As Long as Life Allows
This post has been ruminating in my head for a little over six months. On June 10, just after 10 PM, my last grandparent died. I know how blessed I have been to know four grandparents and how much more to be an adult before any of them died. Beyond that, my children were able to meet three of them, and know two of them very well. The loss of my last grandparent has had a great impact on me. I miss Granddaddy more than I thought possible. I did all I could to see him often and call him regularly in the eleven months between losing Grandmama and the week he died. I enjoyed talking to him, listening to his stories, and watching his face. His joy and zest for life radiated through him! He had “smile crinkles” and a twinkle in his eye, especially when he was making up an answer or teasing. Every picture (or at least all of my favorite ones) shows off his joy, humor, and love.
For God, Family, and Country
I wrote before that my grandfather was a diligent student, especially of the Bible. My grandfather loved the Word of God. The Scripture was his guidebook for life. He started every day with an open Bible and prayer. He took time to talk to anyone and answer questions. He had a way of gently teaching the truth that conveyed God’s love without condoning wrongdoing.
He loved and provided for his family. He worked hard and paid for all four of his children to attend college without debt. (He only paid for their first degree). Even when he traveled for work, his priority was to be home every night with his family. He never missed a worship service if he could help it. Even when my grandparents vacationed around the world, they would find a local congregation. I found a huge collection of church bulletins and tracts from different places they visited.
My grandfather was a patriot, loyal to the American constitution. When Peter was on active duty, Grandmama made yellow ribbons, which Granddaddy faithfully put up through every deployment. He wore an American flag on his lapel, but not just as an ornament. He was a patriot who prayed for the leaders of the country (even when he didn’t like them or their values). These yellow ribbons meant so much to me during the many months that Peter was away, but not near as much as the comfort provided by my family.
Work and Play
Granddaddy retired when he turned 80. One of the last big trips my grandparents were able to take was visiting us in Germany. I treasure so much about that visit, even though we didn’t do a lot of site-seeing, because I was able to share my life – the ordinary everyday moments – with these amazing people. Along with the many Bibles, commentaries, and religious books in his collection, he also had several of Dale Carnegie’s courses. He would listen to courses (on tape) during his traveling salesman days. He completed nearly all of Sunset‘s Bible Courses and constantly strived to do better in all areas of his life.
His first and most important job was in service of the church. There is no retirement for a Christian. He worked for the Lord every day of his life. Some days looked different than others. My grandparents held Bible studies, hosted small groups, and visited the sick and shut-ins. When my grandmother’s health declined, my grandfather’s service shifted to care for the love of his life. He worked for the Lord in everything he did.
Love without Limits
My grandparents married in 1949. When she died, they’d been married seventy-two and half years. There were challenges in those times, but they stuck together, as long as life allowed. Just as Elisha walked with Elijah until God took him, my grandfather walked with my grandmother. Losing his life-long companion was devastating. They’d scarcely been a day without one another since they were 16 years old. They took care of each other, supported each other, and really did life together! Their example means so much to me, especially now, though I miss them terribly.
As Christians, our love does not end in death. We have hope beyond this life. The day before he died, he repeated this part of Revelation 19:1, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!” He knew God and was ready to go. He walked with God in this life and into the next, never alone, though certainly lonely in the last year of his life. He was the last of his siblings and many of his oldest friends.
His favorite psalm was Psalm 133. He had these three verses committed to memory. He strived and prayed for unity in his family, church, and the world. He encouraged others to do the same.