On Tuesday, January 26th, 2016, at straight-up 1:00am, my grandfather John P. Meyer passed away, surrounded by loved ones. In those final moments I was fortunate to be holding his hand as he passed on to the next world, and the following reflections poured over me. In short, what follows is my tribute to an ordinary man and my hero: Grandpa John.
At times like these we are often hopeless, looking for ways to understand something that perhaps we as humans are not meant to understand, namely, death. Yet, it exists all around us, embedded in the very laws of nature, in the cycle that is life.
I have been thinking a lot about my grandpa’s skills and abilities, as well as his qualities and characteristics. And, by all accounts, he was an ordinary man. For example:
- He served in the military
- He started a small business
- He raised a family
- He was a church going man
The list could go on and on. But, from what I have been told, the abovementioned were common among folks in his generation. However, if you look more closely, you begin to see how the actions of this ordinary man were extraordinary:
- He left the house at a very early age, and was drafted into the military. And, while in the military, he told me that he would send a good percentage, if not all, of his war wages back home for his mom and family. He later returned from overseas having served his country honorably and was a decorated soldier, awarded a Purple Heart.
- He started two service station business in Fargo, ND, and not only became a trainer/dealer, but was recognized as one of ten operators, from an organization of over 33,000, as an Outstanding Standard Oil Dealer.
- I am biased about this next one, but he raised amazing children, grand-children, and great-grand-children.
- Remember the “church going man”, well, he attended daily mass EVERY DAY for as long as I can remember. Every. Day.
You see, my grandfather would always choose the most meritorious option. For example, I would not be surprised if when he loaned money to someone he would loan it to them without a fee, even when the going interest rate was 5%. I also remember a story he once told me about a few kids from the orphanage (that was located across the street from one of his service stations) who happened to take some cash from his till. When they later returned the money, at the request of the orphanage, he thanked them for their honesty and, while looking them in the eyes, said, “I think you forgot something” and proceeded to give each of them a piece of candy.
Which left me wondering…why? Why go the extra mile? And in answering this question is where I saw my grandfather go from an ordinary man doing extraordinary things to one of my heroes.
You see, I believe the abundance of God’s bounties are great. So great that the abundance of such bounties are the very cause of our neglect and lack of awareness of them. Yet, somehow, my grandpa managed to always count his blessings, seldom, if-ever, taking for granted the bounties afforded to him. This living testament to his faith was seen in his every deed as he always strove to take that which was revealed to him and put it into action. It was for this reason that his love knew no bounds or conditions. In short, my grandpa’s “secret sauce”, so-to-speak, was his ability to see the blessings that surrounded him and, therefore, act as a channel for God’s grace. He saw everyone and everything as blessings from God.
So, back to that fateful day in January, while I held his hand. All I could think about were the countless ideas, definitions, and understandings of life after death. I personally tend to gravitate towards and appreciate the following:
The light which these souls [those who have passed] radiate is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples. They are like unto leaven which leaveneth the world of being, and constitute the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest. Through them the clouds rain their bounty upon men, and the earth bringeth forth its fruits…. These souls and symbols of detachment have provided, and will continue to provide, the supreme moving impulse in the world of being. The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother. When the soul attaineth the Presence of God, it will assume the form that best befitteth its immortality and is worthy of its celestial habitation.
~Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings LXXXI
[For] when [the soul] leaveth the body… it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal. Every pure, every refined and sanctified soul will be endowed with tremendous power, and shall rejoice with exceeding gladness.
~Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings LXXX
In the end, I am hopeful. In his earthly passing there is a new life, a new purpose, and an additional abundance of blessings being released as we speak. I ask myself, if he was able to accomplish “hero status” in this earthly life, what then awaits him in the next? He would always say to me, “Adam, you seem to be making out like a tall dog in short grass.” So, these days, I turn and find myself asking him, “Now who is the one making out like a tall dog in short grass Grandpa?”
Verily, we are God’s, and to Him shall we return.
~Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings CLXV
Forever grateful for my hero.