Loved one remembered, appreciated for influence

Michelle Mathis and Michelle Mathis

The other morning, I groggily pulled myself out of bed [as I always do— not much of a morning person] and slapped my phone so the loud, blaring alarm would shut up.

I hesitantly secured my footing on my desk from my lofted bed and stepped on a piece of paper, which in turn got stuck to my foot.

Irritated, I pulled it off, then immediately felt a wave of grief. My grandfather’s funeral program had fallen off my corkboard near my desk, an item that is in my line of vision whenever I study there.

Usually when I see my grandfather’s face, I remember the beautiful moments I spent with my family this summer as we pulled even closer in the small city of Price, Utah to celebrate the life of our dear grandfather.

This time, however, I felt a sense of guilt and almost overwhelming gratitude, as if I had an unwavering debt that hadn’t been repaid.

Earlier this week in my Intro to Ethics course, we discussed “moral exemplars” and how we base our morality on the life of someone we admire and look up to.

When we split into discussion in recitation, I was eager to say that my moral exemplar was my grandfather.

My grandfather was an extraordinary man, with an emphasis on the extra. He worked tirelessly his whole life so that all his money would be given away to his children and his children’s children.

I didn’t quite understand it when he was living, but my grandfather had set up college funds for his grandchildren when we were little, so that if we needed to, we would be set to further our education.

Upon nearing the days of his funeral, multiple people came forward and said that my grandfather had given them second chances at life, for he was a juvenile delinquent judge and often gave his cases the option of entering the military instead of going to jail.

Others came forward and confessed that my grandfather paid for their missions, as he was a dedicated member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who felt that spreading God’s word and love was one of the most important things in life, following family.

He was and is the most selfless man I have ever met.

How grateful I am to be in a position of agency where I have the means of attending school, almost financially independent because of one man.

How lucky I am to have a family stronger than steel because one man deemed it important enough to know that even if distance separates our family, it is imperative to love one another fiercely and often.

There is a quote printed on his program by George Eliot that reads, “What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for others?”

It seems like the perfect quote to describe a seemingly perfect man.

I know I have been quiet about your passing, Grandpa, but this is my dedication to you.

Thank you for everything good. I love you. Rest in peace.

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