I’m writing this a week after my grandpa’s funeral. Albeit a sad occasion, but my family and I have found great comfort in knowing his pain is over. And it’s over because Jesus is King and God is love.
My grandpa’s last few months were difficult. He had multiple strokes, and his memory was stuck in the past. While he, fortunately, remembered my family members, he talked about events as if they were recent even if they were decades ago. The best ways to talk with him were to play along with his memory and appreciate the stories he was able to tell. It was in those moments that I learned the most about my grandpa’s passions, favorite places, and kindness for the world. At 87 years old, there were a lot of memories and people whom he encountered, and he showed dignity to all of them.
Throughout my life, my grandpa was the best example of goodness and light. He gave everything to those in his life, without question. He loved unconditionally and lived out the Gospels quietly but devoutly. He did so because of his devotion to God and God’s people. He knew Jesus was a King who was to lead in his life. My grandpa also knew that Jesus’s Kingdom was not of this world, but he did his best to make that Kingdom alive to those he met. He spent countless hours volunteering at church, with Boy Scouts, in his neighborhood, and mentoring young engineers.
Because his example of finding dignity in each person and in each job permeated into my and my cousins’ lives, we all have chosen paths of which he would have been proud. My brother is studying theology and social work, my cousin works in education in low-income areas, my aunts and uncles love their families unconditionally, my dad works compassionately in a broken criminal justice system, and so on. We all also see Jesus as a faithful King who is the one true God—that challenges us to love as God loves and work for justice. While holidays may be a little emptier now, I know we have someone new waiting for us in the Kingdom.
Allyson Petry is the director of Nazareth Farm, a small, intentional Catholic community living and working in rural West Virginia. When not behind a desk, she enjoys joining her staff on home repair projects and visiting neighbors.