Leo passed away this month and his celebration of life was this weekend. Although the death of a loved one is always difficult and sad, this weekend was full of stories, pictures, home videos, laughs, memories, tears, food, music, and lots of family time.
I had to privilege to meet Grandpa Leo and associate with him at Riding/Adams family gatherings over the last year. Grandpa Leo was a WWII Vet. He liked to tell stories and even went around to schools in Oregon to talk about Patriotism and the war. Even at nearly 87 years old (he would be 87 tomorrow) he had the energy and drive to go out and talk to kids about what it means to be an American. I never had the opportunity to hear one of his talks at a school but the first time I met him, as well as a few other times, he told me some war stories. He was very kind, always upbeat and happy and loving. He had hugs for everyone even me from the first time I met him. He always told me "It's so good to see you."
I remember one time I was in the kitchen during a family gathering at the Riding's home. Grandpa Leo came up to me and asked how my relationship with Andrea was progressing. He encouraged me to keep getting to know her and spending time with her and if the relationship progressed toward marriage, no one would be more approving than he. He really made me feel accepted as do all of Andrea's family.
This weekend I spent a lot of time with the family listening to stories and looking at pictures. I got to know a lot more about Grandpa Leo. He had a huge impact on those around him.
It reminded me of when I lost my Grandpa Morton. My Grandpa was a strong influence in my life and taught me a lot of things. He was a great example to me and I still miss him a lot. I wish Andrea could have met him. Interestingly, Andrea's dad Paul used to work at the Temple with my Grandpa and Andrea's Aunt Loranie knew him since he was the Patriarch in their stake.
Despite the circumstances it was great to spend time with Andrea's family and meet a few relatives that I hadn't met yet. We had a lot of fun and ate a lot of food. Andrea got put in charge of meals for the week. She did a phenomenal job and is a great cook. (I am one lucky guy!!)