I'm sorry for the recent lapse in Internet activity from me. I have a good reason though. On March 2nd, my Grandad went to meet his Savior.
I have drafted two other blog posts telling y'all this, and describing how I feel about it. However, when I went to publish them, the choppy Internet in the country refused to cooperate. After thinking about it, I took that as God's way of telling me that those blog posts weren't right for this occasion.
Instead of selfishly sharing how I feel about this (He was the best Grandad in the world, He loved Jesus, and we were very close. You can imagine how I feel), I decided to share the lessons he has taught me through learning about his life and the people he has touched.
Grandad was born on a dairy farm in Georgia in 1926. He had an older brother and several sisters. When he was sixteen, he had to drop out of high school because his father became ill and his older brother was fighting in WWII.
He had to step up and completely run the farm-everything from milking the cows to delivering the milk. Grandad took over as man of the house while his father was in the hospital and his brother in a war. This has taught me several lessons. The main lesson I learned is that a young age is never an appropriate excuse. I'm ashamed to think of the time I have used, "But mommmm, I'm only sixteen!" or "I'm a teenager, what do you expect?" to try to get out of something petty. Of course, I know the Christian youth program Bible slogan of 1 Timothy 4:12. It's often taken as teenager-y angst: "Yeah! Don't look down on us! We're special!" (Though Paul did not mean it that way at all) But I now realize that to convince people not to look down on me, I have to step up and act like an adult because I, along with every other teenager in this universe, am perfectly capable of doing that.
In his early twenties, Grandad married the lady who would eventually become Granny. They had a very happy marriage that lasted over fifty years. They had four sons. Sadly, Granny died from breast cancer in 1999.
After a few years, Grandad married Mimi, known as Miss Liz to my dad, uncles, and older cousins who had the privilege of knowing Granny. Mimi's first husband, Louis, had died from Alzheimers years before. They were married for nearly twelve years until Grandad passed away.
Sometimes, I find myself looking at all the divorce statistics and "happy marriage" statistics, that are always depressingly low. I shake my head and vow to never get married because the odds of it actually lasting are not in my, or anybody else's, favor. And yet, I look at Grandad and Mimi and between the two of them they had THREE happy and long-lasting marriages. I thought about it to try and figure out what they did to make it work and my discoveries were surprisingly simple. All four (Grandad, Granny, Mimi, and Louis) were strong Christians who strove/strive to put Jesus first and follow the Scriptures. They were selfless and genuinely cared for their spouses. Suddenly, the odds don't seem so bad after all.
Grandad was raised during and right after the Great Depression. He knew the value of a dollar, and I think that stayed with him his entire life. He wisely lived beneath his paycheck. He was very creative and could finds ways to fix anything as efficiently and cheaply as possible. He knew how to make do with what he had, and he never failed to credit God for everything: from the food he was eating to the couch he was sitting on to the sun rising above the pines in his backyard. He lived very simply and he genuinely loved his life.
Being a writer, I'm often drawn to the grand, adventurous, heroic, dangerous stories. I often forget "the little things, the good deeds of everyday folk that keep the darkness at bay." Grandad taught me that adventure is relative. I often think that adventure is traveling to exotic new locales or saving villages from destruction or vanquishing a great evil. And then I get frustrated because nothing exciting ever happens to me. But that's a lie. Grandad found excitement and wonder in everything, so his entire life became an adventure. He found adventure in going to a Chinese buffet, or taking a walk through his farm, or going out to his garden. He loved his life, and he probably would chuckle from his comfortable, old chair at culture's definition for 'adventure' and 'success'.
That's not to say he didn't travel. When he was younger, he and Granny went on many mission trips. They smuggled Bibles into China, they built homes and schools in Africa, and ministered in Honduras. Though they were not called to be full-time missionaries, they had a heart and passion for furthering God's kingdom and helping people in need. Grandad and Granny, and later Grandad and Mimi, prayerfully and monetarily supported over twenty overseas missionaries. Grandad used his own resources to help those spreading God's word instead of making himself more "comfortable" by culture's standards.
Grandad was perfectly content without a smart phone, computer, Internet, or even a DVD player. He never judged anyone else for having these things, in fact, he'd curiously inquire about them and he liked to listen to my dad and brother talk about cool gadgets and the like. However, he just never felt like he personally had a need for those things. He'd watch the news and Jeopardy on his TV, and I'm pretty sure my uncle talked him into a cell phone for safety reasons. But other than that, he was content without many electronics. Contentment is something I struggle with. I could learn a lot from Grandad.
If Grandad had a fault, it was that he sometimes wouldn't follow instructions out of stubbornness. He'd make me a frozen pizza, and sometimes it would be perfect, other times it would be undercooked, and other times it looked like Smaug got hold of it. I guess Grandad just thought he knew better than the silly old pizza box on how to make pizza. He was very self-reliant, which is typically a good thing. Just not when it comes to frozen pizzas. XD
However, I also learned from him that self-reliance shouldn't turn into selfish pride. For decades, Grandad heated the downstairs of his house by hauling in wood and making a fire in an old-fashioned fireplace. Unfortunately, his back started aching and the arthritis in his hands hurt worse than usual, so he couldn't bring in wood anymore. If Grandad had been alone, I'm sure he would have simply put on an extra sweater and coat and not mentioned the wood problem to anyone. But because of Mimi, he had a nice, electronic heater installed with a remote control. He put her needs above his need to prove that he could do the firewood on his own. I love that.
Grandad was never afraid of growing old. In fact, I think he enjoyed it. He would casually mention his "old bones" or his "old muscles", and then chuckle as everybody jumped up to get him whatever he wanted, as if he were in on some hilarious joke the rest of us didn't know. Mimi would lovingly roll her eyes at him, but she would laugh too. I guess she knew what the joke was.
After the funeral, a cousin of my dad's came and talked to me and my sister. His name is Steve, and he told us this story: "I was at a Saturday dinner over at Nancy's house. I was wearing plaid shorts with a yellow polo. Your Grandad and Miss Liz arrived, and he was wearing plaid shorts with a yellow polo. He walked over to me and nudged me with his elbow. 'Hey,' he said, 'You know you and I are dressed alike.' 'Yes sir, I do know,' I replied. 'Well,' your Grandad went on to say, 'You know you're dressed like an eighty year old man, right?' I laughed and said, 'Yes sir, I do'."
Kara and I laughed because this was just so Grandad. And I knew about the plaid shorts and yellow polo Steve had been talking about. That might have been Grandad's favorite clothes since he wore it so much. Honestly, he might have just said that because he was a bit of a diva and didn't want someone else wearing 'his' outfit.
Steve went on to say, "I know it hurts a lot right now, but you'll always flashback to the time spent with your Grandaddy, and it'll hurt less and less. Twenty-five years from now, you'll be telling some story about Grandad and laughing. That's just how it is."
"Thank you," I replied quietly. What else could I say without making the tears come back?
Grandad was an all-around great guy, but the greatest thing about him was his fervent faith in Christ. There's a lot more I could tell about Grandad, and maybe I will twenty-five years from now when it hurts less. However, at the moment, all I want to say is that I so blessed to have known Grandad and I am absolutely honored and proud to be his granddaughter. I didn't get a chance to tell him that on earth, so I am looking forward to the day I can tell him that to his face when I see him again in heaven.