Grandpa passed away last night. As I think on all the memories that fill my mind of Grandpa, I feel gratitude. A note to my sweet cousins; do you remember the magical gatherings as a family at the Kahala and Manoa houses? The days swimming in the Kahala pool while grandpa weeded his garden? The summer days on Maui driving around in the big Budget van? I feel so blessed to have these memories, which without him would not exist. I am mostly grateful, however, for the light he invited into our lives by teaching us the importance of the gospel, the many times he shared his testimony and the chance he gave all of us each year to share our own testimonies with each other. The phrase "Remember who you are" is forever etched in our minds.
My favorite memory of Grandpa was the visit we made to Hawai'i just before Grandma passed away. My girls sat in his office chattering away, asking question after question without letting him respond. Listening in was a heartwarming experience as he imparted wisdom to their young minds. As we visited with Grandma in the black leather chair, we spent a beautiful afternoon listening to stories of how they met and their younger years of marriage. His loyalty and respect for her is and was unquestionable. We will miss you Grandpa-remember who you are.
Shawn is home and safe! He arrived Thursday morning last week and it has been HEAVENLY! The kids were stuck on him for 36 hours straight, which was fun to watch. At the airport we were all stationed just at the bottom of the escalators at baggage claim. There was quite a big group and with all of our signs and excitement, other travelers must have felt a bit intimidated. Most of the wives stood together in a row, focusing on breathing evenly. We would see a bit of green or grey and start to jump then realize we had been a tad over-zealous. When the soldiers finally started to filter down, it was amazing to watch each family reunite. What a beautiful blessing we are given in family! Earlier, one of the local news channels asked me to wear a mic and told me to, "just do what you normally would." I warned the man that there would be gushing and very little audible speech. He was OK with it. We did a small interview after Shawn arrived, gave hugs and handshakes, then went on our merry way completely surrounded by our own little bubble of joy.
This time apart has been some of the most challenging and important time of my life. I have learned more about myself than I could have imagined. I grew to understand my weaknesses better and be less afraid of them. I have been able to marvel at the strengths of others. I have learned to be more confident about my strength in motherhood. I have been reminded in big and small ways that my Heavenly Father is the only constant ear in my life and have been humbled by His mercy toward me. I have felt gratitude for understanding the importance of sacrifice and what a fundamental role it plays in love. I realized how much I have taken for granted as a citizen of this country. Though my love for Shawn was certain before he left, I have fallen even deeper in love with the man who completely holds my heart. Looking back, though there were many dark nights, I wouldn't change a thing.