Thursday, February 9, 2012

Peace I Leave With You

I want to tell you about my Grandpa, Wayne Alma Burke. He's one of the strongest men I've known. When I think of him I just think of firmness, something solid and majestic as the mountains. Tall and quiet and firm. I remember him singing to me, I remember him teaching me to draw pine trees, I remember listening to him for hours as he'd tell some story or explain a concept in great detail. 
Grandpa Burke was an artist and a musician. He played every instrument, I think, but the three that come to mind are trombone, flute, and voice. As you'll see in the picture above, he played the mandolin! At least, I think that's what that is. He brought it to Family Camp one summer and played it for us, and afterwards he showed me how to play it. I don't remember how anymore, though. I remember him giving Victoria and Tobin trombone lessons, and teaching Gretchen things about the flute. He didn't play the oboe like me, but I remember us talking about it and the things he taught me in other areas of music flowed over into my oboe playing.

Grandpa helped enlarge my love for music, and I will always be grateful for that. I'm so blessed to have been given a natural talent that is so inspiring and alleviating and telling. I love that when I perform music, or even when I'm just listening to or practicing music, I can feel Grandpa with me. It's like he's a part of the music.

Click the black box to play song if the video doesn't pop up --^
This isn't a recording of him, but Grandpa Burke once sang this song at a funeral. Probably at other funerals, too, but I just remember one. I think it was my great-grandmother's, his mother's. This is a beautiful song by George Dyer called "In My Father's House Are Many Mansions." I bought it one year ago today when I was thinking of Grandpa. Every time I listen to this song I can hear my grandpa singing it, and whenever I'm going through a difficult time, the lyrics of this song come to me, in my grandfather's voice:

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you: 
Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid...

Four years ago today my Grandpa Burke died of cancer. The months of prayer and fasting and hoping leading up to that day were very hard. They also come to me now as serene memories, despite the sadness of losing a loved one. Those times were hard, but filled with peace. They unified my family. They made the love within my family be realized, and grow. It's a miracle that this could have happened, even if it wasn't the miracle we were hoping for.

I can't believe that four years have already passed without him. I love that I have things that remind me of Grandpa. I love that every time someone reads John 14:27 in church I can hear Grandpa's voice singing to me. I love that when I play music I can use techniques that he taught me so that he is a part of my music. I love going to an orchestra concert and feeling connected to my grandfather who loved music so much, as if he's never really too far away. Because, really, he's not. 

That's the legacy that Grandpa Burke left for me. A legacy of peace. A legacy of music. The legacy of the hope and love and comfort that come with that very peace and music that he left for me. I'm grateful today for the man that he was, and that he will always be a part of my life. Forever and ever.


Kristen said...

This makes me happy.

That scripture is one of my favorites.

Heidi said...

Wow! Lovely, moving blog Jilli! That instrument Grandpa taught you at camp is a dulcimer. It was originally Aunt Winona's, who once taught me to play it, and gave it to me later. I don't remember how to play it either. I left it at Grandma and Grandpa's, since I didn't remember how to use it. I figured someone who COULD play it should have it.
I have Grandpa's version "Many Mansions" on my computer - Blaine took it off of the CD of Grandma Ott's funeral and made a digital copy for me. I thought of linking it to your Facebook post earlier, but didn't know how. Thanks again for your wonderful moving blog. Grandpa would be pleased and very touched!

Jilli-Billi said...

Ah, dulcimer! I remember now. I knew it was something cooler-sounding than mandolin. Thanks :)

EpicThought said...

I wish I knew my grandparents better. I'm jealous.