I remember my grandfather, in whose name we meet, but only barely. His hearty laugh, his strong embrace—these I remember, as well as the day he passed away.
A humble man with a big heart, I doubt he could have imagined that his name would stretch across the United States through grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As a farmer, his day was simple and direct, uncomplicated by life as we know it now.
Originally from Iowa, his family moved to Southern California in the early 1900s, for the dreams common to that time. Later they became pioneers in the desert terrain of the vast Imperial Valley. Though not quite the land of “milk and honey” (which they had imagined), it nevertheless provided opportunity and hope.
As one of the organizers of the Reunion, I went through old letters and photos to better understand my grandfather. What began as scattered puzzle pieces has now evolved into a beautiful mosaic, and I am left with an unquenchable thirst for more information—about his life and the times in which he lived.
Throughout the preparations for this event, I’ve thought of C.S. Lewis’ quote about choices, because my grandfather’s decisions laid the foundation for the whole family. The quote that has haunted me is this:
“…every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature…”
My grandfather’s choices taught the family how to live. I see that now—in my mother, my aunts and uncle, and my cousins and siblings. His courage in the face of profound adversity, his generosity during financial crises, and his kindness towards all—shaped his family. He became the “heavenly creature” about which Lewis writes.
Love Multiplied is the theme of the reunion. I think my grandfather might have a hearty laugh in heaven over this, while the rest of us celebrate!