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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Grandpa Smith

Last week, I saw miracles. I counted blessings. I had prayers answered. I felt God's love.

Last week, I lost my sweet Grandpa Smith.
My Grandpa was a truly incredible man and I am so blessed to be his granddaughter. He was the ultimate example of what it means to be Christlike and to have charity for your fellow men. Grandpa sincerely loved our Savior, the gospel, and the scriptures, and he shared his testimony with anyone who would listen. But more than that, Grandpa lived his testimony. The world was not always kind to my Grandpa, but Grandpa was always -- always -- kind to the world. On countless occasions, he literally gave his last penny away to someone who he thought needed it more than he did. Such an amazing example of love and service.

Grandpa lived to make other people happy and would do anything to make someone smile or laugh. Growing up, we called him our "silly Grandpa" because he always had a new joke to tell. Of course, the recurring teases were our favorites: "Have you seen my granddaughter Ashley?," he'd ask. "I haven't," I teased back. "Well, when you see her, will you tell her that I love her?" He went out of his way to make sure he always told us -- so we always knew -- that he loves us and is proud of us. I'm so grateful for the chance I had to tell him the same things one last time before he passed away.
Visiting Grandpa in February
I wrote a 7-page, single-spaced typed journal entry the night Grandpa passed away and felt it would be appropriate to share a little excerpt here.

From my journal, July 17, 2012:
My beloved Grandpa, Allen Leroy Smith, courageously and peacefully passed from this life to the next surrounded by those who he loves -- that love him so much in return. We felt heaven so near -- and God's love so strongly -- as we were given countless tender mercies that allowed such a sorrowful moment to be a beautiful, calm, sweet spiritual experience. If a day like this could be perfect, it was. Today was beautiful.

I know now more than ever that our Heavenly Father loves us. He is mindful of us. He hears and answers our prayers in the way that He knows is best for us. He gives us miracles when they are most needed in our lives. I know that we are His children and that through the Atonement of His son, Jesus Christ, we can live with Him again someday. I am so grateful for that knowledge. I am so grateful that my sweet Grandpa helped instill that in me and that he let me have this experience today that cemented that forever.

Grandpa had multiple myeloma and his kidneys were failing, but we expected to have him with us at least until the end of the year. After all, he was only 79, was on dialysis, and was treating the cancer. We were buying as much time as we could get with him. Matt and I are actually moving in with my parents for a couple months while we wait for our house in Utah, and the thing I was looking forward to most was being able to spend quality time with my grandparents. So when my mom called from the hospital Monday afternoon to tell me the doctors had only given my Grandpa a couple hours to live, it came as a complete shock.

Jake and I were in the car and on our way to Utah within an hour of that phone call. We made it to Grandpa's bedside at 2 a.m. on Tuesday. I held his hand for the next couple hours, telling him repeatedly how much I love him and how proud I am to be his granddaughter. I cried tears of gratitude that God had given me that opportunity. A few hours later, my parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings all stood in his hospital room again, expressing our love and appreciation for him. Meanwhile, my Aunt Janell was flying in on the earliest flight from the East Coast. We encouraged Grandpa to hang in there for Janell, and we begged our Father in Heaven to allow her to make it in time.

At dialysis a few days before, Grandpa told my mom that he wanted to live as long as he could. That desire proved true as Grandpa defied the odds and fought to hang on for my Aunt Janell's arrival. I don't feel that it is appropriate to share the details on a public blog, but God blessed us with so many sweet miracles in Grandpa's final hours. The greatest blessing was that our prayers were answered and Janell was able to make it across the country in just enough time to say goodbye to her daddy.

Again, from my journal:
A few minutes after Janell arrived, my mom told us all that she felt like we should sing "I am a Child of God." Janell and Darlene both echoed that impression. We began:

"I am a Child of God, and He has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear."

Singing that line to their sweet earthly father in his final moments was so tender for his children. We continued with broken voices, yet it sounded beautiful -- like we were singing with angels. My mom didn't think Grandma knew the words (since she is deaf), but Grandma sang every one as we continued through the second and to the third verse.

"I am a Child of God, rich blessings are in store. If I but learn to do His will, I'll live with Him once more. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me. Help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday."

"We love you," we said. And Grandpa slipped away.

This time, it was calm and peaceful and warm, and it felt right. We felt a taste of heaven in those moments. We knew that our prayers had been answered and that Grandpa's mission on earth was complete. Promises from heaven had been fulfilled and we had witnessed many miracles. It was so tender and so sweet. Our Heavenly Father couldn't have written a more beautiful ending to this chapter.

God is a God of miracles, and miracles do not cease. We will all live with Him together someday.


  1. I am so sorry about your grandfather. It's so hard to lose such a special person. XO

  2. I know it is always incredibly hard to lose a loved one, but what an amazing experience. I had tears in my eyes as I read it. He must have been so incredibly happy to be surrounded by so many people who love him in his final moments.

  3. this post gave me hundreds apon hundreds of goosebumps. amazing. God really is incredible and blesses us, even when times are hard.
    I'm sorry for your loss, but what joy to know you'll see him again one day<3

  4. I really felt the spirit reading this post, Ash. Thanks for sharing your testimony so openly. The gospel is so true and so wonderful and so complete and so comforting, especially at times like this. I'm so glad you were able to be there with your grandpa.

  5. This is a wonderful tribute to your grandpa and his testimony. I'm so glad you were able to make it in time to be with him and your family.

  6. Beautiful picture to end an absolutely beautiful post. What a blessing to be given the chance for another "I Love You"!

  7. First, thank you for sharing such intimate moments with us. This was truly teaching, and although its someone we never met, I was on the verge of tears reading this. May he rest in peace now, and I'm sure he will forever thrive on your endless love and all the opportunities he had. May your new guardian angel comfort you all =)

  8. Wow, this is amazing. Thanks for sharing this with us Ashley. I never really knew him but I saw him and your Grandma at family events and they seemed very special. What a clear perspective the gospel gives. I'm so grateful for it.

  9. My dear sweet Ashley, thank you for making the extra effort to make it to grandpa's bedside. He loves you so much and I know it gave him courage to fight a little longer. We have been so blessed.

  10. Thank you so much, everyone. The gospel really is such a comfort at times like these. I am so grateful that I'll be able to see him again!


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