“We without roots and branches cannot be saved”. (Elder Quentin L Cook, "Roots and Branches", General Conference, April 2014)
“Hey grandpa, did you know that Ivan Burton Cutler loved to drink root beer instead of doing his chores? They also made their own root beer!”
Tank then described this photo and a few other things he had learned in Grandpa Ivan's autobiography. My dad just smiled, perhaps at the idea of Tank using his father’s full name, and then he told him how Grandpa Ivan didn’t like to do chores. Tank nodded and said he preferred root beer as well.
I don’t know if Grandpa Ivan played tennis at this point, but I loved seeing the net in the background on the family tennis court. Tennis would become a beloved pastime not only for my grandfather and father, but many of my children as well.
I was thinking about what I wanted to say in this post today after I had spent some time this morning reading my grandfather's journal that he kept the couple of years prior to his death. I knew I was going to write about him today, his younger years from his autobiography, so I was a little perplexed as to why I got caught up in this older journal, especially because I had spent the couple of precious alone hours reading it instead of getting the myriad of things done from my list. As I was sitting eating lunch with Loaf I remembered one sentence from the 72 pages I had just read and knew I needed to find it, or course I couldn't remember where I had seen it.
I opened up the document and using the track pad, swiped my fingers forward and the pages scrolled effortlessly until finally stopping. As I looked at the printed words in the center of the screen was the exact line I was looking for:
My grandfather had written this sentence on July 29, 1979. He died less that 2 months later on September 26, 1979 and that little scrolling-finding miracle showed me that God wanted me to learn something today. Grandpa wrote his autobiography in the year proceeding his unexpected death at the age of 55. A year that he purposefully spent trying to draw closer to the Lord and listen to the promptings and revelation of the Spirit as he recorded time and again. His personal history has become a testimony to me the of the Lord's mercy and wisdom, for it has blessed the lives not only of his children and grandchildren, but now another generation of great grandchildren are learning from his life and testimony.
One such example is found in Tank. He has written a book report about his great grandfather when asked to read an autobiography. He has scoured the internet looking for more information about the ship and locations in which he served in the navy. Grandpa Ivan will continue to influence his life for years to come.
What if Grandpa hadn't listened to those spiritual promptings? What if he hadn't taken the time in his busy schedule of it was exhausting to read all that he did each week, to write and share those things that would be lost a few months later.
Would my son have learned that Grandpa struggled in reading when he was in second grade, but became a famous scientist giving my son hope with his educational struggles. Would he have found camaraderie. not only with his great grandfather who disliked chores, but with his Grandfather who admitted that he too disliked doing chores. Will that help my son learn to work harder? Will it help him think about Ivan Burton Cutler when his jobs seem too hard?
Today a simple post turned into a witness and lesson that I hadn't anticipated. Today I have reflected on what I need to do to help my children not only know their ancestors better, but what I want to be sure and say to my family; for life is fragile. Today I love this dear Grandfather in a new way.
In his own words:
"In preparing this personal history, I have only one objective. This is to bear testimony to my posterity in such a way as to strengthen them spiritually. No earthly honor would be as great as a righteous posterity who would love the Lord, God of Israel and obey his commandments. My environment during my youth was different than yours. I was born after World War I with a childhood surrounded by the Great Depression. I was in my first year at University when our country entered World War II. Even though my experiences and trials have been different, I can assure you that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to your problems as it has to mine. It is the only path to happiness in this or any age of the world."
Thank you for blessing my life. Thank you for continuing to bless the lives of my children. Thank you for listening to the Spirit and writing words that would change our lives. Thank you for your testimony. Your influence is profound and I only knew you for a brief 6 years.
I love you.