“I hope you know how much I love you and your family.”
It was a heartfelt statement I got used to hearing from Alan. A verbal expression from his heart that made me smile.
He was sunshine for my soul. Why?
Because he saw the good in me and my family. And told me about it.
Who doesn’t want to hear that?
In a world filled with negativity, criticism and pessimism we all need to hear that maybe we are doing okay. Maybe even better than okay. And we all heard it.
I was fortunate enough to spend a few vacation days last summer with Alan and his kids. He wanted to take his kids to a treasured BYU football game. Sharing his passion with the next generation. We welcomed him to stay with us.
The next day we suggested they come along for a fishing adventure with the grandkids. A couple of fishing poles, a few snacks and a small pond in the mountains of Midway, Utah.
Now a treasured memory of time. And it was great.
Because Alan told me it was.
Everything noticed. Details appreciated. An ability to see greatness in a simple event. And then remind me of it.
Alan was always thinking of others.
I have a friend whose husband died suddenly. Alan was the first to call. Tender shared remembrances to a grieving widow.
There was a young man trying to find his way in the world. Alan wrapped his arms around him and taught him about love. About family. About looking up and being the kind of person Alan knew he could be.
Beyond the open expressions of gratitude and love for us, Alan had a unique gift. His gift was recognizing our gifts.
And then telling us about them.
Whether I had poured my soul into performing a piece of music or prayed for the right words to teach from the pulpit ... Alan saw it.
Whether I had quietly served a friend in need or helped to lift another’s burden ... somehow Alan knew it.
And he honored that in a quiet expression. Letting me know that he noticed. His loving expression and witness made it real.
Even when I hadn’t recognized it.
Alan was a powerful presence. He served everyone. Like the Savior did.
Strong beliefs and testimony about his Savior. Not afraid to share. We all knew where he stood with that. It made him genuine.
I think that’s why his words sunk deep.
When Alan died, social media exploded. I remember reading posts and memories of him thinking – wow – he didn’t just love everybody.
He told everybody.
In a selfish world where most are looking for rewards – Alan gave.
And so we all feel just a little lost. That confirming voice that we are good. That text or that phone call or that pat on the back. Oh – that will be missed.
But have we lost?
I think we have found.
Found an example to follow. Found a new desire and strength in ourselves to love as openly as Alan did. Found lingering memories of laughter and love with Alan. Found a resolve to be just a little better.
To be the kind of person that Alan believed we were.
To those of us who had the honor of knowing Alan - we received a gift.
We matter. And we know we matter.
Because Alan told us so.