He had the biggest heart, just bursting with love. When you spent time with him, even a moment, you were uplifted. He always had a smile and a witty greeting to offer. “Hi Grandpa. How ya doing?” I would ask.. “Great, but I’m going to get better!” or “If I was doing any better, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.” He had these beautiful, blue smiling eyes. And a friendly, slightly off center smile.
These last few years he has been going downhill; hurting, fatigued, sometimes out of breath. But the last thing he ever wanted to talk about was himself and his problems. He and Grandma always asked about how I was and how Pitt was. They were completely interested in our lives, remembering details from previous conversations and sharing stories about other family members.
He could connect with children in amazing ways. Even just at the dinner table, he would catch their eye and make them laugh or help them find the hidden pack of M&Ms in his sock or quarter behind his ear. I remember when Emmett was 2, Granpda was visiting and all Emmett wanted to do was show him his toys. I tried to distract Emmett or excuse Grandpa from playing with him. But nothing would stop Grandpa from getting down on the ground, right on Emmett’s level to play. Grandpa hooped and hollered about this little ball and hammer ramp for 30 minutes with Emmett. It was unreal. Emmett was having a blast too! Grandpa loved his great-grandkids (30 of them) and wanted to see them all the time. How fortunate my cousins and I have been to have our kids build a true relationship with Grandpa Evan. They will miss him so much.
His life was based around helping others. I was always amazed to hear, yet another story from someone about how Evan and Jean had changed their life. He lived close to the spirit and knew how to step into someone’s life at just the right time and in just the right way. Luckily, I was born into his life and I called him Grandpa from day one. But many have adopted him as their Grandpa too, and Grandma Jean right there by his side.
He loved to work, a trait perhaps lost on my generation (or at least me) But he always had a project going. When I was a kid, we grew up 10 blocks away from Grandpa and Grandma so many Saturday mornings they would have us over for breakfast. We would have sourdough pancakes. While Grandma was cooking, Grandpa would come in the door fresh off his morning jog. I can still picture his smile and awesome 80s jogging suit and Reeboks. He didn’t waste a moment worrying about himself, he jumped right in, greeting everyone and helping Grandma with the breakfast. After breakfast, he usually had some jobs to do in the yard. I remember pulling weeds and planting flowers, but mostly rolling down their grass hill and climbing on the trailer in the empty lot next door with Craig and Bryan. In 2006 Pitt and I moved into our house we planned to paint our house sage green, paint the windows, trim, doors and hang new shutters. We asked our families to help. The morning of the house painting, Grandpa was the first one here. He drove from Logan and knocked on our front door. I scrambled out of bed and opened the door to bright-eyed Evan, sitting on my porch, with his own paintbrushes in hand. “Rise and shine” could have been his life motto. I learned a lot in that moment, feeling a little foolish that I was still in my pajamas. He didn’t say a word about it though, just gave me a hug and asked me where he could start. It was so great to have him there. He pitched right in, painted all our shutters and kept everyone’s mood light and cheerful throughout the project. I think he loved it. He never wanted to miss a thing. After he got placed on Hospice care, he was sure to tell my mom that he didn’t plan to miss anything. “I’m going to everything,” he said. Including baby blessings far away, missionary farewells, Frozen birthday parties and Memorial Day in Portage. Those are days none of us will ever forget. He and Grandma’s presence is always special.
Now he is gone and I find myself lingering on those sweet memories. Even as I’m writing, more rise to the surface.
He had kidney failure and opted-out of dialysis. His end-of-life was quite predictable and progressive and he was able to say goodbye to many friends and family. Grandpa was supportive of all our endeavors, dutifully attending graduations year after year-he even went to the ones at Mountain Crest. So the least I could do was be there for him, when he finally let us know he needed help.
I was fortunate enough to be with him almost until his last breath. He was surrounded by family, at one point 18 of us in the room with him, even my Emmett. He couldn’t talk but I could tell he wanted to. He wanted us to stay, he wanted to visit and tell us how much he loves us. Grandpa, we know you do. You told us all the time that you loved us, no matter what. Your love was and is always there. We know and we will never forget it. No one loved us better and we miss you already.