My Grampa! When I say those two words, it can mean only one thing: I’ve recalled some warm memories. My Grampa was quite a man. One of the earliest memories of Grampa was sitting on his lap. I would place my chin on his shoulder and let him bounce my head while I said, “Ahhh” as if I was being examined by a doctor. I thought it made a funny sound.
Grampa was retired and spent a great deal of his time in the workshop, which was heated by an old potbelly stove. He made doll furniture, dressers, picture frames, lamps, and knickknack shelves. During the spring and summer, wearing his bib overalls, Grampa planted, cultivated the garden. Grampa could not stand being idle. I remember times during the summer when he would hire himself out as a wallpaper hanger. He would get my uncle to help him. He was pretty good at painting houses, too.
Grampa was a saint. Wearing his wire-framed glasses he’d sit at the diningroom table reading, studying and preparing for his Sunday school class. Grampa wasn’t just a “church-goer.” He was an active participant in worship. My, he was a prayer warrior.
We always attended The Salvation Army services. Grampa led the singing. If the song was a “peppy one”, he’d encourage us to praise the Lord by putting our hands together and clapping. Grampa was really a quiet man except when witnessing for Christ. When the members of The Salvation Army went to the “street corner” for the “open air service”, Grampa was leading the songs, praying and encouraging us to witness for Christ. During one open ari service a man actually attacked a cornet player. I suppose that might have frightened some people, but not Grampa. Next time the open air service was held, Grampa was there!
Sunday, though a day of rest, was still a day of spreading God’s word. After Sunday School and worship service, he’d go home. While Gramma would be getting Sunday dinner on the table, Grampa would walk the neighborhood distributing weekly magazines published by The Salvation Army. Sometimes I’d tagged along. I loved spending time with Grampa.
Grampa was a strong man emotionally. I remember him crying only twice. Once when one of his brothers died and then when Gramma died. He was always trying to comfort others in their grief. His grief was almost inconsolable.
One night when I was away at college, my father called to tell Grampa had had a stroke and the doctors didn’t know if he’d live. I flew home to see Grampa and the rest of the family. Grampa was still in the hospital. True to his God, Grampa was still witnessing even in the hospital. Others told me he didn’t know what he was doing. He looked up at me and asked if I’d brought home my cornet.
“No, Grampa, I left it at school.” He didn’t seem to hear my answer. He began singing an old song, “Oh, How I love Jesus”. I’d heard too many stories of the old saints singing one of their favorites songs and then dying. I wasn’t ready to see Grampa to die, so I left the room and cried. Grampa didn’t die that day. He lingered for about five years. I couldn’t believe it, but I was home the day he died.
If I could write a epitaph for Grampa, it would read:
Promoted to Glory
He Love God, Shared God
Served God and Lives in Glory
But why is my Grampa so special? You see, Grampa worked in a cabinet factory years ago and in an industrial accident his right arm (his dominant arm) was severed off just above the elbow. He built doll furniture, dressers; painted houses; wallpapered, planted and cultivated the garden, lead the hymn singing with only one arm. I never heard him complain to God or anyone.
Grampa trusted God so much that even in the face of disability, he could sing, “Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.”
I love you, Grampa. I didn’t tell you often enough, but I loved you! Thanks for the witness for Christ that you gave not only me and the entire family, but the community.
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