On Wednesday, June 20, my grandfather passed away. He was 95. This is in memory of him and the remarkable life he led.
There are men who long for wealth and power, men who desire to be memorialized after their days are done with monuments of brass or stone. And then there are men who long to leave a quiet, but eternal legacy forged by service, family, and faith. I’m proud to say that my grandfather was the latter.
Stretching to a height of just a few inches taller than 5 feet, what Grandpa lacked in stature, he made up for in humor and heart. Known as Red for his shock of auburn hair, Grandpa had a spirit to match his fiery head. He lived his life with a contagious joy and a heart of thankfulness, and he passed this spirit onto every single one of us. Even in old age, Grandpa had eyes that twinkled when he laughed. I loved those eyes, and the smile they would elicit from everyone who was invited to share in his joy.
A veteran of WWII, Grandpa was one of the last remaining survivors of the Greatest Generation. He saw both profound horrors and incredible miracles during his lifetime. He couldn’t talk about the war without weeping, yet the experience didn’t harden him. I remember sitting in a restaurant with him and Grandma when the topic of the war arose. He said a few words and then quieted through tears, the memories clearly still rife with emotion.
Grandpa understood the eternal value in a life of humility and grace. He didn’t seek accolades, though they were well-deserved. Instead he ordered his priorities with Christ first, Grandma second, his family third.
My memories of Grandpa reflect this. Whether it was time spent at the beach or picking grapefruit from his backyard trees, he loved us well, and he was always up for an adventure, even well into old age. Every trip to Florida was packed with action, whether it was a trip to DisneyWorld, Weeki Wachee Springs, or a golf outing while the girls shopped … Grandpa enjoyed being active with his family.
He also loved his sweets, despite being a diabetic, and we all love to tell the story of the DisneyWorld fudge. He bought that fudge and lovingly carried it throughout the entire park, saying we could savor a piece when we finally returned to the car, only to end up dropping it in the parking lot in the pouring rain.
Grandpa’s relationship with Grandma bore a sacred weight, and I’m forever thankful for the legacy of their marriage. They adored one another with an everlasting love, and I know now that they are both fully restored and reunited in the presence of Christ.
More than anything though and most importantly, the heritage Grandpa leaves behind is one of a lifetime of faith. He showed me what it meant not only to believe in the cross of Christ for grace and salvation, but also to live it out through the generations. My fondest memories of Grandpa, those that will endure through the yet-to-be-written pages of time, are the moments we would gather after breakfast for prayer and Bible reading. He would open his King James and read aloud, while we sat around the table. Then he would fold his hands and bow his head and pray for us with humility and fervency. As I grew older, his faithfulness continued. And every time I would talk with him, he would tell me he was praying for me.
We will not know, this side of heaven, everything that Grandpa’s prayers produced, but the Word tells us that the effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much. And I have no doubt that Grandpa is now receiving the just reward for his life of faith. God granted him 95 years on this earth, and although the pain of his passing is searing indeed, we rejoice in the truth that he is now restored to full life in the presence of Christ.
Grandpa … you ran the race set before you, you fought the good fight, you faithfully endured till the end. So as you meet your Savior, and we bid our good bye, only one thing remains to be said: well done, good and faithful servant. Thank you for the legacy of your life and the example of your faith. We love you.
P.S. When you sit down at the banquet table, enjoy a big piece of fudge! I’m pretty sure it’s better than the Disney World parking-lot variety.
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