Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Family Name

This week, I traveled up to Canada to be with my family, as my grandfather passed away last Saturday. My grandpa Bill was my last remaining grandparent, and he was probably the one I had spent the most time with over the years. Yesterday I attended a visitation along with most of my extended family, to honor and remember my grandfather.

My Grandpa Bill with his sons Phil and Kevin.
My Grandpa Bill with sons Phil and Kevin

At this visitation, I had many people offer condolences and give friendly hugs to comfort me, and while I appreciated the thoughtfulness, I sometimes sensed a bit of a disconnect between what I was feeling, and what I know these kind people imagined I was feeling. At that moment, I wasn't so much grieved as I was inspired... and in awe of the effect my grandfather's life had the people around him.

A great many people loved my grandfather, and he will be missed by many... myself very much included... I remember very clearly the sort of man my grandfather was. If he had been at this visitation, he would been cracking jokes, waving a video camera around looking for the most exciting part of the room, and basking in the affection of all the people gathered there to remember him. I somehow doubt he would have been dour or subdued. He would have been the life of the party! He might have even rattled off a slightly insensitive death-related pun or two. Haha.

More than anything, I know he would have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support that made its way into that funeral home. I was actually somewhat taken aback by it. In truth, I had seriously underestimated the immense impact he had on so many over the years. He had 8 children (7 with spouses), 13 grandchildren (5 with spouses), and 1 great-grandson. That's a family of 34 (I hope I got that math right).... all of whom he loved very dearly.

The passions and gifts of all these family members can be traced back to grandpa in one way or another. Mine is a family of photographers, musicians, adventure-seekers, and entrepreneurs... with incredible creativity, resourcefulness, playfulness, and generosity. My grandpa had all of these qualities in spades. Over the years he crafted inspirational plaques, shot photographs, sang in a 4-piece quartet, played many instruments, shot and edited video, flew ultralight aircraft, shot arial photography from a blimp, and so much more.... All of us Steingards take after him in one way or another, and most of us follow in some of his many footsteps. It's staggering to see how one man's life can have such a profound impact on so so many.

Most of the Steingard family lives in the Canadian town of Barrie. I didn't live in Barrie until I was about 18, so I didn't experience the full effect of being a Steingard in Barrie until that point. After moving into town, I was shocked at how the name Steingard opened doors there. Upon learning my last name, people would immediately smile, shake my hand, and regale me with a wonderful story of how they know my grandfather, or one of my other family members. It seemed there was not a life in Barrie that was not touched by his... and the good will my grandfather earned is somehow passed down through the family name. I cannot imagine a more wonderful inheritance.

I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to reconnect with my extended family, and regain an appreciation for how amazing they are.... and how fun it is to see little hints of my grandfather in each of us. He was one of the most adventurous people I've ever known, and the effect his incredible life had on others will be felt for many, many years to come.



Star said...

Im sorry to hear of your lose.

Living in Barrie myself I have to agree ..the name Steingard is well known :D

Morgan said...

Your Grandfather sounded like an amazing person! I can't wait to meet him some day (in heaven)!
Praying for all your family!

YES! said...

Wow! It is important to leave an impact on someone's life. I would want someone to remember me as someone who pursued God's ways and encouraged others to do that. It is important that we all leave a legacy for others to remember...

Amanda said...

Jonathan! Your Grandpa took many photos of myself, the Hakamu and my wedding in 1978...he was a very treasured man . I know most of your Aunts & Uncles. Wish I knew about the visitation.
Mandy Jeffs