I tried to get through the whole thing, but couldn't...
"Living more than 3000 miles away from home many people in my life tend to ask about my family... I tell them of my grandparents first, then on to stories about my Mom and I. Once they hear that my mother is no longer living that's where the conversation usually stops.
They ask what it's like to lose someone that close to you, and I'm very open to telling them. I say that at first it's hard, there is pain, then there are thousands of details, memories and things about them that you probably would have never noticed had you not been having this powerful experience. Soon after though there is a settling down, an almost distilling of these thousands of thoughts and feelings flying around and it's as everything in their life settles into place and you can see the true essence of this person's life and it meaning to you.
I was leaving Santa Barbara when my grandmother called, we talked about the details of my trip back for my grandfather's funeral service and she said that she would like me to say something about him at the service. For most of the six hours your driving along the coast on the edge of cliffs and mountains looking out into the Pacific Ocean, it is quite beautiful and a quintessentially American sight to see. He would have loved it and I thought no better place to distill down all of the thoughts and feelings that were rushing around in my mind.
Memories were abound I remembered everything from the smallest details to the greatest stories. I remembered the sound of him shoveling the drive way out in the winter, the smell of the inside of his truck, everything from the longest lectures on safe driving to the short little "-ey!" that we would say to each other to greet each other and acknowledge that, yes both of us were in fact in the same room.
Overarching all of these many smaller things was the sense that from day one to today, I have always felt he could fix or build anything. From building everything from my tree fort to skateboard ramps, to putting new shingles on the roof to constructing a shed, from getting my mini bike running to showing me the right way to change the oil in my car. Anything could be fixed or constructed, and where any of that would be happening there would be ample time and space for me to be holding a bag of nails or a flashlight... And then there was the grief I'd get, "raise the light up, stop moving, you're standing in your own light..." and it wasn't limited to the task at hand... "stand up straight, your pants are too big, your pants are too tight..."
As I drove I kept going over these moments that kept flying around in my head and as they started to settle a quote I recently heard came to mind that said "In the end a man will be judged not by what he tears down but by what he builds..." and at this point I made the realization that there was more being built in these moments than a skateboard ramp or a wood shed. Sure he couldn't fix everything because there are a few people that cannot be here that if he had the power to fix, he would have, but he could build anything, he built this amazing family and he built me into the man I am today... and that's a story I am proud to tell to anyone."
Carl Eugene Stoner May 3 1929–May 7 2009