I’ve been remembering my Grandfather lately. For some reason, 7.5 years after his death, several events have resurfaced his memory, and I miss him. It started with our family reunion, when many of my relatives flew in from England and we came together at my Grandmothers house to spend time together. A few years before my Grandfather died, through the wildness of the internet, my Grandfather found a long-lost half-brother who he didn’t know existed. They connected, my Grandpa’s half-brother flew across the ocean so they could meet, and as luck would have it, their resemblance, mannerisms, facial expressions etc, is uncanny. Fast-forward 10 years, and 7.5 years after my Grandfathers death, and sure enough, he attends the family reunion with his wife and daughter, who also looks uncannily like my Grandfather. First tug of my heart.
Second: I attended my cousins wedding, and there is a slideshow shown at the reception with lots of childhood photos. Sure enough, photos show up on the big screen with my Grandfather smiling and playing with his grandchildren, and tears well up in my throat. I am not prepared for the suddenness of such deep sadness in my heart, the emotion that I can only name grief. I can only define grief as missing someone who I love so deeply, who I wish I could have one more cup of tea and conversation with.
Third: my neighbor took my family and I out on his sailboat on a beautiful August day. His boat was very similar to my grandparents boat, and sitting on the boat basking in the sun, all of my wonderful childhood memories of being on the boat with my grandfather came flooding back. As I looked out at the beautiful lake and up at the wide-open blue blue sky and as I looked at my family, I felt thankful in that moment and a strong sense of peace washed over me.
My Grandfather was an intense person, and not always the easiest person to be around. He was opinionated, and lived life with gusto. My Grandfather never took a second of life for granted, and taught me to live with conviction and care deeply about my life and my precious time on this earth. My Grandfather was an outspoken activist, who was not afraid to take risks and speak his mind. My Grandfather was a long-time Anglican Christian, but he had a conflicting relationship with his faith. He wanted so badly for the church to change their views, especially in being accepting of homosexuality as well as recognizing the multi-truths of other faiths and that Christianity is not the only route to God. I remember attending church with my Grandfather and him arguing with the clergy members, as well as muttering under his breath to me when certain parts of the service were not ‘in line with the times’.
Of course, in writing this piece, I decided to google my Grandfathers name (Eric Perryman), with little hope that he would have a presence on the internet 7.5 years after he has passed away. Sure enough, I found two letters that he wrote to the Editor of the Anglican Journal, advocating for change in views. I can hear his articulate, angry (but trying to be diplomatic) voice in these letters that he wrote:
Letters to the Editor – May 1999 – http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/letters-to-the-editor-564
“Dear editor, Congratulations for publishing the March opinion piece on collegiality by Canon Gordon Baker, and the editorial on the need for open debate within the Anglican Church on potentially divisive issues. The various points of view on any divisive issue need to be discussed in all segments of the church long before any motion reaches the floor of a diocesan or general synod. If the democratic process is to be followed, then it becomes questionable as to whether collegiality within the House of Bishops can be used as a reason to override the prevailing viewpoint of other parts of the Anglican community. The recent example in the Diocese of New Westminster where a motion agreeing with the blessing of same-sex unions was passed by clergy and lay delegates at their synod, yet put on hold by their bishop, is a case in point. There, democracy and collegiality were mutually exclusive. I have asked our bishop to provide us, the laity, with documented reasoning, which led him to vote against the blessing of same-sex unions. To date he has not responded. He is the leader of his flock and therefore surely has a responsibility to give us his reasoning even though this may be different from other bishops. We, the laity, would be helped immensely in our struggle with divisive issues if bishops would trust us and share discussions and differing viewpoints with us. I hope our bishops will recognize that the time has gone when people were content to leave their brains at the church door”. Eric Perryman Corbyville, Ont
Letters to the Editor – March 1998, http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/letters-to-the-editor-31
“Dear editor, I am writing to praise Bishop Michael Ingham’s fortitude and honesty in writing his latest book, Mansions of the Spirit. W. Turner (February letters) took exception to this book because it was allegedly not based on the biblical truths. What are these biblical truths which state that Christianity is the only road to God, that Christians will be given preferential treatment in the next life, that other people not of the Christian faith will be dealt with accordingly? As more and more regions of the world become multicultural and multifaith, Christians have to face the existence of other religious faiths and must be prepared to discuss whether the great religions of the world are all connected to the same truth. In the same way we must be prepared to recognize the connection between interfaith reality and interfaith conflict. We should be thankful to Bishop Ingham for providing us with such a well thought out book to help us become informed, caring and unbiased Christians. I invite Mr. Turner to provide us with documentation illustrating those biblical truths referred to.” Eric Perryman Corbyville, Ont.
He never gave up. I am not sure if the Anglican Church ever moved forward on these issues or not, but I do know that if my Grandfather was alive, he would still be writing these letters and fighting the fight.
I don’t know what I believe about life after death. But I do know that my Grandfather taught me some of my core values, about living my life with gusto and integrity, and taking risks. I am striving to teach these values to my children, and in doing so, his spirit is kept alive.