Memorial created 04-9-2006 by
Jerry "Grant" Lewis
December 19 1979 - January 17 2006
Grant and one of his best friends and Camp Heartland co-counselor, Jackie.
Jackie, Grant thought very highly of you and Gene and considered you to be one of the "Best". He always looked forward to your visits and calls.
Keep watching for those Pennies from Heaven!!!
Letter from Jackie dated Sunday, January 15, 2006
You know that you are one of my favoite people in the world. One look at your beautiful smile can make the world go round. I have always admired you for several reasons, and I want to thank you for making my life better. I love and appreciate you so much for teaching me to live life to the fullest in spite of whatever circumstances we are handed. You are a true example of what it means to shine.
When I was standing up there at your party, I was so nervous. On the way home, I was questioning why. I speak to groups of 20-80 people once a week at Mary Kay events. Hand me a microphone and I can work the crowd without any notice. But, that night I could not get out the right words, and I wondered why? Why was I shaking up there, so nervous? I am never nervous! And on the way home it hit me. All I wanted to do was run back to you and hug you and hold you. I wanted all those people in the room to just be gone and get out from between where you were and where I was standing so I could just tell you that I love you and that you are awesome.
Thank you for being a protective big brother to Ashton so I could meet you. (And for being hot for Sami) It's all because of these two babes that you kept coming around our cabin. I lucked out that summer and made a friend who changed how I look at life. Gene and I both love you and your entire family. We are grateful for what we have learned about love by watching your entire family. I promise to always be there for Ashton and Blake if they ever need a big sister. I never had a brother, but I love you like one. You are a part of our family.
God loves you more than we do, and I can only imagine what it will be like when you are surrounded by His glory. One of my favorite songs is about a guy who was asking his friend what he thought heaven would be like. He had all these questions for God, and was saying "when I get to heaven, I'm going to ask God why this happened" and his friend, the songwriter, replied, "Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel, will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of you be still, will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall, will I sing Hallelujiah, will I be able to speak at all, I can only imagine, I can only imagine."
My last thought is something I learned when I was pretty small, I went to church camp, it was probably 5th grade or so, and the counselors were trying to explain the concept of eternity, how it never ends. I couldn't figure it out. I kept saying, "for ever and ever and ever" over and over, and when I wanted to stop, I'd think, "I can't stop...eternity doesn't end!" The only way I could figure it out is to play like the time we have on this earth is about a day long compared to eternity.
So, we will see you tomorrow, baby. We are praying that God is holding you in the palm of His hand and that you feel his peace, grace and love. I am praying that the embrace I want to give you is already happening by the wings of angels, and that you feel safe, protected and loved.
Love you so much,
Grant and friends hanging out at "The Store", a restaurant hangout across from the school.
"And it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind:
never fading with the sunset when the rain set in.
And your footsteps will always fall right here in America's small town;
your candle burned out long before your legend ever will"
Candle in the Wind
Grant was a guest on the Jenny Jones, Phil Donahue, Maury Povich and Montel Williams shows. He was also the subject of an ESPN special about AIDS and sports and featured in a CBS "Before Your Eyes" movie documentary, "Angelie's Secret".
Grant and his best hemophilia friend Ryan's mother, Debbie.
Grant and high school classmate, Lindsey
Lindsey, your friendship and love meant so much to Grant. He adored you.
You were like a sister to Grant and you know that even though he teased you and tormented you growing up, he only did it because he loved you like a sister. Who else would he take to the 8th grade dance and be their walking partner at graduation????
Mindy is stationed in Germany with her husband, Dave and could not attend Grant's services. This is what she sent for his memorial service.
I know you had to leave my friend,
God has called you home,
I'm glad you're in a better place,
and with your memories I'll never feel alone.
Even though you have left,
a part of you remains.
You'll always live in my heart
That will never change.
At first there were regrets,
for things never said or done,
but I'm past that now,
My memories are happy ones.
I guess that's part of living,
but some things never change,
and I know the love and friendship
will always remain the same.
"Grant and I met in fourth grade. He was one of the best friends anyone could ask for. My mother was uneducated about AIDS at the time, as were many others, and was leary of Grant and I remaining friends. Thanks to his wonderful mother and father who took the time to help my family and I become educated and allowed us to help educate others. I am a better person today from knowing Grant and his family. Through knowing them I have become a more broad-minded and open-minded person and I will pass this down to my children. I would just like to thank Grant for all the memories that I will carry with me forever. Grant was and always will remain not only a dear friend, but a part of my family.
(Sorry I could not be there)
Lonnie, Grant (always daring to be different), Chris and Derek.
Grant posing with Neil, founder of Camp Heartland.
Thank you so very much for being a constant part of Grant's life for the last 13 years. Your friendship was one that he treasured deep in his heart. Your crazy sense of humor and love for others carried him through many rough times.
We love you Neil
Poem written by a family friend, Kevin, on the morning of Grant's death.
What is left? When all is said & done,
after you give your all and bury your
The memories, carried forever, tinged bittersweet,
with the languish suffered in Grant's
A lesson could be learned from each of us within,
if we open to forgiveness and embrace with our friends.
For our worth, just as our fault, create the overall
in mastering the balance time heavily comes to call.
Thus, the true tragedy that brings us here today
is the realization of great things to rest we lay.
The kindness I knew, merely exemplary of Grant's heart,
bigger than Texas County, and that's just a start.
Yeah, he had a temper, sometimes balls bigger than his head
and I remember some stupid stunts I'll never know why he did.
But those of us here were drawn to overcome
his occassional quirks because of the value of the sum.
We have seen the fire that would have paved the way
shared in the desires that drove him night and day,
borrowed from the goodness he shared with those he loved,
experienced his resistance when push came to shove.
All Grant feared to leave will one day be regained
in a blissful reunion, bereft of trauma or pain.
Contemplating where he's been,
Compared to where he's at,
I picture Grant pushing all God's buttons,
big blue eyes, grinning like a cheshire cat.
Grant and Andre, one of his close friends from Kansas City. They met at hemophilia camp in 1992 and quickly became buds. Andre spent a lot of time visiting "in the country" with Grant and our family. Andre stood vigil with Grant in November and December, being his hands and eyes.
I have heard several people mention what a special town Licking is, how it's so neat that everyone has rallied around Grant and supported him. I don't believe that it's the town that has created this bond. No-that effect is indicative of Grant. Grant could have lived in a big city and gathered this same type of support. I do have to admit that the small town environment has caused him to be the talk of the town on more than one occassion (like when he was stirring up trouble!)
His personality is what made everyone love him and want to support the cause. This is basically what each story about him starts and begins with: GRANT JUST BEING GRANT. We will all continue to love and will miss him very much. I can't help but laugh at many of the memories that I have with Grant as I am sure that's the case with just about everyone that knew him. A smile will always come to my face when I think about how we set stink bombs off at school and how I used to beat him up with a trapper-keeper on the bus (man Linda, you used to get really mad at me for that).
I have one last thought I'd like to share....may his imprint always be with those who knew and loved him and his story remain in the memory of those who were not fortunate enough to meet him. Grant will live on in our hearts as long as we keep his memory alive.
Thanks for all the good times Grant!
I felt a strong connection to Grant. We spent hours talking over the years and he had a beautiful spirit that was strong and compassionate.
Grant decided from the beginning of his diagnosis that he would not be stuck with that "ball and chain of medicine" as he used to say. He hated drugs and did not want to take any.
His passing is an extreme loss to me and the community and I will never forget his wonderful smile and playfulness. God was just ready for another "Hemophiliac Angel".
I'm at a loss for words...but I'll just write what I'm thinking in no particular order....
What I can say is that meeting Grant not only was a blessing, but he affected my life in more ways than one. He taught me it was okay to laugh, even though he had AIDS. He taught me that pranks at camp can get you kicked out even though I thought he'd never get sent home (mind you, I'm laughing out loud writing this remembering the fire extinguisher escapade in his cabin in Milwaukee!!)....I loved how he was so sincere, yet a tad bit of a rebel, and just so loving at the same time. You just can't beat all those personalities wrapped up in one!
He taught me how to shoot a sawed-off shot gun into the woods at your house....couldn't believe I was doing that either. I remember him at my house in Deerfield (this was when I was a freshman or sophomore in college)....and I couldn't find him to leave to go to a presentation to raise money for camp, and when I found him he was in my room laughing hy
sterically and throwing my big fat undies up in the air so they'd float slowly down all over the floor. Now I laugh hysterically also, remembering that, but at the time, I was completely modest and embarrassed as all get out!! Can't you just see him enjoying all these moments!
I remember his high school graduation party like it was yesterday. I was the only crazy person from "the city" to bring my dog to a pre-graduation party somewhere in the woods, and he made me feel at home. He really did. He made sure no one teased me about my dog. BUT, he didn't prevent people from hitting on me. He found that to be pretty funny.
I remember smoking my first cigar with him. We were in hotel room at the Drake Hotel in New York City and he told me to loosen up and that I should enjoy life. Now, how could I say no? I still have pictures of us smoking out of the windows on the 8th or 9th florr of the Drake. Nice memory, huh?
I also remember having in depth conversations with him about the fact that my extended family disowned me for working at Camp Heartland (you know, because I must have AIDS, I must be gay or I will get AIDS....that was their logic). Here he was, dealing with all these horrible stigmas that certain ignorant folks place on individuals with HIV/AIDS...and he took the time to listen to my small little stories...and he even had good advice for me....which I swallowed up like a kid in a candy store.
You know, we shouldn't have favorites in life...but I can honestly tell you that Grant was/is one of mine. I know we didn't see or talk to each other as often as we should have, but he certainly was an instrumental person in shaping my life and my attitudes. He made me smile, he made me cry, and more importantly, he made me love and learn how to forgive.
Grant was an exceptional person....I will miss him dearly.
All my love,
Lindsay (former Camp Heartland counselor from Illinois, now residing in Colorado)
Grant's BEST FRIEND, his Beamer!!!
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