Harland Nickerson

On Tuesday, May 15th, one of the most amazing men you’ll ever know – my grandfather, Harland Nickerson – passed away at the age of 81. Those of us close to him knew him as Dar, a name us grandchildren gave him. If I could only use one word to describe Dar, it would be integrity. I have never known anyone to carry so much respect in a community, and yet at the same time remain so humble, so down-to-earth. Dar had strong principles, both in his personal life and in his work. He showed everyone that the good guy can finish first. Over the past few days I’ve heard comments like, “Harland never had a single enemy,” and “Everyone loved him.” I think he loved everyone, too. He loved life and lived every day to the fullest. Even in his last days he was trying to help my mom and I with the horses.

If I had a second word to describe Dar, it would be caregiver. At a very young age, following the loss of his own father, Dar took over as head of household to care for his large family, including several young sisters. He did this not because it was the easy thing to do, but because it was the right thing to do. Dar taught me that being there for the people you love, is the only real task we are given in this short life. He always ensured the people around him had what they needed, whether it was a home for his family or even the shirt off his back for a complete stranger. The only reason I am here today is because 25 years ago, Dar made a promise to my mom. He promised her that if she wanted this baby, he’d be here for her no matter what. So many of us owe Dar so much, and yet I have a feeling he wouldn’t ask any of us for repayment. In the Bible, Corinthians talks about having nothing and yet possessing everything. Dar was never wealthy, but he was always rich with love and people who cared about him, respected him.

I don’t know where people like Dar come from, but I’m pretty sure I know where they go. I’m sure Dar is with my grandmother Kay, who he adored so much. He’s probably wondering why we’re all so sad and wish we’d be happy. For Dar, Heaven was already here – for him, it was the stuff we take for granted every day. Heaven was being with family, pumping gas for his customers at the Exxon station, teasing my grandmother in the kitchen, working with the horses. Dar always brought a little light to every day, no matter how hard things seemed. I think he’d want us to know that – to know that we already have Heaven right here, all of us together, all the little things that make life worthwhile. Dar wanted to live a life in honor and in love, and by God he did.

Harland Nickerson and Adam Flanders

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