March of 1920. That's when my Granddaddy entered the world. He had no idea what God had in store for him. He got older and worked hard. It was the Depression, and he had to quit school just to help provide for his family. He met a girl and fell in love. He served as a quarter master in World War II. He had four children. He wanted all of his children to go to college...something he was unable to do. And all four of them did. And then he watched his children get married and have babies of their own. 10 grandchildren. He got to see all 10 of them go to college as well. And then he got to see his grandchildren having babies. 14 great grandchildren. And who knows how many more to come.
When I think about Granddaddy, I think about a lot of things. I think about the camping trips he took me on from the time I was a toddler. I think about him pulling me behind the riding lawn mower in the wagon. I think about air popped pop corn, the candy box, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, nutty buddies, afternoon naps in the sun room, Bing Crosby, and staying up late to watch the Johnny Carson show. I think about New Years Eve when my parents dropped us off and we celebrated with Granddaddy and Grandmother by banging on pots and pans in the living room. I think about him giving me money to put in the offering when I went to church with him. I think about all the Christmases, all the birthdays, all the meals, all the school programs he attended. When I think about my childhood, I think about my Granddaddy.
He wasn't famous. He wasn't perfect. But he was a great man. A man who loved Jesus. I can't help but wonder in "It's A Wonderful Life" fashion how different my life would have been without Granddaddy. If he hadn't taught my Daddy about Jesus, then I wonder if my Dad would have taught me about Jesus, and I wonder if I would then be teaching my two children about Jesus?
On the day he died, I told him I loved him. He tried to talk back. But my dad assured him that we knew he loved us and he didn't need to have the words at that moment. See, that's the thing about people you really love. Of course you want to tell them you love them, but words aren't always necessary. He's loved me for 28 years. Told me many times that he's loved me in words and actions. I didn't need that affirmation on his death bed. I tried to memorize his face as he laid in the hospital bed, and I held his hand. Over the last 90 years, I wonder how many hands he shook, how many hugs he gave, how many flat tires he changed, and how many babies he held with those two hands. I kissed his cheek and told him I loved him again. And then I left near death at the hospital to go hold new life as I cradled my two month old daughter in my arms.
Just before eleven I got the call. My husband told me the news. My dad was praying and my cousin was singing "Precious Lord" during his final minutes. I cried and then sat on the couch just thinking about my Granddaddy. As it got closer to midnight, it started to snow. With all the lights off in the house, my daughter in my arms, and my husband by my side, we stared out the picture window as the snow blanketed the ground. I couldn't help but think, "Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow." And I knew Granddaddy was in heaven not because he was a hard worker and had a beautiful, successful family but because his sins had been made as white as snow. I was thankful for the snow...thankful for the reminder that sweet Granddaddy had gone home to a place where "sickness, sorrow, pain and death are felt and feared no more."