They were simple people. No different than the millions of other couples who weathered two world wars, the Great Depression and the poverty of rural South. Only a handful of people even remember they ever existed. I am one of them.
Grandpa Day was the eldest of nineteen children. Ironically it was his dad that died after the birth of the last child. A widow with so many mouths to feed, she relied heavily on my grandpa. He faithfully stood by his mother until the last child left home. At forty-one, he was finally able to take a wife.
He first noticed her when he took his uniform to the base cleaners. She made clothing alternations and attached uniform insignias. Captured by her beauty and curious about the inquisitive 4-year old at her side, he asked around.
Her story was unexpected. Not a 20-year old war widow, but an unwed mother, jilted by a soldier. At fifteen, the starry-eyed girl had fallen for the oldest line in the book. Abandoned on the army base, she did whatever she could to provide for her son and herself.
Whether he felt his options were limited, pity, compassion or truly smitten by my grandma, I never knew. He pursued her despite his family’s harsh disapproval and after a year they had a modest civil ceremony. My grandpa adopted her son and proudly claimed him as his own.
Grandpa always wanted to be a farmer. He loved the land. Sharecropping was his choice. He was a good farmer. Good enough to be recommended to manage a 300-acre spread with a modest salary, a newly remodeled farm house, a fishing pond, two tractors and a beef herd. They seized their good fortune and moved.
They settled into their new life and welcomed my mother into their lives. Grandpa spoiled his baby girl, but my uncle never noticed. He had always felt deeply loved by his new papa. Sis was just one more person to love.
One thing more was added to their lives – church. Along the way, they had come to know the saving and forgiving grace of Jesus. The small country Methodist church embraced the new family. Soon they were vital members of the congregation.
The years passed. The children grew up, married and started families of their own. Grandpa grew too old to work the farm. He retired and they moved to town, but they stayed faithful to their church. It had grown over the years. Much of the growth attributed to their involvement as lay leaders.
I spent many happy hours with my grandparents. They taught me about Jesus. I have no memory of them apart from Jesus. He filled their lives.
My grandparents prayed for all of their grandchildren. Good thing, we strayed. But their prayers lassoed us back into Jesus’ arms. They can be extremely proud of their great-grandchildren. All of them are believers, married to godly spouses.
They never had much. His modest sharecropper salary and her humble seamstress salary were all the income they ever had. Despite the appearance of little, they always seemed to have much. They paid cash for everything they ever owned. Whether it was groceries, cars or their house, they paid for it with cash up front – never credit. Grandma said, “If you supposed to have it, God’ll send the money for it, otherwise you leave it on the shelf!”
Their financial means always fascinated me. I asked how they did it. “Simple,” Grandma said, “you pay God his 10%, you pay yourself 10%, you save 10% and you live on 70%.” I am still mystified how they could exercise such discipline.
They passed onto glory years ago. Their funeral was a miraculous event. Over 500 people signed the guest registry in that small community church. Everyone had a story as they comforted us at the wake.
Story after story was told of how my grandparents had helped a time of financial disaster. College tuitions covered. Cars repaired. Groceries bought. Medical expenses paid. Missionary journeys financed. I was astounded. This was the same grandparents that had set aside $3,000.00 for all seven grandchildren to go to college.
To this day, I am still amazed and astounded! None of the great-grandchildren knew them. We grandchildren are aging fast. On earth, they will be forgotten. But written in indelible ink, their story echoes through the corridors of eternity where they are remembered – forever!
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