Our Grandpa, Gilbert Verdon Heaton passed away last Sunday, April 13th, 2008 at the ripe old age of 80. I have many wonderful memories of my grandpa as a gentle, funny but dry humored, loving and quiet man. As we all met with our extended family in St. George this past week to celebrate his life, I learned a lot that I never knew about him.
He lived on the Arizona Strip at his family's ranch for most of his adult life, living out his dreams as a true blue cowboy. Because he lived out there, my mom, her two sisters, my cousins and I didn't get to see him as much as we would've liked. He lived out there full time and worked the range and ranch with his brother Tony's family (who lovingly call him Uncle Verdon.)
My second cousins, Gavin and Kelly and my Great Aunt Anna Laura told their stories of him at the funeral, and I was amazed at the man they knew him to be. They knew him to be the most thoughtful, generous, prayerful, interesting man. As I listened to their stories and added them to the bank of what I know and love about my Grandpa, I couldn't help but feel so proud of my heritage and want to know more and more about him.
Since he passed, I have thought of him constantly. And since the funeral, I have had the song Have I Done Any Good running through my head (we sang it as the opening hymn) and especially the lyrics "doing good is a pleasure...a joy beyond measure..." And I feel like this was a lesson for me to take away from my dear old granddad. He lived such a simple life. He lived it the way he wanted to, and yet he lived it out serving other people and making other people feel good and happy and most importantly, Loved. And this is where he found his "joy beyond measure"...from doing good for other people, quietly and without accolades. We knew he was full of love and stories, and of great recipes for old cowboy favorites like dutch oven cooking and the best beef jerky ever!! But the other side of the family taught us the stories of his prayerful demeanor, and generous spirit among all he came in contact with. Because we rarely saw him in his element, these were sides of him I didn't see.
I am so grateful that I was there for the services..they were the most perfect tribute for him. I am so grateful for my heritage, and for my family. I feel so blessed to be who I am and so excited to pass the stories of my Grandpa Heaton on to our little girl.