Thursday, June 21, 2012

Grandpa Thomas

Josh's grandfather passed away on Tuesday and his mission president encouraged him to write something about him that could be shared with other family members.  We felt that his message was applicable for all and we hope you enjoy it.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Grandpa Thomas is stories. Without fail, each time that we visited he always had a story for whatever topic we were discussing. Every single visit revealed another crazy childhood adventure, and who could forget the stories of my dad as a kid. Grandpa always had a way of bringing a smile through his willingness to share his life with others. I attribute this to the fact that he lived a life that saw a plethora of experiences, each contributing to the man that we all knew. We all loved him, and we will all miss him, but we must remember that love is the cause of our sorrow, because it is impossible to remove the sorrow from death without removing the love from life. The death of one we love serves as a reminder of the importance of every moment in life, for we do not know our appointed time, thereby making it neccesary to make every day count. (See Hebrews 9:27) My experience with Grandpa Thomas taught me this principle well - I will forever remember and charish all of the stops at Mama Petrillo's for some pizza and salad, going to Dodger's Baseball games, trips to the zoo, and time spent building relationships of love and trust by sharing in each other's experiences.
Herein lies the miracle of our Savior's sacrifice on Calvary - through his atonement, we can rest assured that this life is but a small moment in comparison to the eternities, that the seperation before us is temporary, and that the reunion on the other side is an eternal one. Elder Richard G. Scott has taught that "We can strengthen our relationship with the departed individual we love by recognizing that the separation is temporary and that covenants made in the temple are eternal." Having made the sacred covenants neccesary to see this promised reunion occur with his wife Jaydene and his family, and having done what is required of him here, we can find peace and reassurence in the fact that Grandpa Thomas is at rest in the life beyond this. 1 Corinthians 15:22 tells us that in Christ all will be made alive. Grandpa Thomas "[ran] with patience the race that [was] set before [him], looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith," (Hebrews 12:1-2) and because of that we can know that he is happy on the other side, rooting for our success.
Towards the end of his life Grandpa Thomas faced many health challenges, which caused him much difficulty and suffering throughout his daily life. Despite all of this, he continued pressing on. He was a shining example of one who endured to the end. The scriptures promise us that those who do so will "be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb." (1 Nephi 13:37) What a beautiful thought! It is my testimony that this promise is true, that those who follow Christ and endure well the race of life will find peace and everlasting joy in the kingdom of our Father in Heaven. Because our Heavenly Father loves us so much, he gave us a plan whereby we can be saved, and it is only through our Savior that this plan could lovingly be brought to pass.
The passing of a loved one always brings sorrow, but that sorrow can be replaced with joy as we come to understand more fully Christ's Atonement and our Father's grand plan of happiness. I testify that Christ did suffer for each of us individually, and that his selfless sacrifice encompasses all of our pains and sorrows. As we turn to him who knows us best, we will find an emotional burden and weight lifted, to be replaced with faith and hope. Grandma, I know that Grandpa loved you more than he led on. He would put up with a lot from us kids, but he would never allow any disrespect for you. Ever. You were his princess, his fairy tale ending. Never forget that our Savior loves you, and that he loves all the same. I know that as we follow Christ we can find peace and joy once again, if we but have faith in him. As the hymn so beautifully states,
He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessings to impart.
Through Him, the pain of loss can be replaced with a fullness of joy. He lives and cares about us. We only need turn to him, for "his hand is stretched out still." (2 Nephi 19: 12,17, 21)

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