Monday, March 21, 2011
Happy Birthday, Grandpa Davis!
Today was my Grandpa Davis's birthday. He passed away in 2007 while serving as a full-time missionary with my Grandma in Greece. I still think about him a lot. It's amazing what an influence he continues to have in my life, even though he's not physically present.
Grandpa Davis made everything fun. The other day I was remembering how when I was a junior in high school, he was my seminary teacher. He taught us a bunch of silly cheers to help us remember scripture references. He also taught this one really ridiculous cheer that had no meaning, but made him laugh. He would yell, "How many red pencils does a seminary class need?" And we would all yell (or kind of groan, at 6:30 in the morning), "Five."
"How many?" he'd yell.
"Five, five, five!"
It's supposed to sound like you're yelling, "Fight, fight, fight!" kind of like in a traditional sports-type cheer. He thought it was so funny. I bet it was mostly just funny to see a bunch of lifeless and grouchy high schoolers participating in some silly chant like that.
Grandpa really was fun. He'd buy us treats if we were road-tripping, he let me steer the 4-Runner down Ragged Mountain one time when I was little (I was sitting on his lap), he took me to see Ryan Millar (ex-BYU volleyball player who played on the US Olympic team) and asked him to give me an autograph and take a picture with me. He'd stay up late playing games with us and we'd be the "Pillow Bellies" or the "Pillow Heads." He loved to play volleyball. One time our family won a volleyball tournament, and we've never quite been able to pull it off again without him on the team. BYU sports will always remind me of him, because he was the most faithful Cougar fan I've ever met.
I always felt like I had a special relationship with Grandpa--like he took a special interest in me. I wonder if he made a lot of people feel that way. Somehow I always felt like he gave me individualized attention, even when I was a kid and no one else was really paying attention to me. He could look over at me from the other end of the table, and wink, or smile, or roll his eyes and we'd have a little moment, amidst all the busy chatter by all the adults. I always knew he was aware of me.
Something that really inspires me is that somehow he always seemed to think very highly of me. He told our seminary class a story one time about how "one of our family members" was like Nephi (from the Book of Mormon), and when all the other family members were getting whiny and tired in our volleyball match (the championship one I mentioned earlier), "that person" was upbeat and got everyone excited and because of "that person", we came from behind and won the game. Then he told everyone that the person was me. I know that was definitely his spin on the story, probably because I was in the room, and he wanted to make me feel good. But it worked. He was genuine in his efforts to praise and uplift. It never felt phony, even if I sometimes felt he overestimated my good qualities. Even now, I often re-read the letter he wrote to me in the last weeks of his life. I'm amazed at what a good person he seems to have seen in me. I really hope I can live up to that.
Grandpa had his priorities in order. Family and God were both at the top. He was also plenty successful in his career as an accountant, but it didn't really seem to define him. He joined the Church while in the Navy as a young man, and shortly thereafter served as a full-time missionary for 2 years in Australia. He kept in contact with some of the people he associated with there, for his whole life. He met and married my Grandma after his mission, and they had their family. He served people and managed to always be there for his family, too. He and my Grandma served two full-time missions together--one as directors of the Church welfare program in Thailand, and another in Greece. I am so proud of the work they did.
I guess Grandpa's work really isn't done, though. His influence has been so profound here on earth, and I'm sure he's still doin' his thing on the other side.
I love you, Grandpa Davis!