This month brings a flood of memories and a twinge of sadness for my family. You see, the glue that held us all together passed away on this day just a few years ago. He was Granddaddy Royal to some, Take Take to others and Grandfather to one. Today is a day that my heart just feels a little tug to remember.
With one pant leg tucked in his boot, he was always on the go. He was one of those guys who never met a stranger and had a hug for everyone. I guess you know when you meet a man and his farm is named ‘Heaven’, you may have found someone just a little extra special.
Often as a child, I remember him telling my grandmother, “Going to heaven,” which he pronounced more like hev’n. I would often get a giggle out of the whole idea of going to heaven and my grandmother would reply back to be careful or he might really end up there. Their relationship was a great one. He was color-blind so she picked out all his clothes, or so she tried. Every now and then, he would grab the wrong tie for church and the loudest discussion would ensue. She always won because he only had eyes for her. He was a major joker and she was a bit more serious. The perfect match! I always loved that no matter how much time had passed since her death, his eyes always watered when he spoke of her. They had a great love. And, he missed her until the day he died.
I remember as a child, how my grandfather demanded that all good little boys and girls take an afternoon nap or ‘roost’ for a while every Sunday. Thinking this wouldn’t be a bad idea for most of us. Sunday ~ a day of rest. On most Sundays, two hours wouldn’t quite be long enough for him. We would have to tip-toe outside quietly in order not to wake him and end up tacking on extra time for ourselves.
He loved to helicopter grandparent before it was really a term. He would have the biggest fit when we children would push the envelope by doing something a little outside the lines of safe. With ten grandchildren, seven of which were boys, you can only imagine how crazy we must have driven him. One particular time, I remember him yelling as my older cousin went riding the pony at mach speed straight under a low-hanging magnolia tree and was thrown off. The same cousin was often in trouble for being found in the very tip top of an old tree after an hour or so of everyone looking for him. Yes, if we were there, granddaddy wasn’t far behind the action. I think my worry-wart habits must come naturally.
He loved his garden and all the neighbors he could share with. His community friends and family brought him much happiness and there was no where on earth he would rather be than Grady. His church was a big part of who he was. With many friends coming and going over the years, he still took time to love and help. Yes, he was a hoot to some, but a friend to all. Everyone who knew him loved him and everyone he knew he loved. No strings attached.
He went out of his way to be with us. I am grateful for many Christmas mornings when very early he and my uncle would ring my doorbell, coming so he could ride to wherever our celebration might be that day. He always had a cup of coffee and loved hearing all about the things Santa had brought my tow-headed boys that year. He just loved family. He even told my sister before his sickness took its toll to work on planning a family reunion. He wanted to get together with everyone. Unfortunately, his sickness moved quickly and nothing could be planned, but in the end, it didn’t have to be. His family came to him. Every weekend my mother’s house was a revolving door. Cousins, neighbors, grandkids and friends drove hours to see him. One by one, they each showed him just how much they loved him by listening to his stories and sitting by his bedside. He was one loved fella.
One of the best parts of him, was the way he loved and cared for my cousin who has special needs. He would call him from wherever he might be just to check on him. He would take him for drives and to the park any day he asked. Spending time with my cousin was by far one of his favorite things to do. Yes, he loved us all, but my sweet cousin stole a special little part of his heart early on and kept it forever.
There were so many great parts of him that I can’t begin to share them, but the best part I loved was how he loved me and Jesus. He always had a hug and a big smile for me. He loved my husband and my boys as if they were his very own. He loved my husband’s family, too. He just loved in a big way. His life was long and well-lived, mainly because of His great love and great faith. He was the kind of man who didn’t have to tell you he loved Jesus, you just knew.
“With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalms 91:16
Yes, life is different without him. There are many days I would love to hear him call and say, “Hey Jen Jen,” but I do love the thought of his sweet soul in heaven.
I find comfort knowing that he is enjoying the rolling hills of the real heaven with those he loved by his side. Yes, he is happy. And, me, I am grateful for the grand way he touched my heart and to just remember him a little bit every day.