july 7th, a saturday morning, began as a heavy one. i woke to heart ache as i learned immediately of the passing of one of the greatest men i knew, jake’s grandfather, john allen risner senior. as much as i wanted to immediately write a heart felt blog, i had a wedding to shoot that same evening, and i had to tuck all my feelings deep away so i could rock at my job like i would any other day. this past saturday we laid grandpa risner to rest, and after a weekend with jake’s side of the family i am stuffed full of feelings and lots and lots of love. i’d love to tell you about a man that has impacted my life, as well as many others. though my words can never do justice to really explain the wonderfulness of any loved one, i can’t help but try.
with 91 years tucked under his belt, you can imagine he lived quite a lot of life. and that he did. he was an active member of society, with “semper paratus” (meaning “always ready”) as a term he lived and breathed which was adopted from his time spent with the united states coast guard. grandpa risner proudly served our country during the second world war, and because of his time given to our country – his memorial service ended poetically with a 21 gun salute, and an amazing quote by one of the officers stating, “we wanted to let god know to get those gates open wide because we got a sailor coming home.” the quote heartily wrapped up the service in the most perfect way. i knew if he could hear, he’d be grinning ear to ear with the rest of us.
i always had these specific ideas of who grandpa risner was. i had gotten to know him myself, but the vision i had of who he was, was exactly true. after hearing several nearly identical testimonials, it was clear that this impression of grandpa risner was no facade, but a true representation of the guy that he was. besides being the generous, quick witted, loving, and charming man that i could easily see that he was, john allen risner senior was also an adoring, and doting husband. he loved his wife dorothy “like every woman wants to be loved” (-tiffany priska). he was a strong, influential, guiding father. he left his personality and legacy in his two amazing children, his 7 grandchildren, his 5 great grandchildren, and great great grandson. i surely can see traits from his personality in the relatives that i know personally, and i know they would all be touched to hear such a statement. so his legacy continues and i can’t wait to watch it bloom in my lifetime.
upon meeting him, i instantly loved him as though my own grandfather, and he always treated me as his own family. i quickly discovered how sharp, witty, silly, generous, and loving this man was. he always had a huge grin on his face, and just seemed like the happiest guy in the whole world. being around him just made you happy, you couldn’t help it. it was clear to me, and more than likely also to others touched by his life; in his mind he had it all. the perfect wife, and an amazing, loving, and strong family. all who knew him could easily see he genuinely loved life, and very much enjoyed getting to know others. one of my favorite memories of grandpa risner was sharing an impromptu breakfast prepared by grandma risner, and it’s one of those memories i can remember perfectly in my mind. a memory that seemingly fell out of a movie because it was so exquisitely lovely. grandma’s favorite china with toast and jam. it warmed my heart, much like the coffee warmed my insides. that morning was filled with stories from their lives together, their love story, and i’ll never forget my amazement of how many stories were about the generoisty of strangers after simply meeting this dynamic pair. truly, grandpa risner was just one of the most charming, lovable people, and the same could certainly be said about grandma risner as well. how could you not love this pair? i knew i did, and i’d only met them a handful of times.
as much as i am sad to share the reality with other loved ones that grandpa risner is no longer with us, i can’t help but smile knowing that he is no longer without the love of his life. i know there is without a doubt no place he’d rather be than with his one and only. with that said, i will miss them both for the rest of my life. but know that any time i think of grandpa risner, i won’t be able to do so without a smile on my face.
i always felt a special bond to grandpa risner. he was a pisces, with his birthday just a day before my own. i’ll always hold this special connection to him in my life, and am filled with pride that i was able to capture his true spirit in some of my photographs. he is one of the loveliest of men, and i feel so honored that he so quickly let me into his life, and shared his true self with me. i found out this weekend that he himself was quite the photographer, and so now i know why he gave me that mischievous glance so often while taking his picture. i know i felt loved by him, and i hope he knew he was loved by me. rest in peace grandpa risner. we miss you.