My granddaddy recently died. It didn’t take us by surprise. He was 92 and had a fantastically full life. And we were able to go say our last goodbyes weeks before. The last few years he was very quiet, which was not who he was. So it seemed that we had lost him long before he left this earth.
I had the opportunity to speak at the funeral – of course my brother and I both had mixed feelings about this. What do you say about a man who lived and loved so much? The answer is, exactly that.
Life Lessons Learned
I started thinking about who and what he was to his nine grandchildren. Essentially thinking about the life lessons I had learned from him. Writing down what spoke to us, who and what he did with us. The first part was just a wink and nod between us and him. I don’t really care that most of the audience didn’t get the meaning behind that list. And it was nice to hear from my cousin that she didn’t think it could be done, but I pretty much spoke for us all.
The Smell of Icy HotFresh Cut Wood and Sawdust
A Long Nightshirt
The Bent Nail
Wondering Hikes and Exploring Drives
The Rufus while Sitting on the Swing
Stories on his Lap
Stories with Wunny Fords, I mean funny words
Countless Specialty made Wood Creations
Working in the Creek
Greeting Kisses and Goodbye Hugs
We had grandparents who loved, and even like us.
They took charge of us for weeks at a time, driving hundreds of miles across many states.
He worked with us to put up wallpaper and paint our rooms.
He taught us to demolish houses and cut wood.
He showed us how to listen and love.
As an adult I learn that we were the exception.
Our family loves endlessly, loves in spite of, and loves because of.
The legacy he built expects nothing in return – just as he tirelessly served others.
We love, and even like each other, despite distance and time apart.
He spoke truth in love and patience.
He fiercely loved his wife.
Their marriage displayed what a true partnership is.
And what marriage could be when God was made head.
They were best friends.
They got up to no good.
They did good and share the good news with others.
How blessed we are to have him as an example to strive to emulate.
And how fortunate we are to have called him Granddaddy.
He will be on expressively missed, but we rejoice with him in his victory of going home.
We all know that no family, no marriage, no one is perfect. But hopefully we all get better with time.
From my view, he wasn’t a particularly prideful man – something I have always struggled with. In fact the first time he asked my grandmother on a date she said yes . . . if he would throw away the hat he was wearing. He did so without hesitation.
We used to joke with them on road trips that they were arguing – their response back was that they were “discussing”. They did have difference of opinion and they did speak up. But looking back, I realize they never sniped or outwardly pushed each other’s buttons. There weren’t snide comments.
As a mother I can identify with this. But his went beyond. He served not only his family, but others. He was a farmer, carpenter, student, auto mechanic, paperboy, milkman, weed control supervisor, chemistry and biology teacher, elder and more.
I don’t think he even kept track of how many houses and cabins he helped build. His “retirement” years were spent serving and laboring at the camp were he build our family’s cabin, doing the same in the town they moved to be closer to family and driving all around the country to visit their children and grandchildren.
You’d get an idea of something you wanted to make and he would put it into action. Like me pointing out as a tween that the empty space in the top of the garage would be a perfect play area for you and your cousins – and that space is now the hideout for your own children.
He was ever willing to serve. I am sure my mother – as I did – had plans for projects whenever he visited.
I talk about “that we were the exception”. As a young adult I first experienced friends who talked about their grandparents who didn’t like them. Or treated their siblings unequally. One in particular began to intensely dislike her grandmother because of how she was treated.
I was shocked. I couldn’t imagine family, much less grandparents treating their grandchildren like that. Of course now 35 years in this world I have seen much more evils. But what a blessed example we have to pass on to our children and grandchildren.
To see and love the good. To love and have compassion beyond our shortcomings and bad decisions. Even as a child when I was in trouble, I never felt unloved – even when I had to go pick my own switch.
One of the stories we heard from them growing up was about them getting married. They were married in my Grandmother’s home. All my grandfather’s possessions fit in a brown paper grocery bag.
At some point in the 40s the only thing they had in their kitchen cupboards was a can of oysters – I assume this was left because neither of them like oysters. And they still don’t…
Living with what you needed created ingenuity. Though in later years they had a beautiful home, they also made do with what they had. Fixed what they had – even when they had they money for new.
A few years ago my family moved into his home – as he had moved to an senior independent living facility – I saw his little touches all over the house. Things he had done to improve usage, things he had reused, custom built items for my grandmother. It was so neat to see his ingenuity in little everyday things – and it was quite inspiring.
He definitely left something big for us to live up to. Some days it feels impossible. Some days I just try to get through with the children still breathing.
They went through such harder times than we have, though I believe the times were simpler. The world smaller. Concerns smaller and more limited.
They didn’t concern themselves with the standards of Facebook, Pinterest and every other easily accessible comparison platform. The cable, internet and mobile phone bills were not the norm – nor were their kids having a room full of toys.
They spent time together. They invested in their children’s souls. They created memories.
In this time of financial struggle, in this time of emotional turmoil – it is easy to get stuck in survival mode. It is easy to let the day be consumed with what WE think needs to get done. Meanwhile the years are short.
We need to soak it up and invest while we can. No matter how small it may seem. We must choose times to be present each day.