A Memorial To My First Born

Grant Colin Orville Gab died on February 20, 1996 at the age of 29 years. I share with you the Memorial we prepared for his funeral service. This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to write. Some of the memorial comes from excerpts of a letter of encouragement and love written to me by friends.

God said,

I will give you Grant on loan for a little while. For you to love while he lives and mourn when he is dead. I don't know for how long, but until I call him back, will you please take care of him for me. He will bring his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief, you'll have his loving memories as solace for your sadness. For all the joy this child shall bring to you, you will run the risk of grief. Shower him with tenderness and love him while you may. The happiness that you will know will be with you forever.

So today we remember that Grant was never really ours. He was a distinct personality and a separate soul that truly belonged to God. God chose all of us as the guardians of Grant's soul to act temporarily on His behalf, charged with the responsibility of protecting and nourishing his physical body, encouraging and stimulating his mental growth and development, and molding him into a good, decent, righteous soul who served God's purpose.

Nothing in God's world happens by chance. When He sent us a child with a broken body, it was no accident. It was undoubtedly because he knew Grant would have loving, caring and devoted parents, brother and sisters, relatives and friends who would give him the extra care he would need. Perhaps He originally intended that Grant would be here a much shorter time, but through our prayers, He extended Grant's time on earth. This gave us an extra 21 years to enjoy His child all that much more, and to delight in His child's accomplishments.

The time came for God to call Grant home, just as He will do with all of us when He decides he needs us or the time is right. Grant's work was done in our world, and he is back with God now. He is home. I can't think of a better place. We must put aside our selfishness of wanting one more kiss and hug from Grant, and rejoice in the fact that his pain and suffering are gone.

And we must praise God for bringing us the good news of salvation knowing that one day we will return to our Father's home. Death holds no fear for those of us who truly know that when our life on earth is ended, we will return home. But because we are a selfish people, death does hold sadness and loneliness and pain which can only be overcome when we remember God's great plan for all of us and remember that one day we will all be together again. We must never question why -- because there will be no answer until we again are returned to the Father who has offered each of us everlasting life.

So, today I ask that we celebrate his life and the time we had with him. We were privileged. And we are assured that Grant is where he needs to be, still serving God's purposes.

Grant's life on this earth was not easy. But thru it all he never lost hope, never lost his smile and laughter, but most importantly never lost his faith in God and the belief that he would eventually be taken to a much better world.

It wasn't this raw courage or his incomparable determination to live that made him special. Rather it was simply that Grant was a nice person -- a caring, compassionate human being. Although plagued with pain and suffering most of his life that is almost impossible for us to comprehend, Grant never complained. He never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him. He worried more about his family than himself. And, although Grant may have appeared to be weak, he was stronger than anyone we knew.

We will remember when his parents named Grant -- one of the reasons his name was chosen was because Grant means "great one", and he was truly a giant among men for 29 years.

We will remember Grant for his wonderful smile and infectious laugh.

We will remember Grant for being the one of the world's 2 best sons.

We will remember Grant for his devotion to his brother Brooks and his sister Krin. He cared so deeply for them and loved them so much, as he still does.

We will remember Grant for his love and gentleness toward his little sister Shari, and how he so carefully helped care for her when she was little, as he did with his nephew Zachary. No one could make the little children laugh easier than Grant.

We will remember the short times when he had kidney transplants that worked. The great change that came over him with his rosy little cheeks and the unceasing energy he had at those times. If we could hear Grant speak today, I'm sure one of the things he would say would be, "Please fill out an organ donor card. We have no use for kidneys in heaven."

We will remember his spunk. In 1976 we received a telephone call from a parent saying Grant had hit their kid in the face and broke his glasses. Finding this puzzling because it was out of character for him, Grant told us, "Well, he punched me first on my new kidney."

We will remember his concern for people he didn't even know. Grant received a call late in the evening on December 23 a few years ago. There was a kidney waiting for him. He did not accept it, and told his Mom the following, "I know it had to be someone going home to visit their family for Christmas, and I could never live with that."

We will remember Grant when we watch the Fighting Irish because we know that he will be on the 50 yard line.

And we will remember him as his nephew Zack does. Krin was explaining to Zack that in heaven, Grant has no pain. He can walk and run, stand up and sit down without help, and lie down comfortably.

Zack said, "I hope he doesn't lay on his wings."

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