Monday, December 22, 2008

John Edward Holden: December 27, 1933 - December 20, 2008

My grandpa passed away, somewhat suddenly, Saturday morning around 4 am. We haven't received the results from the autopsy yet, but we think he passed away due to a heart attack and fell down the stairs. My grandma found him there and just laid with him for about 3 hours before she called anyone - she said she just wanted to be with him. Having someone that you love pass away is always hard and I tend drive myself crazy with regrets... which I know I can't change, but it's been pretty hard. I remember a few weeks ago when Matt and I went over for dinner and I spoke with papa about taking a trip to the family history library so that he could show me how to do family history work - something that he spent a lot of his life devoted to. I can't help but think of how many happy souls were there to greet him as he passed through the veil, one of them being my brother Paul. What a joyous reunion it must have been. Then I remember even more recently than that when I went over to practice piano and papa was sick so he was laying down. I played for a while and then went into see him and he told me how beautiful it was and that I should come play for him more often. He must have known he was going to leave this earth soon because we found a list of hymns that he wants at his funeral in his office down stairs, "I need thee every hour" "God be with you till we meet again" and "Oh my father". Matt and I and Sterling and Hayley put together a short movie with some pictures of his life yesterday. We are having the funeral on Saturday because there are quite a few people flying in from Canada for the services.
As I thought about something that I wanted to post on here to pay tribute to his great life I remembered the amazing book that he wrote and had published about 2005 titled "From My Fathers With Love: Family History and Other Miracles." This book is full of stories about his life and family history work that send chills down my spine. He donated all the proceeds to helping families around the world get to the temple. I thought I would share one of the stories he wrote... any errors you find are my doing in retyping it. And I promise you wont regret reading...

The Fireplace Fan - by John Edward Holden

"The fireplace fan in our Highland home had never really worked properly since the day it was installed. One time it would run and the next time, it would simply refuse and play dead - "extremely temperamental" would be an appropriate and accurate description, during the first few years when we occupied our home. Finally, about 1986, it simply "gave up the ghost" and quite completely. I checked the connections and even installed a new switch, but it was all to no avail. The fan simply refused to work. Over the years, I eventually forgot about it.

One night, during the winter of 1991-1992, following the completion of our evening meal, I sat down at the dining room table to review my family history files, correspondence, and notes. At that particular time, I was making a list of all the children I had been able to identify who died prior to reaching the eighth birthday. Some had died within a few minutes or hours following their birth. One son fell into a well and drowned the very day before his eighth birthday.

At that point in time, I had been able to identify a considerable number of these children who had not been sealed to their parents. Ove the ensuing years, many more woulod be identified. I recall thinking how very blessed I was in that so moany people with whom I had corresponded had sent me hundreds of pages of information. For a moment, I closed my eyes and quietly contemplated the joy and happiness that parents beyond the veil must surely experience as these dear little ones are sealed to them for eternity.

I thought of a young husband and a distant cousin. William Holden lost his first wife, Mary Wing Dodge, only six months after they were married. Three years later, he married Isabella Greene, and they became the parents of three children. Then, tragedy struck once again. Within a single two-moth period, William Holden lost his second wife and all three of their children - ages two, four, and six. It is difficult to imagine the despair and mental anguish that must have surely pervaded the very heart and soul of that father. It is recorded that about six months later, William Holden also died of what was called "brain fever." I suspect that he died from a broken heart.

As I pondered the dreadful burden of loss and the loneliness which this young father must have surely felt, I closed my eyes for a few moments, concentrated, and tried to put myself in his situation - to image his innermost feelings and emotions. I felt a lump in my throat, and tears started to form in my eyes. Then, for just a fleeting instant, I thought I felt his presence.

Without warning, I was suddenly jolted back to reality by a loud thump. Our family portrait hanging on the wall just to my right, had fallen. (Our beautifully framed family picture hung in the dining room, with the edge of the picture about fifteen inches left of the wall switch that was connected to the fireplace fan.) It had struck the wooden baseboard, then the carpeted floor.

June had heard the noise and came into the room to see what had happened. I sat in the chair, staring at the picture that was now resting on the floor and leaning against the wall. Then I heard it... the fireplace fan was running, and the wall switch was in the "up" or the "on" position. How could a falling picture, fifteen inches away from a wall switch, turn the switch on? Neither of us had any idea as to what had just occurred, but there was a great aura of peace, solitude, and love that permeated the entire room.

We checked the picture frame. The wire and hooks were intact and securely attached. The large wall hook was likewise solidly in place. I replaced the picture on the wall hook, and I then turned the firplace fan switch off and on several times. The fan worked perfectly. We resided in our home in Highland until the summer of 1999, and not once during that seven-year period did the fireplace fan fail to run. Again, I have no logical explanation whatsoever as to how this even transpired. I only know that it did ovvur, and it occurred exactly as documented above.

Every time I turned that fan on, I could not help but think of those little children who had been "taken home" prior to reaching their age of accountability. What great love our Father in Heaven and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, must have for those little ones.

I will never forget the evening in the Mount Timpanogos Temple, when we participated in the sealing of that little family together. I felt the love and the presence of their spirit personages.

I know from the bottom of my heart, and without the slightest doubt or hesitation, that the veil between the spirit world and this earthly sphere is very thin, indeed. Those departed loved ones and much closer to us than we realize; and at certain special times, their very presence and influence is felt with absolute certainty. At such times, faith is superseded by unconditional knowledge."

It gives me the chills to think of the truth of that last statement. I can't help but think of how grateful I am for the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. I know that this life is not the end and I know that he is always near. I love you grandpa.


Ryan, Melissa, and Family said...

That is such a nice picture of both of them...I had to use it too:) Thanks for the nice post.

Lexi said...

It's hard to lose loved ones, but its so comforting to know that they are reunited with people who went before them. So touching how your grandma stayed with him for a few hours, so much love.

Bryan and Sarah said...

Thank you for the picture - I borrowed it too! Also, thank you for the post; I love that story from Grandpa's book. I'm glad that you and sterling are making a video - it will be great to watch and remember. I think you were an excellent granddaughter to grandma and grandpa. I'm looking forward to seeing you at the funeral!