Last week, my grandpa Rex LeRoy Christensen passed away. He was 92 years old. In his beautiful obituary, you can read about the many amazing accomplishments in life such as a missionary, a bishop, a patriarch, and a war hero. It also mentions that for 35 years, he taught seminary and institute for CES. This is something I knew about grandpa, but as far back as I can remember, he was a retired seminary teacher.
I may not have witnessed him teach a seminary or institute class, but that doesn’t mean that my grandpa wasn’t a teacher to me. As it was his chosen profession, being a teacher was not just a job, but a way of life. As any teacher knows, learning lessons from life experiences and being able to teach those lessons learned, is a never ending process. When I was little, I remember listening to grandpa talk. I guess when I was young, I never thought of it as “teaching,” but as grandpa just talking with us. He would tell stories, or tell us what he learned yesterday when reading, or tell us about some of the many people he had the opportunity to give patriarchal blessings to. I loved listening to grandpa talk.
One time, my brothers and sisters and I were gathered downstairs in his basement watching a movie. At the end of the movie, we began to run and jump around, which resulted in a light fixture overhead breaking at the hand of my older brother. Grandpa came downstairs to inquire what happened, and then calmly stated that we would need to buy a new one. So he took my older brother to the store and together they picked out a new light fixture, and my older brother paid for it. My older brother was in high school and didn’t have much money. But my grandpa took an opportunity to teach responsibility in a loving way to my older brother. And to us younger siblings who observed, we learned to never be too rowdy in grandpa’s house because if you break something, grandpa will make you pay for it!
When I was in high school, we moved about 20 minutes from grandpa’s house, which gave me the opportunity to see him more. As he was getting older, my mom volunteered me to help them more often. This usually meant mowing their lawn. At first, I wasn’t happy about it because I thought I had better things to do on a summer Saturday. But I soon started to look forward to mowing grandpa’s lawn. Of course, my grandpa insisted on paying me, which I happily accepted, teaching me the positive effects of hard work. But more than the money, I enjoyed spending time afterwards picking apples from their trees, drinking lemonade, eating a delicious pie made by grandma, and of course, eating ice cream!
Mmmmmm… yes. Ice cream. Something else I learned from grandpa. You can never have too much ice cream. Every time we went over, grandpa brought out the gallons and gallons of ice cream. It was amazing!
There is a hymn from an old hymn book entitled “The Teacher’s Work is Done.” I had never heard it before, but when I learned that my grandpa had wanted it sung at his funeral, I had the chance to learn it. Originally it was written as a beautiful male quartet, so I decided to take that quartet, and add a piano part and a soprano solo part. I’ve uploaded my arrangement of “The Teacher’s Work is Done” on my website under the “Free Music” heading. I also created a quick audio version to demonstrate my arrangement, and share the beauty of the song.
My grandpa served as patriarch and he gave 950 patriarchal blessings. 950! Including my own patriarchal blessing. It truly amazes me. He was always very close to the Lord. If he was not giving or typing out patriarchal blessings, he was studying and reading and learning. A teacher never stops learning. He read and read and read until literally his eyes could not read anymore. Then he would listen to scriptures and books and talks. He listened and listened and listened until he literally could not listen anymore. His life was one spent in the service of others and the service of God. I hope and pray that I can live as fulfilling of a live as my grandpa Rex LeRoy Christensen. I will miss you grandpa. You can rest now, your work is done.
“We feel it, while we miss the hand,
That made us brave to bear,
Per-chance in that near touching hand,
His work did wait him there,
Per-chance when death, it’s change hath wrought,
And this brief race is run,
His voice again shall teach Who thought,
The teacher’s work was done.”