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.



Evablog said...

Love the hat.

Jayne said...

Beautifully put, Sarah.

Putz said...

i cannot support his nra hat, but i am glad you like himwas a colorful, character

Lucy Stern said...

So sorry for your loss, but you do know the Plan of Salvation and that you will see him again... I love the picture you posted, he looks so loving... Thanks for telling us the story of your grandfather... He sounds like a wonderful man...