…a man of God.
…a man who epitomized faithfulness.
…a man I respected, adored, and will always cherish.
…a man I call Papa.
As I sit here, staring out the window of my 9th floor, corner apartment, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I can’t help but feel an overwhelming rush of emotion go sweeping through my body as I reflect on who this man was and on the character of his hard work, honesty, integrity, and faithfulness. Because without the life & decisions of my grandpa, my life would look quite different.
So, if you will, remember with me…
My papa was a man of few words, much like my dad. But, the life he led epitomized words like integrity, diligence, sacrifice, and faith. He wasn’t the first one you noticed when you walked in a room, but when he walked in a room, he was the type that commanded respect. Not because he was domineering or proud, but because just by looking at him and how he carried himself, you simply knew what kind of man he was.
And that kind of man deserves respect.
He was what we might call a traditional kind-of-guy: his handshake was his word, he wore a suit to church, and he treated my nana as if she was the most precious jewel that was ever given to him. He was a hard-worker. A man who picked up and left the family farm when he saw it wasn’t fruitful, moving his a baby and young wife hundreds of miles from home so that he could make a living for them. He worked hard to instill in my dad a desire for education & opportunity with a mindset that you could go anywhere and do anything.
He was of the greatest generation, living through the depression, faithfully serving our country as a paratrooper, and creating a life and legacy to be admired and followed by his children and generations to come. I firmly believe in the generational blessings that Psalms and Proverbs talk about, and I believe that I am a beneficiary of the Lord’s blessings because of the righteousness of my grandfather (& father).
Love how the KJV describes it in Proverbs 20.
The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7
I think that my favorite thing about my grandpa is the story of his faith. You see, my Papa didn’t begin a personal relationship with Jesus until he was almost 35 years old. He was always a good man, but he didn’t come to the saving knowledge of Christ until my dad was 6 or 7 years old.
He told me a couple of stories about it… My nana always had my dad and aunt in church, but Papa didn’t go. He said one Sunday, my dad asked Nana why he didn’t go to church with them, and Nana told him to ask Papa! Papa said that was pretty convicting for him and one of the reasons he started going to church. He also said that the only way to play softball in the church league was to be a member of the church!! So, he joined. HA!
However, I loved hearing him talk about how one Sunday, the teacher was asking how many of them knew where they were going when they died. Papa said that at that moment, he remembered not having a clue. So, he accepted Jesus and never turned back.
When I remember my papa, I remember his words of wisdom and affirmation. I remember him saying, “It’s not what you say, kid, it’s how you live your life!” He was not inferring that words hold no importance because the irony is that his words have made a profound impact on how I live. His words meant that because we live in a world of complexities and broken promises, my actions will make a greater impact on the world around me than my words ever could. His life bore testimony to this philosophy, and as I see it manifest itself through my dad, I hope and pray I became a woman of this same character.
I used to love just sitting and listening to him.
Memories of watching him feed the cows… being graced by his patience as he taught me to drive a standard… watching him cut and bale the hay or fix fence…watching him watch me & my cousins as we cut-up, laughed, and played on their place in Southwest Missouri… listening to him give the Children’s Sermon on Sunday mornings… watching him carry the title of “Sunday School Director” for many years… and watching him truly exemplify what it mean to love people and love & serve the Church.
He used to say the secret to marriage was found in 2-words, “Yes, dear.” I can still hear my nana and her sweet giggle when he’d say things like that, “Oh *giggle, giggle*, D!”
I can still hear his boots clicking on the linoleum as he would make his way through the kitchen around to the living room while waiting on us to go town or church. I remember how he would tap his fingers and rub his hands across the arms of his big recliner while thinking when we would have one of our “deeper” conversations. I smile at the thought of riding with him to check the cows or driving to the feed store for feed.
I learned, and continue to learn, so much from my papa. So much about life. So much about money & frugality. Much about marriage and love. And so much about character and faith. Though he’s gone physically, his legacy still lives on through me, my sisters, and my cousins. We have had such a beautiful illustration of how we should live our lives and for that, I will be eternally grateful.
He didn’t tell us how to live though, he lived and let us watch him do it.
I can’t wait to run through Heaven’s gates one day and find him. I’m sure if I can find God’s thousand hills, there he’ll be. I feel confident that by this point, God is breeding Brangus…