I am a writer more than I am a talker. I have always loved language and usually find self-expression easier with the written word than with the spoken word. However, I am a bit overwhelmed with the impossibility of this task. How do I give voice to the memories and express my deep appreciation for the legacy of faith my grandfather left me? Words seem inadequate somehow. But I will try…
Growing up overseas meant that time with my grandparents was limited. However, when I started making a list, I was surprised at how many memories of Grandaddy came to mind.
I remember his nicknames. He had nicknames for everyone! “Snicklefritz” was probably my all-time favorite. When my sister came along, she became “Fritz-a-snickle.” He also called her “Band-aid Girl” because there was a time in Julie’s younger years when she was always covered in Band-aids (to keep her from scratching her mosquito bites until they bled). In later years, he called me “Giggles” because I tend to laugh at almost everything!
I remember his jokes and teasing, his blue eyes sparkling and alive with mischief. He loved humor and making people laugh. He was also one easily overcome by emotion. He would get choked up over saying goodbye, or on special occasions, like when I asked him to give the welcoming words at my wedding.
I remember fishing with Grandaddy. He has always been an avid fisherman. Every furlough when we went to visit, he would take us kids out for the day on his boat. We would eat lunch, catch fish and get sunburned and seasick. Then, we would come home and Grandmother would fry up the fish we caught that day for supper. Yum!
I remember the summer I spent with them between my sophomore and junior years in college. I got a job at the Kroger deli and saved up my money to spend in Europe that fall on the Vienna Studies program. Grandaddy drove me to work and picked me up each day (and teased me mercilessly about one of the baggers, who was always flirting with me). I remember dinner-time conversations and the enjoyment of having my grandparents “all to myself” for awhile.
I remember his basement. His pool table, where he taught me to shoot pool (I was never very good)… his wood shop, where he would sometimes let us tinker. The three-tiered shelf he made for me long ago hung on my bedroom wall throughout my growing up years. I still have it, in storage at my parents’ house, and someday, I plan for it to hang on the wall in my home again.
I remember the Christmas several years ago, when Grandaddy got out the bugle he played during his time as a Bugle Boy in WWII and played it for us. It was the first time I (or any of us) had ever heard him talk about his experiences in the war so long ago.
I remember his preaching. He was a preacher for more than 60 years, and he was still preaching, right up until the time he was admitted to the hospital. He was 83 years old when he died, and I don’t know that he ever had plans to retire! His lessons were always clear, well-organized and thought out, and grounded in Scripture.
His legacy of faith is probably the one thing I am most appreciative of when I think of what he has meant to me over the years. It was passed on to my mom, who married a missionary/preacher, and through my parents to me, married to a ministry student and hopeful missionary. His example of life-long Kingdom service inspires and humbles me.
The idea of legacy has been on my mind since I first received word of his passing. There is a song by Nichole Nordeman called “Legacy” that expresses my thoughts perhaps better than my own scribblings can:
I read these words or hear them sung and think that they could have been written specifically for my grandfather. I truly believe that when he went Home, he was indeed welcomed with the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
Read more tributes to Dean here and here.
Listen to "Legacy"