"In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured!"
~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Be

I found out yesterday that an old man I know from home passed away earlier this week. His name is Chuck Barron.

Death of a close loved one is not something I have experienced yet, fortunately. But there is still always a sense of loss that follows the death of someone I know, and gratitude for the life they lived. Especially for this man.

Honestly, I have hardly thought about him at all for the past few years since I haven't been living at home, and had all but forgotten about him until I heard that he had passed away. Then I started thinking back and remembering all the things he did for me through the years and the difference he made in how I felt about myself.

Whenever he saw me - even if I was at the other end the long church hallway - he would light up and take off towards me as fast as he could with his cane and give me a great big hug and an even bigger smile and tell me how beautiful I was and how glad he always is to see me.

I realized yesterday that I'm pretty sure he's the first person I remember ever telling me I was pretty. And he's definitely the only person who ever told me that consistently growing up and made me feel like I actually was. I'm sure my parents told me I was pretty at some point, but they really aren't the type to hand out touchy-feely warm fuzzy compliments like that - or weren't that I remember back then - plus I was a rather unfortunate-looking little girl for quite some time, so that made it all the more meaningful to me. How can you not feel special when someone makes an effort to talk to you at every church event, and sometimes comes rushing over to catch you right before you leave and tell you he just couldn't let you leave before he got a chance to say "Hi" to his favorite beautiful girl and give you a hug and tell you how lovely you looked that day?

And even more than just making me feel special and happier, he did that for everyone. I read through some things others posted about him on facebook, and it was really touching to see how he affected all of us. What an amazing man! These words about him are posted on facebook where they'll soon be replaced with new posts, but I want to remember them, so I'm including some of them here.

This first one is from me.

"For as long as I can remember he used to joke about his bald head and tell me and my sister we had such pretty long hair, and say we should teach him how to do his hair like that sometime. I'm pretty sure every girl will agree, he had a way of making us all feel noticed and loved and special and worth being complimented. He was always teasing and flirting and smiling and telling me I was beautiful, and joking that if he was just a half a century younger he would ask me for my number :) He made me birthday cards and Christmas cards on his computer each year, and after I left for BYU he started sending me funny/cute e-cards periodically. Since I rarely ever saw my real grandparents growing up, my parents deemed him our adopted grandpa, and he used to come and watch my ballets, and come share holiday meals with us, and stuff like that. He was one of those people who just made you feel better when you talked to him, even if it was just for a minute, and I'm pretty sure he always left people happier than he found them. Or at least he always did for me." 

And I'm leaving the rest anonymous. If you see something you posted and would like your name added or your words removed, just let me know.

"He was a very special person, and I know not to just me...I consider him my adopted Grandfather. He loved and took care of all of us C2 kids though. Brother Chuck Barron is very loved and will be missed very much!"

"He was like a grandfather to all of us. He sure knew how to make a girl feel beautiful"

"Chuck Barron, you are an example of strength, endurance, and grace amidst immense adversity. Your kindness to my family and so many others' challenges us all to serve our fellow man charitably. Love you." 

"He will be truly missed. I'm sure there was a great homecoming on the other side."

"One of my heroes passed away today. Chuck Barron, a man who went out of his way to let me know he cared. To most it'd be a small gesture, but at that point in my life it meant the world to me and I will never forget it. The world has lost a great man."

"Sundays won't be the same without your smile, hugs and kind words."

"A great man, honest, true and humble! God speed Brother Barron the Lord's kingdom is brighter with your smile and open arms. May we always remember you..."

"I loved that man!!!! He was so dear and always so cheerful!!! He will be missed!!!"

"We will miss you terribly. Thank you for your love of those that most often went unnoticed to everyone else. You always made everyone feel special."

"I have a feeling not only his funeral will be packed and filled with loved ones and people whose lives he touched, but his welcome home was also packed with the same! He was truly an angel on this earth. To me...his countenance already reflected Christ in his interactions with his fellow man...Always willing to help and speak kind words!"

"Dear Brother Barron, I will forever have fond memories of your kindness, your sweetness, and your unconditional love to all. You will be missed, but I know you haven't gone far. You just finally figured out the best way to give all of us a hug at once. We love you."

The world lost a great man this week, but he touched and bettered SOO many lives while he was here! What an inspiration to us all! I hope I can be just like him (well, except hopefully with more hair :) and bring sunshine so memorably and consistently into the lives of those around me!

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