I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandfather lately – my mom’s dad. I won’t go into all the reasons why he’s on my mind, but I think I may be grieving his death. Seems a little strange, since he died over 40 years ago, when I was 12. Even so, I find myself thinking about him, and wishing he was still in my life.
There have been milestones when I really missed him. Like when I presented at the High School State Optimist Club Speech Competition – I took second place. And when I got married – I think he really would have loved my husband. And when my daughter, and later my son, were born – I wish he could have met them.
He was a big man, with a booming voice and even bigger laugh. He adored my grandmother – we called her DeeDee. One time, when I got to visit my grandparents for the week, I watched him twirl her around the floor at their Arthur Murray Ballroom Dance class. They looked so magical and light on their feet; he held her regally.
He was gentle – I remember him petting his adorable new German Shepherd puppy, Noble; later, I recall the firmness with which he trained that dog – firm yet kind. And when I cried all the way home from a visit to their house, he talked to me on the phone and calmed my tears.
He was wise. Every opportunity was a teachable moment, from raking leaves at the lake to eating in the cafeteria. One lunchtime, he let me choose where to sit, and I picked the front of the restaurant instead of the back tables where we usually ate. So mealtime became a lesson in dining room table etiquette – we needed to be on our best behavior if we were going to sit where people could watch us! On another occasion, I remember leaning on a cabinet display when I went with him to the store, and he pulled me back a bit to show me the fingerprint mess I had made on the glass. I think if he’d had Windex with him, I’d have been cleaning off the smudges!
He was a preacher before I knew him. (By the time I recall him working, he had left the pulpit and was a big-wig at a major employer in his hometown.) He loved the Lord, as did my grandmother. Together, they left a beautiful legacy of faith in Christ through their daughters and us grandchildren and the generations following.
He loved to read, and his floor-to-ceiling bookshelf was packed with all kinds of literature. I remember when he took an interest in bonsai trees; I got one from my son for my birthday last year, and I think of Papa pruning his tree every time I water mine. I seem to think his was greener and bigger than mine is.
For that matter, I recall him as “larger than life.” It may be that it’s just from the perspective of a young grandchild, but I remember him as big and generous and kind and loving and firm and gentle, all at the same time.
I know I’ll see him again someday, in heaven. Until then, I’ll remember these moments and many other special times. I’ll try to be the grown woman he would have been proud of. And I’ll sit anywhere in the restaurant, because he taught me which fork to use first!