Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My grandfather, a faithful man

This past Sunday as I sat listening to speakers deliver their messages in church, I'm not sure why, but I began to think of my grandfather: Frank Miller.

Grandpa Miller was (obviously) my mom's dad. My earliest memories of him are that of a happy older man who loved his grandchildren and could tickle a child like nobody else I've ever known. I can always remember his smiling face as we drove up to his house (a house he built with his own hands) in Mesa for summer of Christmas vacation. He wasn't a man of many words, but  when he spoke, you knew he meant what he said. He was also a very strong man, having been a carpenter and construction worker by trade for many years. Once I was big enough to shake his hand ("like a man" as he would say) he would grasp my hand and slowly squeeze tighter and with increasing pressure as I would fight against him with all my strength. He always won. I would always tap out, usually with a distinct inability to use my hand for several minutes afterwards. I was at least 27 before I could hold my own against him, not win, mind you, but just not have to give up whimpering in pain. He was nearly 80 at that point. I'm not too proud to say that I didn't care how old he was - it was still one of the proudest moments of my life to realize that I could now shake his hand "like a man".

I remember that he was also a man of abiding faith and deep understanding of the Gospel. In my early 20's I enjoyed a time of intellectually exploring the doctrines of our church. I would spend hours reading different books and exploring doctrine. Occasionally I would think that I had come up with some profound new way of thinking about some subject or other. With new questions rummaging around in my brain and wanting to clarify my thoughts I would go and speak to my grandpa about it. I would spend several minutes expounding on my new way of understanding and the deeper questions it brought to my mind. He would listen patiently, then respond, usually with only one or two sentences. Those few words would immediately sweep away all of my "profound" thoughts and questions with a simple and direct answer that not only answered my questions, but made me wonder how I had been so blind to the simplicity of the answer. I had incidents like this about 5 or 6 times before I finally caught what his real message was: there is no need to explore the depths of intellectual esoterica, the ultimate expression of the Gospel is simple and beautiful and that simplicity and beauty can be the study of a lifetime. He taught me by showing me how to replace my "profound" thoughts with a certitude of the simplicity of the gospel - and I knew he was right not only because of the testimony it built but also because it had been taught to me by a man of faith that I trusted.

My fondest and most precious memories of my grandpa however, have always centered around his example to me of a life well and faithfully lived. When Marci and I were first married we would frequently go to the temple and it seemed that nearly every time we went, no matter when it was, we would see my grandpa there. He was a temple worker, but he spent much more than just his normal shift working there. It was such a joy to see him at the temple and to see his smile and know how happy he was to see his grandson and grand-daughter-in-law at the temple with him. Grandpa died after we had been married for about 5 years, and ever since then I cannot go to the temple without thinking of him and his ever-faithful example. For me, my memories of my grandfather and the temple are inexorably linked together. I feel closer to him there because that was the most meaningful and most lasting memory I have of him - a man of God faithfully serving in the temple that he loved so dearly. His respect and love for the temple were obvious as was his love of serving there.

I am grateful today for the example of my grandfather, because he showed me through his example the kind of example I want to set for my children. I could hope for no greater end than to know that my children would think of me whenever they were doing the work of the Lord.

Thank you grandpa for showing me what it is to live a life of not just enduring to the end, but living with faith, love of family and active service to God for a lifetime.

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