Tougher days to come, to be sure.
In honor of my father's birthday, and because I know he would be so proud of the Hero. And I only single out the Hero because my mother asked him to do the eulogy. And in all fairness, they shared the common bond and brotherhood of being firefighters, and we had lived with my parents for quite some time before the next grandson fell from heaven. So, when he stood up in that log-church on the day of my father's memorial, the Hero gave a eulogy deeply woven of both the personal and the professional.
If you were there that day to see the Hero in his dress uniform to read his eulogy in that small non-denominational country log-church my father and mother helped raise funds for, help build with their own hands, protect from outside ravages and administrate from the inside all on the side of a mountain in Utah, consider yourself supremely lucky because it is not often the Hero splits himself wide open and bears that much of his heart.
A large part of me views that as the measure of a man, not so much by the buckets of tears he can cry, but by his ability to walk up an ambo and stand tall at a pulpit and ask for a moment to dry his eyes and gather his thoughts and speak loudly enough for everyone to hear his voice crack and see his tears spill and feel his heart ache; still, as stoically as possible, tell his personal heartfelt truth held deep within himself and round it off with...
Well, I don't want to spoil the ending ; ) read on...
My grandfather, Don to most friends, Dee to his immediate family, although my grandmother was NEVER allowed to call him that, and Grandpa to my three cousins and myself was born in Elmira, New York.
At age 13, Grandpa's family moved from upstate New York to California.
My grandpa attended and graduated from Arroyo High School in El Monte, California. It was there that my grandmother, asked my grandfather out on a date--she was 14 and he was 17-years old. Grandma was offered Grandpa's name as an option for an upcoming Sadie Hawkin's Dance because she had been told he thought she was cute. Grandma obtained his phone number than she was voice-to-voice with the boy--man--who would become the love of her life.
A love affair that would last nearly 60 years.
Because my grandfather had suffered a significant back injury playing football his senior year, and also being the last surviving male in his family, he was ineligible and excluded from the draft and military service. Even though he did not serve, it is only fitting we should sit here today memorializing my grandfather on Veteran's Day as he had such a huge respect for all men and women of military service.
On a light drizzly day in September 1961, my grandfather married my grandmother and he went to work for Southern California Edison. Soon after in 1962, their first daughter, Darya was born and my grandpa pursued his lifelong career goal of becoming a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy. Again, soon after in 1965, there would be another daughter, my aunt.
And life was good for a very long time.
As an avid outdoorsman and hunter, and because a good job waited at the end of a long highway, Grandpa moved his family from Southern California to a small town in Utah called, Alpine. He built his home on a beautiful plot of land that looked out onto Mount Timpanogos in Utah's Wasatch Mountain Range, and there he was able to hunt and fish and shoot. And as fate often comes into play, the time spent many years ago learning how to dove and grouse and quail hunt was put to good use. His first year deer hunting he shot a trophy-worthy buck that I looked at as a young boy, and I have heard stories of the vegetable garden Grandma hand-troweled and planted from seed so they could feed their family in that last lean Utah year.
There was a move back to California and that buck hung on the wall in the dining room in Fountain Valley for many years. But, by 2006 Grandpa had moved with Grandma up to the log cabin on the side of a mountain of their dreams.
There were many, MANY, repairs done to that cabin and it went from a log cabin to a beautiful log home and finally it fulfilled their shared dream of retirement.
For 11 years, while Grandpa worked on that cabin, he became embedded in the community of Duck Creek Village helping to physically build the church we sit in today. He also became a volunteer fireman retiring as Deputy Chief of the Cedar Mountain Fire Protection District.
And as a personal aside, I would just like to thank all the men and women of the CMFPD family. You truly gave my grandfather some of the happiest and most fulfilling years of his life. Thank you.
Only as recently as July, did Grandpa and Grandma decide to "move off the mountain". Unfortunately, my grandfather, did not know one healthy day in his new home. What he did know was the immense friendship and unwavering respect and companionship of his "mountain friends" and family.
Today, I believe he knows that his friends adored and respected him; that his daughters loved him like only daughters can; he showed his 3 grandsons, including myself what it is to be a man's man. And his 1 and only grand-daughter knows what it is to be loved by a man that hung the moon just for her.
PS - The strength and maturity and guidance the Hero extended to my mother, my sister and myself throughout this entire ordeal was extraordinary and beyond gratifying and amazing. He helped us to allow Momma the luxury to love on Daddy in those last few hours, while Sister and I did the "heavy lifting". Clearly, this is a debt I will spend a lifetime repaying to my own son and his wife.
Well done, Son, well done <3