feel like it would sort of be self-aggrandizing to get up when there are others who know him better in a different capacity than just grandfather.

But let me say that, as a grandfather, Robert William Hartley has had a huge influence on my life. Not just my life, but I'm focusing on mine right now.

Memories of Grandpa include fishing on his pond, learning to survey using tin can lids and a telescope, helping with wood projects, driving his ATV over his hilly ten acre property, loud and sometimes laughingly argumentative conversation around the dinnner table. Grandpa's favorite thing to do when he was around us was to relate funny memories... things we kids did or said that were amusing to him. One of "mine" was when we walked down to the pond one day, and grandpa was getting a boat ready for us to go out on it. On the shore was a pile of wood. Grandpa reached close to it, I think he was grabbing a life jacket, and Carolee (my sister age about 6 at the time) says, very calmly: "Grandpa. There's a snake there."

Grandpa started--it was a baby rattlesnake. He reaches for something--a hoe or board, maybe and I yell hysterically, "grandpa, don't kill it!"

He thought it was hilariuos that care was so calm about finding a rattlesnake and I was worried about its health.

I will say that the thing about Grandpa that most affected me was just him. He was a perfectionist. His handwriting was square and precise, he measured things with slide rules and any project he took on was apt to have perfectly squared edges and perfectly trimmed hedges. I did not inherrit this quality from him.

It might be part of a larger piece of his personality... a telling thing about him, this perfectionism. You see, grandpa grew up in a turbulent chaotic sort of household. His father, William (also known as "wild Bill") started out life as a rich rancher's son and ended impoverished and addicted to some unhealthy things. His mother wasn't around much. He was raised by Myrtle, his aunt, and by his grandparents. And he made some choices about his life... he wasn't a teetotaler, but he rarely drank. He never gambled. He worked hard and had very stark ideas of "right" and "wrong" and every moment he lived was his best attempt to do only what was right and avoid what was wrong. Who knows why he made the choices he did, but I know that these choices led to my mother being in a position to join the LDS church. I know that my mother, while she had some frustrating times as a child (like me, she is not a perfectionist) has a deep-rooted knowledge of morality. Her character had a solid foundation probably from the time she was an infant. My Grandfather, and my Mom (and hopefully, me too) are the kind who do things just because they are right.

I owe my grandfather a debt beyond anything I can probably understand in this life for what he chose and what he did. He was a safety net in that his choices corrected some possible difficulty that could have trickled down through generations. He chose to be that strong link in the chain of generations that President Hinckley has talked about.

When I think of Grandpa I picture him standing at his 6-foot-1 height, his broad shoulders and strong legs. For so long he always defied his age--he worked hard up to the last two months before he died and didn't allow physical difficulty as he aged to discourage him. He was cutting wood with my family at the end of October. In a way it is a blessing he passed so quickly and didn't have to be in a vulnerable physical state for long, because it wasn't soemthing he ever liked--being vulnerable.

My grandfather's smile is always a little sarcastic, always a little cynical, but there is great warmth there that none of his grandchildren ever missed. We have always respected and loved our Grandpa Bob and his character has flavored our childhood memories. For most of our lives we visited about every two weeks. We went over there for birthdays, for Christmas, for Thanksgiving. He came to church any time any of us performed in sacrament meetings. He came to every baptism.

Grandpa was not extended family to me. He was as present and real as either of my parents in my life. He will be missed, but I have no doubt I'll see him again. I'm glad to have had him in my life.

Love you, Grandpa Bob.


Dec 15, 2011

It's been a year...

It is hard to believe that it has been a whole year since the big changes happened for our family. At this time last year, Skywalker was being interviewed for a job. And given an offer. And it was during Christmas Vacation that we came up here to see this windy, snowy little town and sample American Pizza Cafe oreo dessert pizza and tacos from one of the four local taco trucks. When we stayed in the inn that Jeff and I both look at with a measure of fondness every time we drive by. When we tramped through a foot and a half of snow, in and out of apartments, to find a temporary place to put ourselves as we gathered our lives up and... moved on.

I look back on the last year and am so glad we are where we are right now. But I feel a weight of melancholy on me as well... Provo truly is no longer our home. It's where some of our best friends live, where some of the sweetest and most challenging memories are. I still think of Provo as "my city." I think of all that happened to me there as a sort of refiner's fire for my youth, turning me into a real adult. Skywalker, too.

We will be visiting over Christmas break, and I fully expect to have my heart full of some sorrow and some gladness. To see friends again reassures me that friendships last. The tabernacle has been refined as well, by fire, and is going to be a temple.

Things have changed so much in the last year. We've moved. Skywalker has gotten a job of real responsibility, in the venue and atmosphere he has dreamed of, and done well. We've bought a home. We have another baby on the way. We've gotten published. Tragedy has touched some of our friends lives--children lost, marriages lost, spouses lost. A longtime family friend and mentor ended his own life. My grandpa is dying of cancer. Our friends just got some bad news. Or illuminating news... or just news... depends on how you look at it.

The other day, our family drove back from the "city" with a trunkful of groceries and a car full of irritable, weepy children to find several dark hooded people darting around our front door. Seeing our headlights, they immediately fled to a mysterious maroon minivan, leaving a bewildered toddler on our front porch. After several seconds wherein Skywralke and I watched, stifling our laughter, one of them crept from the van, snatched the toddler and ran back. The driver's side door opened, and an ominous figure approached us.
"It was supposed to be a surprise," Brother Hunter said.
We found green and red hearts plastered all over our door. It's good to know that our new neighbors like us--especially the ones we want to like us.

Sometimes I wonder if Heavenly Father is easy on us in our youth (or, easy on some of us, I should say. I know people who have had stunning trials hit them for the entirety of their lives.) What I mean is, life suddenly feels substantial... I feel myself getting older and things feel more real. I have a sense of heaviness--real responsibility. And real things happen. They touch me. Life isn't always nice to us, sometimes it is hard. But life also provides stunning, very real blessings.

I look back on the last year and feel a roil of confusion but also a warmth of gratefulness... that Heavenly Father guides our paths and knows what will make us into the people that we have the potential to become. He knows, in the end, what will make us happiest and what really matters.

And in the end, fear has no place in the gospel. Worry, concern, all of that... sometimes it's productive and we need to heed it, but fear doesn't stand in the face of faith. I'm a grown-up now. I can say that without blushing, without worrying that people might chuckle at me. Not so long ago, I cringed at the thought of calling myself a woman.

I'm a woman, a wife, a mother, and a cultivator of a family. My children, husband and I make up something substantial--something more together than we are apart. Life is happening, faster than I can really comprehend sometimes.

And I'm grateful for all of it.