The following is a copy of what I read at my Grandpa’s memorial service last weekend. Also, here is the video Gordon and I made.
I did not have the same relationship with my Grandpa Shein that most of my family did. For many of my cousins and relatives, their love and passion for sports intersected with his and their conversations would either begin or end there — and sometimes both!
I was simply not a child who cared much for player statistics or ballgame updates. This caused me to grow up feeling a bit disadvantaged in terms of relating to my grandfather. I may have been first born, but how could I even be close to favorite when we had nothing in common?
Luckily, Grandpa had passed down a gift that would grow in my life into a skill. It would mature into my own slice of commonality with him, which allowed us to grow closer than ever before this past year. Like my grandfather, I am a writer.
My favorite memories of time spent together were those days I would join his writing class — listening, participating, learning, growing. When we began seriously discussing his autobiography several months ago, I brought ideas to the table that gave him hope that he would actually see it completed.
Looking back, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to presume that these entrepreneurial skills that are evident in my life might have also originated from his influence — from selling cheesecakes to selling manuscripts and all of the other personality traits that make people like he and I stand out from the crowd, his stamp is all over me. We’re proof that it’s never easy to constantly be so handsome, charming, talented, personable, and modest.
As I went through the photos that my cousin, Gordon, and I used to make the memorial video, I realized just how full and rich a life he lived. My entire life was spent looking at him through the sands of my own hourglass. Now, I was viewing it through his! To see his friends and family, loves and triumphs in a way I never have before will be unforgettable. Seeing these images had finally made everything real to me.
I don’t think that anyone can truly be prepared for the death of someone they love. There are always conversations not said or tasks not checked. We didn’t say “I love you” that one extra time, or we passed on an opportunity to just stop by.
No matter how many promises I read that this is not the end of his journey and that I will see him again because we both place our trust in Christ alone, there is still an emptiness in my life. A void where laughter once reigned and optimism was law. The only times that I come close to crying are when I think about how I will never see him on this earth again. I can’t call him to ask what chapters he wants included in his autobiography. I won’t be able to get him to contribute new content to my sports-related website names in honor or him. And the only way he will hear me say, “I love you” is if my voice is carried into the sky on the wings of eagles.
I want to close with a poem that Grandpa wrote for Grandma.
“Should I Remain”
By Arn Shein
Should you go first and I remain to walk the road alone,
I’ll stroll our private memory lane,
And ponder days we’ve known.
Should you go first and I remain to run my one-man race,
Each thing you’ve touched along the plain
Will be a hallowed place.
Your voice, your smile will fill the land, though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand
Will drive me on with hope.
Should you go first and I remain to finish with the scroll,
No lengthy shadows shall cause me pain
Or make my life seem droll.
We’ve known so much of happiness; we’ve had our cup of joy,
And memory’s a gift of Godliness
That death cannot destroy.
Should you go first and I remain, one thing I’d have you do;
Walk slowly down that long, long lane
For soon I’ll follow you.
I’ll want to know each step you take that I may walk the same,
For some day, dear, you will awake
And hear me call your name.
Should you go first and I remain, I’ll scan the setting sun,
And I will hear a soft refrain:
Two hearts that beat as one.