The last two weeks have been tough.
I’m not sure if I shared this before or not, but my target date for finishing Killer Shine was May 18th.
I was close — a few chapters short — on the Thursday before my deadline, when word came from my family in Alabama that my grandfather was not doing well.
He passed away (peacefully) on Friday afternoon, May 17th.
The next morning, instead of wrapping the all-night writing session I’d planned, I was behind the wheel on a ten-hour trek from St. Augustine to Tuscaloosa. My gears shifted from writing fiction, to trying to capture ninety years of wonderful life for my grandfather’s eulogy (which I was honored to give on behalf of my family).
I’ve been very blessed to have a lot of strong, female role models in my life (three grandmothers, a fantastic mom, and a bevvy of aunts, great-aunts, cousins, and a big sister who have all taught me how to be a powerful woman).
But male role models in my life are in much shorter supply.
Truman Holt was the only grandfather I ever knew — fortunately for me, he exceeded all expectations in his grandparent job description.
He was quiet, kind, Godly, and warm. He was a World War II veteran, a father of four, grandfather of ten, and great-grandfather of seven. He was a grill master and a frequent traveler, a collector of old bottles (many of which he dug from Alabama river banks) and a talented mandolin player.
I’ll miss him forever.
It’s been two weeks and I still cannot allow the idea that he is gone to settle into any permanent position in my mind.
While I’m trying to pick the pieces up and get back into the swing of things (starting now, today, with this new blog post) I thought I’d share with you part of his eulogy, because I think the message can speak to anyone who has lost someone they loved.
In loving memory of Charles Truman Holt:
He was a man of good character and good standing – a man of God and a man of wisdom – a man whose word always carried more value than the change in his pocket.
He lived his life with a quiet dedication to the principals of kindness, loyalty and faith, because those were the valuable gifts his parents, Lindsey and Evie, bestowed upon their youngest son. I know they are with him today, beaming with pride, because they know those precious gifts were the foundation upon which a great man was built.
Like guiding stars on the darkest night, those treasures brought Truman through good times and bad. They made him a good son, a loving brother, and when the time called for it – a strong soldier. They also made him into a caring husband, a wonderful father, a kind uncle, and the best grandfather and great-grandfather this world has ever known.
That’s what makes it so difficult for us today. We feel like we’ve lost something that we can never get back.
But there is a beautiful story I read once about the passing of a person’s soul from this life to the next.
In the story, the soul of our loved one is likened to the broad spar of a beautiful ship. And as we stand here together on one side of the ocean, watching that ship’s sails disappear over the horizon, there is another group standing on the opposite shore, raising their voices to welcome the incoming vessel.
The ship is gone only from our sight.
So let us huddle together on this shoreline and be thankful that Truman has completed a very successful voyage.
And though his sails might have dipped across the horizon line, we are fortunate that he has left with us (much like his parents left to him) some of the greatest treasures he found in his journey.
- To his four children, Truman has left the gifts of kindness, compassion, and heart.
- To his ten grandchildren, he has left the gifts of strength, character, and faith.
- And to his seven great-grandchildren, he has left the gifts of spirit, joy, and laughter.
And to all of us – to everyone he came in touch with in his ninety years of life – he has left the greatest souvenir any traveler could ever hope to find in this world – the gift of love.
With these treasures, we have been entrusted with the legacy of a great man. We must tuck them safely into our hearts, so that when the time comes for each of us to set sail for that distant horizon, we will be able to pass these same gifts on to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. And with them, the heart, the mind, and the soul of Truman Holt will live on forever.
So let us walk away from the shoreline not feeling like we have lost something, but like we have gained. Because we each now carry a piece of this great man in our hearts and for that we are better people.