I lived in the same city as my paternal grandparents for about fifteen or so years of my life, and so I was able to see them quite frequently. Here are some general facts about my grandpa:
He was born in Cedar City, Utah
He attended college in Cedar City, Utah
He was a Mormon Missionary in England in the early 1930s
He served in World War II as a clerk-typist (more on that below)
He owned an insurance and realty business
He became a widower at relatively young age, when he had three little girls and three little boys
He later remarried and had another little boy
He and his wife served an LDS mission in San Jose, California in the early 1990s
He developed cancer, but fought it very successfully for quite a few years (like 5-10)
He eventually passed away, not from cancer, but just from his body being old and worn out
Now, for a few more details:
When my grandfather was drafted into the war, he had three children at home. When he got the notice, one of his daughters was sick, and his aging father-in-law was living with them for what would turn out to be that last few weeks of his life. He didn't feel like it was a good time for him to tell his wife, and so he carried the draft notice around in his coat pocket for three days before he finally told her.
After basic training but before he was shipped out to Hawaii (where he ended up spending most of his war experience), my grandfather was processed in Camp Beal, California. There he was put through a physical examination, and one of the examining physicians found a heart murmur that my grandfather had had ever since he had been a young boy. My grandfather tried to tell the physician that the murmur was nothing, that he had had it for years and that it had not impeded him at all, but the physician didn't listen to him, and he was eventually sent to a cardiac ward of a large army hospital. While my grandfather was there, most of his company shipped out to Europe, and many of those men ended up fighting (and dying) in the Battle of the Bulge.
I think about that sometimes. My father was born after World War II, and so if my grandfather had shipped out in that company, I might have ended up being born into a very different family than I was. For his part, my grandfather was always convinced that he was kept out of Europe because of (as he put it) "the overruling hand of divine Providence."
I have lots of memories of the time I spent with my grandfather, but I'll just share one, and then that will be it for this post.
About two years before my grandfather passed away, I had a conversation with him that I hope I never forget. I'd been home from my mission for about six months, and I was having a tough time of it. Upon coming home, I had immediately moved six hours away from my family, (where I knew almost no one), enrolled in graduate level accounting courses, (although I hadn't even thought about accounting once in a year and a half) and was trying to figure out where I fit into the world. It was a hard adjustment to say the least, and I was feeling lost, alone, unsure of my future, and scared.
Around this time, I went to Cedar City to spend my two-week summer break with my family. While there, I decided to drop in and visit my grandparents. When I arrived at the house, my grandmother was out running errands, but my grandfather was there, so we had a little visit. By then my grandfather was mostly blind, a little forgetful, and didn't get around too much. In spite of all of this, he still had a lot of wisdom, and he hadn't lost a bit of his extra kind soul. As we got talking about this and that, my grandfather started reminiscing about some of his experiences, and the twists and turns that had come through his life, some of them good, and some of them really terribly difficult. And then, he said something that I still repeat to myself when things get hard. It's not rocket science, but it's definitely comforting, and I definitely believe it.
This was not the first time I'd heard that statement. It was (and continues to be) a favorite saying of my father, and I'd even heard it from my grandpa before this time. But this time was special to me, and it's almost like I believed it more. I felt inside of me that he was right, and that I could depend upon what he was saying. So I trusted him, and I kept at it.
So far, he's been completely, totally, 100% right.