It is not often that one gets to rub shoulders with a great man. Most often you are not even aware of their presence on this earth though there are a few who are noteworthy enough to get mentioned in the paper or on television. Some leave a mark on your personal world through coincidence but occassionally, there are a few whose influence affects you to the core.
Being away from the computer and normal social circles, we came home from Thatcher to learn of the news of the passing of a great man. It was not unexpected - he had recently become extremely ill as his body fought off a cancerous invasion. But it was only two weeks prior that he had stood in Sacrament Meeting to bear his testimony and there hadn't appeared to be a significant change in his appearance nor his demeanor. He has always looked like an old cowboy and acted as ornery. Truthfully, I haven't known him that long. We moved into the ward shortly before Rachel was born so my association with him has been less than 4 years. However, he has been well-known and well-loved by my husband and his family for years.
You may be wondering why he ranks as one of the great men in my life - especially for having been a part of it for such a short time. He was who I needed him to be at a time when I struggled with church leadership. He made no excuses for his beliefs or his actions, though he was tactful enough not to offend intentionally. He never made me feel like I had to apologize for my feelings or frustrations. He accepted me for the outspoken, bone-headed, obstinate woman I am and found ways to help me turn my weaknesses into strengths.
As I hear and read about others feelings and tributes of this man, I have come to realize that he wasn't the same for everybody, but he was what everybody needed for themselves. There is no way to describe why exactly he was a great man. The truth is, you're either great or you're not. He was.