Glenn, (Grant’s dad)…his Tribute to Grant, read at Grant’s Memorial Service
I want to thank you all for coming today. I should have had Jon tell you to buckle up, this could go long. You see, we really don’t want this to end. After this, normal life is supposed to start. We don’t know what normal is anymore. We are healing but we are not yet healed. I know you will stand with us as we heal. Many of you know us in different contexts. Some from church, some from work, some from organizations we have been part of, some from parenting classes we have taught and the list goes on. We will need to heal in all aspects of our lives. Grant was part of us. So part of us is missing now and we will be off balance for a while. Thank you for your care, mercy, patience, and love as we limp forward toward our new normal; toward being healed.
Let me give you the end of my comments about Grant before I give you the middle: Grant was a Christian. Not I think he was a Christian, not he made a profession of faith once, not that he was simply baptized, not that he was a good guy –which he was that too, not that he had “fire insurance” as some like to say. He professed faith in Christ as his savior, repented from and regretted sin, was baptized into the faith, didn’t feel whole unless he was part of a church, and tried to live a life that honored God. So, we have faith that he is with God, in Heaven, right now.
But let me tell you about his life. Grant was born June 12, 1988 in Portland, Oregon. He was a considerate man from the day of his birth. First of all he waited until after my first year law school finals were over to be born. Secondly, he waited until the decent hour of 1:51 in the afternoon to be born.
I can vividly remember seeing his head for the first time during his birth. But he was stuck. Apparently he had broad shoulders and the doctor was struggling to free them. So, I watched as she grabbed the crown of his head and began twisting, and twisting, and twisting. I can still remember the fear that rose up inside of me. I literally thought she was going to break his neck. I feared that I was going to witness both the birth and death of my first born son at the same time. As I stepped forward to challenge the doctor an explosion of flailing arms came bursting out of Alisa. His shoulders and arms were freed. What I didn’t know was that the doctor was turning Grant’s shoulders too, with her other hand. I didn’t need to be afraid. God was watching out for Grant. That was the first time I felt fear for my son. I feared for him countless times since that day. However, God has never left his side and is still watching over him now. I do not have to fear for him anymore.
Grant was the kind of baby everyone hopes for. He rarely cried, was easily entertained, ate well, slept well, loved to be held but did not demand it, and was always healthy. If he had one quirk it was that he would eat too much. Then, when we would burp him, he didn’t just burp, what he did was barf. Oh that boy could barf. Before Grant, I had a weak stomach. He cured me of that in a hurry.
As my first born child, his was the first birth I ever witnessed. He was the first baby I ever gave a bath, the first I ever burped, the first to ever poop, pee, and barf on me. Yup, he did all three. He was the first of my children I saw take those first wobbly steps. He was the first to call me daddy. He was the first of my children that I taught to throw a ball and ride a bike. There were so many firsts with Grant. Now, he is the first to go on to be with the Lord.
As a toddler he was carefree and skipped the terrible twos completely. He loved to go in the back yard and “ wook for wizards”. Translated, look for lizards. When we would see him prowling around the back wall we used to love to go and ask him what he was doing just to hear him say, “I’m wooking for wizards.”
From an early age Grant could sit and play legos for hours. He quickly moved on from the larger duplo-blocks to the smaller legos long before the recommended ages on the box. At 4 he was easily putting together lego sets recommended for ages 9 and up. He would quickly put the set together like it was designed then disassemble it and make his own designs. I used to lay on the floor with him for hours and we would build cars, planes and cities together. He had that gift from a very early age and it continued to grow in him as he matured.
Alisa convinced me we should homeschool Grant. At first I was skeptical, but I became a fan very quickly. Grant was reading when he was 4. It was not just that he could identify the word cat or bat. He was reading early readers, and comprehending them. Alisa taught him to read, count, write, do math, understand science, social studies, and helped him to memorize and understand verses from the Bible. Instead of toddling off to a school, Grant toddled off to the kitchen table where Alisa spent hour upon hour, day upon day, year upon year teaching him almost everything he knew. Knowing what I know now, I am so glad she convinced me to let her spend all that time with him.
Grant was not a genius. He was better than a genius. He was a diligent conscientious worker. Although he has a young cousin who believes he was the smartest man in the world, he was probably of average intelligence. But, he applied himself to whatever work was placed before him, focused, got help when he needed it, and got it done. You could always rely on him for his best effort. Honor, integrity, and diligence were only a few of his many positive character traits.
Grant was quiet but I would not call him shy. He did not fill the air with meaningless words just to hear himself talk. He was not afraid to speak up and when he said something, it mattered. I could go on about him but let me use the letter I have written to the first responders and medical staff that assisted him to tell you how I described him to strangers:
(Before I read that, I know that many of you want to know what happened. From my conversations with the accident investigator it appears that traffic was backing up on the road Grant was travelling on his motorcycle. Instead of slowing with traffic in his lane, he changed lanes to continue on. Apparently he did not see that the lane was blocked by a dump truck that had stopped to pick up some construction waste. Grant locked up his brakes but was not able to stop in time. He collided with the truck. All I know about his injuries is that the doctors could not stop all the internal bleeding. If you are wondering, yes, he was wearing his helmet, as he always did.) Now for the letter I sent to the first responders and UCLA medical staff:
“I am writing you this letter to express my thanks for the care you provided to my son Grant McCormick. He was the 24 year old young man who was involved in the motorcycle accident at 220 San Vicinte in Santa Monica at 2:30 on the afternoon of May 4, 2013. He died at 9:40 am Sunday morning, May 5, 2013 at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. I know you provide care to people in need and do not question who they are, what they believe, or what they stand for, but I wanted you to know a little about Grant. I wanted you to know you worked to save a quality young man who had a real future ahead of him and not just some guy on a motorcycle.
Grant was Homeschooled from pre-school to college. We did not make this choice because of a fear of public schools. We did so to provide him one on one teaching and training for life. He played Pop Warner Football, began riding off-road motorcycles when he was 10, was an accomplished guitarist who played in the worship band at our church, and had lots of friends. He led a pretty “normal” life.
Grant started taking college classes at a community college when he was 14. At 18, when he graduated from our homeschool-high school he had 58 college credits with above a 3.8 GPA. He then attended Arizona State University on full tuition, books, and fees academic scholarship. He was a bright hard worker. He graduated from the ASU College of Design with his degree in Architectural Design and a minor in Urban Planning –with honors. From undergrad he went straight into ASU’s Architecture Masters program. Grant learned to speak, read and write Spanish from classes in Community College and through his travels in Spanish speaking countries. He liked to read books in Spanish to keep up on his skills. He was fluent in the language. He did a semester in Argentina, a summer internship in Mexico City and another in Barcelona Spain with a world famous architectural firm. (While in Spain he “ran with the bulls” in Pamplona, complete with the white outfit with the red bandana. I should note that he was not one of the crazies who taunted the bulls and ran just in front of them. He was a good 100 yards ahead of them at the start of the event. He was generally a very careful young man.)
However, more important than his academic achievements was his character. We are committed Christians who endeavor to judge no one and love everyone. Grant embodied this training far better than we, his parents, and was living his life in this light. Grant would regularly buy lunch for homeless people hanging around the fast food joints near ASU when he would stop for lunch. He didn’t care if they stunk or were mentally ill, eccentric, or addicted. He was just a nice guy who knew that but-for the grace of God, that could be him. He quietly pursued God with his whole heart and was a good friend to everyone. His Christian witness to the world around him was more through how he lived his life than through the words he chose to speak. His friends would describe him as steady, caring, genuine, honest, helpful, strong, and with a very good sense of humor. He was not outgoing, not the life of the party, but everyone who knew him loved him and wanted to include him in their lives.
After graduation Grant moved to LA to begin his career as an architect. He had been living there for 9 months when this tragedy occurred. He chose LA because the certifications he would earn in California would equip him to work on projects anywhere in the US and most places in the world. He was a planner. He looked ahead in life.
Grant did not pursue a having a serious girlfriend in college because architecture is a grueling major. He commonly got only 4 hours of sleep a night with the rest of his time devoted to his school work and projects. However, I must note that he generally took Sunday mornings off to attend church. He was serious about everything he did and would not commit part-way to a young woman. He was there in LA pursuing his career, and finally, looking for a woman to share his life with. He was ready to blossom into the next season of his life.
He loved and respected his mother and me. He was one of those kids who never gave his parents an ounce of trouble. His siblings would sometimes jokingly call him “the perfect child.” He loved his 2 younger sisters and younger brother. He was always a reliable rock in our family, mediating disputes, never taking sides, quick with a joke, or a smile, or a meaningful comment. He truly was a good kid, a great son, and an immeasurable loss to us. 24 years 327 days was not enough time for us to be with him. He was supposed to bury me and his mom, not the other way around.
I could go on about Grant but I think I have provided you enough of a glimpse of who he was. He was invaluable to us. Your care for him served not only a quality young man, you served all of the people who loved him so much.”
And I went on to thank them from there and to thank them more specifically…
You are now part of my healing process. I have been trying to wake up from this nightmare for a week now. Having you here is helping me to accept the fact that I am not asleep, I am not dreaming, and my son is gone. Although this process is painful, it is also necessary. So I sincerely thank you for being here as we remember and celebrate Grant Andrew McCormick’s life.
Long ago I told Alisa that I feared catastrophe happening to me. I have lived a charmed life. I had a great childhood. (Thank you mom and dad.) There isn’t anything that I have set my mind to that I have not accomplished with some degree of success. I have had success academically and athletically, everyone knows I married up, and I had 4 beautiful, healthy children. I could go on… But as a Christian, I feared that my faith may not withstand God allowing catastrophe in my life. I knew that it is easier to have faith when it is not challenged. However, I stand before you with my faith intact.
This has been an agonizing week. I have questioned God over and over, sometimes reverently. But I always go back to him for comfort. I have not lost faith despite this tragedy. I have come to know that there is no answer to any question I could ask of God that would ease my pain. I have come to learn that my questions are not really questions. They are pleas for God to wake me up from this nightmare. But I am not asleep.
I do not tell you this to talk about me. I tell you this because I know many of you are suffering with us. You are questioning God’s goodness. You need to know that God loves Grant more than we do. You need to know he loves my family and he loves you. You need to know that he has his reasons for all of this that are beyond our ability to comprehend, and if Alisa and I can stand on our faith, so can you.
If he could, Grant would say to you now, “You won’t believe this place! You have got to see it! If you don’t know how to get here talk to someone who does because you do not want to miss this.” See that you do. I like to think that one day Grant will show me around God’s celestial city where the streets are paved with gold, and maybe, just maybe Grant is working with God to prepare my real home. My eternal home. One that even his professors at ASU would be speechless to criticize.
I have personally shared the gospel with some of you in this room. We Christians have a hope that we will spend eternity with God because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We do not believe we have seen Grant for the last time. We do not want our last interaction with you to be here on earth either. If you don’t know Jesus, please talk with someone who does.
Thank you all so much for coming. I know you all want to help us in any way you can and feel helpless. Just knowing you are there for us, that you are thinking of us, grieving with us, praying for us, and remembering Grant with us gives us a sense of peace. The outpouring of support has been overwhelming. We cannot thank you enough. We know we are not alone in this. You are all instruments of God’s grace to us.
Alisa, (Grant’s mom)…her Tribute to Grant, read at Grant’s Memorial Service
Before I begin I have to try and find a way to explain the incomprehensible level of care, love, and support we have received. But it’s hard to even find words that can explain the magnitude. We are completely undone and at a loss for words to describe it and the effect it has had on our souls.
Since Grant’s death on Sunday, we have been contacted by hundreds, literally hundreds of people, thru FB, messages, cards, texts, and phone calls. I alone, have had over 600 touches. We have heard from people from around the world, that are praying for us. Entire churches from other countries have contacted us telling they were setting aside a day of prayer. Our local church has cared for us whole heartedly meeting our every need, before we even knew we needed it. We don’t know how this happened? We were living a quiet, obscure life in North Mesa, where nobody knew us, and now thousands, literally thousands, are lifting us up in prayer, sharing in our grief, and helping us to bare this burden. We have never felt such an out pouring of love, care, and support. There simply are no words that can express the level of comfort this has brought to our broken hearts.
So i will simply say, thank you and I will thank God everyday for the body of Christ here on Earth. It should also be noted, and those of you that knew Grant personally already know this to be true, he would be very awkward and uncomfortable with all of this attention.
So why am I speaking today? Because I need to. I want to for Grant, but I need to for me. I need to hear myself speak these truths that I know, and be able to reflect back on them in the quiet, lonely, dark days ahead. And I need you all to hear me speak them, so you can remind me that I believe them when I am tempted to despair and unbelief.
I start with this. Some of you may know this, others do not. Growing up, my mom was my best friend. Even thru the dreaded teen years, a day never went by that we didn’t say I love you to each other. Often when I would tell my mom I loved her, she’d say, “I, love you more.”
I would immediately counter with, “No, you don’t…I love you more.”
And she would always say, “No you don’t…I love you more and someday you’ll see” and smile her all knowing smile, give me a peck on the cheek, and walk away.
Flash forward into my adult years, I had gotten married and had a 6 month old baby, Grant. One day I had him on my hip, and I was swinging him around dancing with him to some praise music, and he was beaming and giggling, when all of a sudden I was literally overwhelmed by my love for him. Tears started streaming down my face as it hit me for the first time, just how much my mother loved me. She was right. She did love me more. And I only realized just how deep and fierce that love was for me, as I felt the same love for my child. I called my mom that day, and we laughed and cried together as I told her I finally understood. And I conceded, she did love me more.
There is just something about the love a mother (and father) has for their children. It rivals almost all other loves. And it is hard to put into words. But every parent sitting out there today, knows this truth.
The pain I feel at Grant’s loss is indescribable. It is so crushing at times I can barely breathe. But why am I telling you this? Because I want you all to know, that even in this, in the most devastating event of my life, I believe God to be a loving God and a good God. It is tempting to look at bad things when they happen and judge God’s love for us or goodness towards us, in light of that bad event. But we cannot do that. We must look to Christ and His sacrifice and see all of life standing in the shadow of the cross. Because of the cross, we don’t get what we deserve, punishment for our sin. Instead we get what we don’t deserve, the mercy, forgiveness, and love of God. Standing in the shadow of this cross is the only way we will be able to see God’s love for us when bad things happen. I beg all of you today, to help me, check up on me, make sure I am standing in the shadow of the cross of Christ, as I walk thru this season.
And Grant, I vow to love God thru this and never question his love for me, because of what’s happened.
Grant, I vow to rejoice with you as you rejoice in your true home now, and find comfort and peace knowing you wouldn’t come back even if you could.
Grant, I vow to trust God thru this, not because of circumstances, but in spite of them.
Grant, in time, I vow to sing out loud again, live again without fear of another phone call, smile again, find joy in the little things, and laugh without guilt. Because I know in doing these things, it is the best way to honor your life and bring glory to our Savior.
In Pastor Jon’s last sermon, before he moved, he talked about gratefulness. And while I cannot go over every bullet point here, the one thing I want to share with you is this. He taught us from Scripture that It’s only a grateful heart that can have faith to move forward in trial and pain. I believe that to be true and there is so much to be grateful for today. So in that vein, I want to end with some of the things I am grateful for today…
– I am grateful The Lord picked me, out of the billions of moms he could have chosen, to be Grant’s mother.
– I am grateful that we got to spend almost 25 amazing, life filled years with Grant.
– I am grateful for the relationship we had, the countless hours of laughter we shared, and the 100’s of memories we made.
– I am grateful for Grant’s dry sense of humor and how many times he made us all laugh, till we cried, with his one liners.
– I am grateful for Grant’s kindness to his siblings (as you have already heard, none us has any memory of Grant ever raising his voice to his brother or sisters or being unkind to them) and I am grateful for the way he lead his younger siblings by example.
– I am grateful for Grant’s sense of adventure and his courage to try anything…even running with the bulls in Spain, which he did complete with the solid white outfit and red bandanna. To venturing out late Thanksgiving night to fight the hordes of people at Walmart with me, so he and I could fill 2 carts full of stuff he needed for his new apartment.
-I am grateful we ended every phone call with I love you’s.
– I am grateful that Grant was never too busy, while traveling the world, to Skype his family back home, at least once a week, while he was gone.
– I am grateful that our quiet, reticent, Grant was never too embarrassed to take his wild and crazy mom shopping with him, even tho he never knew what to expect, from asking him to try a shirt on in the isle, to having him help me roll out a floor rug in the middle of the store so we could see what it looked like.
– I am grateful he was a chivalrous man who never let me open my own doors or carry the heavy stuff.
– I am grateful Grant was the kind of man that would buy a homeless man his lunch when he took breaks from school and went to Jack-in-the-Box to grab a bite to eat.
– I am grateful Grant was the kind of man that let his mom snuggle and press up against him, on his twin sized mattress, to lay beside him and take a power nap while he laid on his back next to me, reading from his laptop.
-I am grateful Grant was the kind of man that tempered his mom’s tendency to critically judge, by always gently cutting me off with his, “Mom, be nice,” with a tone that spoke volumes about being gracious and always believing the best in others.
– I am grateful for how artistic he was and the beautiful art he left behind for us to enjoy.
– I am grateful for how well grant learned to play the guitar and the countless hours I got to hear him playing from his room and from right here on this stage as part of the youth band and our worship band.
– I am grateful for the man Grant was; loyal, diligent, steadfast, gentle and calm, patient, kind and thoughtful, genuine, gracious and humble…a man who never stopped seeking his dad’s advice even tho he was a grown man. And a man that sought God’s word and strived to live a life that was in accordance to it.
– I am grateful for Grant’s steadfast, unwavering love for Christ and his desire to live a life that pleased God and glorified God.
– but I am most grateful today, that because Grant knew Jesus and loved God, he is now spending eternity in perfect peace worshipping His Savior, and that because Christ has swallowed death for those who believe, I will see Grant again someday and we will spend forevermore together!
One last thing you should know…my mom was going thru a tragedy of her own 2 months after Grant was born. He was also her first grandchild…so the combination of those two things, and the countless hours they spent together in Grant’s early life, created an incredible bond between Grant and his Grandma. He was only 9 when she died and went to be with The Lord. But even as an adult, our sensitive Grant would tear up when we talked about my mom. They loved each other so so much. Well Grant died on her birthday, May 5th. They are now in Heaven together, with their Savior. Happy Birthday mom…I can hardly wait to see you and Grant again someday soon.
Brie, (Grant’s 22 year old sister)…her Tribute to Grant, read at Grant’s Memorial Service
Over the course of the past few days I have felt more emotions than I thought possible yet somehow numb at the same time. My world and what I thought it would be has changed drastically. As I heard the voice on the other end of the phone tell my mom that my brother had been in a horrible motorcycle accident and that they did not think he was going to make it I saw my life flash before my eyes. The parts of my life that had been impacted and shaped by my older brother, which was almost my entire life. Up until May 5th, 2013 at 9:40 am pacific standard time I did not know life without my older brother. And I had never even fathomed having to face it. I have thought and felt so many different things since the moment my mom got the phone call from my dad saying that he had just got off the phone with the UCLA medical center and that their son, my brother was now with his savior. I have been writing things down as they came to mind but the memories I have and the qualities of Grant’s character are so unmeasurable it is hard to put them into writing. Both because it is hard to narrow them down and also because of the acute stabbing pain I feel in my heart when I try.
I will start with memories. People keep saying, “Think about the good times!” well that’s easy because the only memories I have of Grant are good memories. I think it is common when someone passes to put on rose colored glasses, but everything I am about to say is just the truth. It is not a false persona or tainted depiction of my brother to help ease his passing. It is just the truth and who he was. I only hope I can do his character and his memory justice. Anyone who knew him would attest to the picture of Grant I am going to try my hardest to paint, as an accurate one.
It is hard to pick just a few memories of someone I have spent almost every day of my life with. Someone who had an impact on every part of who I am. When my younger brother Colton was born my parents moved me into Grant’s room and turned my room into a nursery. Grant and I shared bunk beds. He was up top and I was on the bottom. I was between 3-5 and grant was 6-8. My dad would tuck us both in, pray over us, kiss us goodnight and then shut the door. When we first became bunk mates I saw this as my golden opportunity to pester Grant with questions. After all, he was the smartest person in the world and he was my best friend. As soon as my dad closed the door behind him I would look up at the wooden slats, where I knew my big brother was laying just a few feet above me, and I would say, “Grant, do you want to chitter chat?” before he had a chance to answer I would start right in. And he would patiently answer my questions.
After a few nights of this he decided to be proactive. Before I had a chance to ask him if he wanted to chitter chat he would say, “Okay Brianna, you can ask 3 questions and then I am going to sleep.” I would carefully think about what three questions I wanted to ask him each night. I can only imagine the inane questions a 4 year old could come up with. But he would patiently and thoughtfully answer each one. That was my brother. Patient, kind, thoughtful, fair, careful and caring. In my 22 years of life he never one time got angry or upset with me or ever even raised his voice. And that is not an exaggeration. When we were little if I ever did something wrong (which was daily) he would calmly and gently ask me “Brianna, are you going to confess?” “Ha. uhhh…no!” he would always give me a second chance. “Brianna, are you going to confess?” Prodding me with his kind brown eyes to do the right thing. And when I wouldn’t, he would calmly make his way to the door to inform my mom that, “Brianna had something that she needed to confess.” He never tattled. Not one time. He never told out of malice or to try to get me in trouble. He always told my parents out of love and to try to help make me a better person, even at such a young age, and I knew that. Which made it impossible to be mad at him. And being the meek, obedient little sister that I am I would grab his shirt and sit down and pull with all my might begging him not to tell my mom. He would continue the walk down the hall with me attached to his shirt dragging me across the carpet, unfazed and calm as ever.
Then there was the fateful day a few years down the road when I backed my moms suburban into Grant’s car. Twice. It was nighttime and it was a black car. He had washed it earlier that day and it was sitting in the drive way drying off. He just hadn’t pulled it back in the garage yet. I backed into it with a crash. However I did not realize it was there because I couldn’t see it. I thought I had hit my dad’s truck which was parked in front of it. So I readjusted so that I definitely would clear the truck this time. Yes, I attempted to back out again without getting out and looking. When I crashed into it the second time it dawned on me. I got out of the suburban to see my brothers car, with the drivers side completely dented in. I went in the house bawling and between sobs I told him what happened. He immediately pulled me in and gave me a big hug, the kind that only a big brother can give, and said “its okay Brianna, its just a thing.” Grant was never one to put value in material things. He just didn’t. He put value in the things that mattered. He never once lost his temper. He was always patient and he was always kind. That alone is an incredible legacy to leave.
My entire life whenever I would talk to my friends about having kids someday I would always say that all I cared about was having a boy first, because every girl should have a big brother. And mine was taken from me. He truly was the greatest big brother to have ever lived and I am so proud to have called him mine. I’d take the 22 years I got with my brother over a lifetime with anyone else. I was never meant to be the oldest sibling but I had the best example there has ever been and I will strive every day to be as kind, gentle, loving, patient, content, hard working, and selfless as my brother was. It breaks my heart to know that my children won’t be able to meet my precious brother and have his example in their lives on a daily basis. His memory will never be forgotten and our children will grow up hearing about their great Uncle Grant, who they will not have the honor of meeting on this earth.
As I looked back on his life the words that kept coming to mind were “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” Numbers 14:18 over and over and over. These words were written about God but they could have been written about Grant too. No words describe my brother better than the following:
“Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud it is not rude. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
We used to call him Jesus, which was a nick name he earned due to a phase he went through with a shaggy beard and long wavy brown hair, which he tucked behind his ears likening him to the inaccurate paintings and depictions of Jesus we have all grown up seeing. It wasn’t just his appearance though that earned him this nickname, it was his character. My brother was by no means perfect. But he resembled Christ in ways most people strive an entire life time to do. Grant’s work on this earth is done, but the impact his life had on the people who knew him will continue to grow and affect the world in ways that we may never realize.
Grant was not the life of the party. In fact we attended many parties together through the high school years. (yes I was the tag along sister) He was never the first one there or the last to leave. He never fought to be heard or competed for attention. But when Grant entered a room he had a presence. He was someone that everyone respected and valued his opinion. He didn’t talk a lot but when he did everyone listened. Because it was either something witty and hilarious or something wise and meaningful. He never felt the need to fill the silence with meaningless chatter. When he spoke, it was because he meant it. There is a side of Grant that very few people knew. The side of him that was a kid at heart. He was one of the funniest people I have ever known. I remember countless times having a conversation with my family when Grant would interject something with the straightest face possible, that would leave the rest of us laughing until we cried. He had a contagious laugh, that not enough people heard. He had the kindest brown eyes (which could never seem to stay opened whenever a photo was being taken) and a smile that was genuine and caring. Grant was the mediator in our family. He seemed to always have the answers to help us work through things and never chose sides. He was always able to see both sides of every argument and always spoke the truth. He hated drawing attention to himself or being the center of attention. Sorry Grant but today is ALL about you!
In circumstances like these, it is easy to let your mind be flooded with questions. “why?” “Why my brother?” “I don’t understand”. But I know that I will never have the answers to those questions here on this earth. I will never understand why. Grant was one of the greatest men I knew and he was taken. But what I do know is that God’s plan is perfect, his grace is sufficient, and he works all things together for our good. I don’t know why God allowed this, but I do know that he is going to use it for mighty things. My brother’s death was NOT in vain. It had a purpose and I believe that part of that purpose was for some of the people in this room. The last thing I want is for this time to honor my brother to turn into something where people feel like they are being preached at, so I will keep this part short. But I cannot handle the thought of my Brother’s death being in vain. He was not a mediocre brother, son or friend. He was not average. He was not “just a nice person”. He was a man that in his 24 years of life, never once lost his temper. He was a man who always put others before himself and who never had a bad thing to say about anyone. He was always patient no matter what the circumstance and never self glorifying. He was always kind. He was the hardest working person I knew and he was the greatest son, kindest brother, and dearest friend anyone could ever have. And I believe God meant to use his life to bring multitudes to him. That he meant for us to look at our lives and how we have been living and ask ourselves if we have been living in the way we were intended to. Grant’s life on this earth may be over but the impact God intended for Grant’s life to make on this earth is only beginning. Please, I implore you to use my brother’s passing as a wake up call. Life is but a fleeting breath and it is never to late to give your life to Christ and to start living for him. He is waiting with open arms, all you have to do is cry out to him.
There will not be a day that goes by for as long as I live that I won’t think about and miss my older brother. I long for the day when my family can be whole again praising our Lord and Savior together. I love you Grant.
Colton, (Grant’s 19 year old brother)…his Tribute to Grant, read at Grant’s Memorial Service
When my mom was encouraging me to get started on my speech for Grant, one of the things she said was this: ‘You never know how God might use what you are going to say, but more than that, you will want to look back and smile about the way you honored your big brother.’
But how? How can I honor the 24 years, of an awe inspiring life, within the couple minutes this speech will span? Well, I cant. Not when it comes to a man like Grant that is. However, there is one thing I can do. I can give you just a glimpse of MY Grant through MY perspective. No one has lived as Grant’s little brother aside from me, so let me tell you just how amazing it was!
First, a little back ground…Grant was 5 when I was born. We shared a room from the day I left the crib until the day he started community college; at the age of 14 I might add!
I watched him get a full ride to, and graduate from A.S.U., with his Masters, get an internship with an architecture firm in Mexico City, spend a semester of graduate school studying in Argentina, spend 3 months working for a very famous architecture firm in Barcelona, Spain, and I even watched him leave for Hollywood the day he moved out for good.
As a kid, I had only 2 role models; my dad, and my big Bro. I know my dad has been very successful, but there is nothing quite like watching your older brother grow up to do great things while you sit at home. It was about last December when he came home for christmas that he really got to me, with all of his crazy stories about running with the bulls, going to exotic Argentinian mountainside villages, and even eating a guinea pig, which happened to be a traditional meal in one of the little towns. It made me think about my life and how I was sitting at home, not in school, and working fast food. Without saying a word to me about it, Grant managed to inspire me to throw my life back on track. I started hitting the gym again and I enrolled in community college where I even started playing football for a team again. The worst part about all of this is that I have been to proud, too stubborn to admit this up till now. I never told him what an impact he had on me and how much his faith in me had always meant! It meant so much, Grant. I’ve always been one to seek as much glory as possible while my big brother was the most humble, selfless, God honoring man I have ever known. He never, never stopped being a near perfect godly example for even a single day.
And trust me, this is not a statement fabricated to honor him. It is the truth! I have vivid memories of actually testing him because it was just so in-human. I remember in one of the houses we lived in, all the doors in the house were solid wood and were pretty heavy because of it. Since the doors were heavy, they squeaked. And I’m not talking about a small chirp of a squeak. If you moved the door slow enough it almost sounded like a velociraptor dragging its claws down a chalk board. After making this observation, a night came where I had more energy than I knew what to do with, and Grant had more architecture homework than any student should be assigned. After sitting on his bed talking, but receiving the distracted answers a man in severe concentration would give, I proceeded to leave… then enter only to leave…. and then enter again. Then leave, then enter again…He looked up, pulled his lap top down so he could see over it and kindly asked “sooo Colton… what on earth are you doing?”
…… that was not the response I was looking for. All of my antagonistic efforts wasted. But as I am insurmountably stubborn. so I tried a new tactic. I stood by his door and opened it slowly, and closed it, then opened it and closed it. Again, and again I did this for honestly about 5 minutes before he looked up and in a witty, sarcastic tone that only Grant could do, said, “I admire your commitment to this…”.
… it was funny, but I was irritated at my self because never in my entire life have I failed to annoy someone, except Grant. I was determined to break him. I continued to squeak the door over and over and over and over and over, then I sat down because it had been 30 minutes and I was tired. But soon, I started up again. Over and over I moved that door for just over an hour until I finally lost it. I stood up, marched over to him and asked, “How does that NOT annoy you?!?!?”
He made a quick, confused glance around the room, then looked up and replied, as if he had no idea what I was talking about, “How does what not annoy me?”
My antagonistic tendencies combined with my stubbornness and the energy of a 16 year old were no match for his patients. And yes, I said 16 year old, you were probably picturing me as a child huh? I’m flattered, but no, Grant was the mature one. Not me.
He really took his Architecture seriously though. and he was good too. I know we all should have seen it coming. I used to get these elaborate lego sets of star wars space ships and all sorts of fantastic things that enticed a kid. The only problem was, I couldn’t sit still long enough to figure out how to put the dang things together. So every birthday and Christmas morning I would ask Grant to build my space ships and I would sit and watch. I could sit and watch, because he built these lego marvels in 20 minutes. Seemed like there were thousands of pieces but every time I asked if he needed the paper manuel (which I had already turned into a paper airplane), he said no, that he was a big boy so he had no need for it. By those standards I am probably still to this day NOT a big boy.
My parents can testify that those space ships were just about as elaborate as lego’s can get. He always played lego’s with me though. Well, I say play, but really I mean, I played while he would build something amazing, hand it to me (unless it was a small city in which case we would swap spots in the room) and he would begin building me something else even better than the last.
Grant truly was, The best older brother I could have ever asked for. He treated me with such respect, He would open my mom’s door, cherish my sisters, and he always looked to my dad like he was a super hero. That look was not misplaced though. If I strive to be more like Grant, just a little bit every day, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will do just fine in life.
I am going to miss him. I cannot even fathom how much more I can miss him than I do today, but every day I some how manage to miss him twice as much as the day before. There is honestly only one reason I have not lost my sanity over this. And that is because I know I will see my brother again. Some day I will get to hug him again in the presence of God and we will laugh and smile like this temporary separation never even occurred. The only reason I find a smile today, is because I know I will see him again, in a tomorrow to come.
So I’ll see you soon Grant. Until then I’ll help dad take care of mom, and you warn Jesus to oil the hinges of Heaven’s doors because im’a commin. I love you and miss you dude.
Charissa, (Grant’s 16 year old sister)…her Tribute to Grant, read at Grant’s Memorial Service
When writing this, I didn’t really know what to say. The reason for this, I didn’t know how to fit all who Grant was to me, his family, and anyone who met him, into a short couple minute speech. Grant was an extraordinary brother, son, and friend. There were countless times when he was growing up that I would watch him in amazement. He handled every situation with such grace and care. My siblings and I always joked that he was the perfect child, because I cant remember one time when Grant raised his voice or got angry at any of us kids and anyone who knows us knows we definitely gave him reasons to be angry. When I was born Grant was nine. However, even with this big gap in age, Grant never failed to show me he loved and cared about me. Grant made sure our relationship stayed strong as we both grew up. When I was little he would pick me up and hold me, when I got older he would play with me, and when i became a teenager he joked around with me. He never let our age matter.
I remember one year for New Year’s Eve, our family, was up north at a cabin with the Johnson’s. That day had been particularly tiring, so everyone went to bed besides me and Grant. Grant had a few guy friends over. And I still remember I was sitting on the couch by myself while all the guys were playing cards. Most guys Grant age would have asked me to leave, so he could hang with his friends. But not Grant. Grant asked me to play with them. So we sat up until after midnight playing cards. He never asked me to leave, and he included me in every conversation. That’s just who Grant was. And even though the pain of Grant being gone is unbearable at times I am so thankful for the time God did give us with Grant. I will miss you Grant, so much.
I remember one of the last times Grant came to town I had to go to school. My first class is math and I have to bring a scientific calculator everyday. To this day I don’t know how he did it, but he would type little notes in my calculator, so that each morning I could start my day with a note from my big brother. Most days the note was small. It would say something like: “Charissa” or “Your Face” (Which had been an inside joke between me and him for a while). But I will never forget the last note. The day after he left, I went to math class and opened my calculator and it said: “Charissa I Love You”. I almost started crying right there in math class. Again, this just shows what kind of brother Grant was, that he would take the time to write these little notes in my calculator.
Another example of Grant’s greatness as a brother, was one year when Colton, Brie, and my Mom went to six flags without me. I was too young, and the rides made Grant sick. I remember watching from Grant’s bedroom window and crying cause they were leaving me. And then Grant grabbed me really tightly and said: “I know you’re gonna miss them Charissa, but we’re gonna have so much fun while they’re gone that they’re gonna wish they never left”. And thats what we did. For the next few days Grant was the best big brother. He took me to Mcdonalds, played with me, talked with me, and took me to Freestone Park to feed the ducks. We spent hours sitting at the park feeding ducks and giving them names. Grant was only 17 years old, taking his 8 year old little sister to the park, and staying there for hours.
And yet another example of who Grant was, was that every night while he was in Architecture school where he was so busy that most nights he would only get 4 hours of sleep, he made time for me. Each night I would come into his room and sit and talk to him for a little while. And even though he was so busy, he never once kicked me out. Grant was an amazing man, and his memory will be cherished forever. He has been and always will be an amazing, Godly example of how a Christian should live their life.
On Tuesday, we were going through Grant’s belongings, when we came across his iPod. I immediately wanted to keep it so I could listen to the music he loved. After snatching it from my mom’s hand I noticed an engraving on the back of it that read : “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. This was such an encouragement to me. To know that I haven’t seen Grant for the last time, and to know I will see him in Heaven one day. So I wanted to end by thanking God. I thank God for giving me the time that I did have with Grant. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. And I want to thank God for defeating death so that I may see my big brother again.
I love and miss you Grant. But, I know God is good!