My Grandpa was killed in a car accident yesterday. He was a fan of this blog and I want to pay tribute to him here.
This is unexpected and I was not prepared. Matt's GrandDaddy has been dying for two years, Lydia's Grandfather has been in and out of the hospital lately, and Will is at home with his Bub as cancer takes her health. But my Grandpa was still smart, jolly, sophisticated and spry and I was hoping my children would get to know him.
I don't remember any conversations I had with Grandpa when I was a kid. I remember him telling stories a bit, but mainly I remember the things he did for me. He built me a wonderful backyard playhouse when we lived in Tallahassee. He took my brother and I to the Tweetsie Railroad amusement park. He made me a dollhouse. He and Grandma provided extra money for my car and so I could go to college without worrying about finances.
In college is when we really started talking (or maybe just when I really started paying attention) - about what I was doing with my life, Christianity, religion, politics, and the politics of religion. He was so proud of me. My senior year in college, my parents couldn't come to the awards chapel at the end of the year, but Grandpa and Grandma were there with bells on, about to bust their buttons over my accomplishments. He intimidated Matt when they first met, but Grandpa made it clear he was proud of him too.
Grandpa was a world traveler. He was a smooth talker too, and could chat up just about anyone. In recent years, he started talking more about his experiences as a fighter pilot in the Black Sheep Squadron during WWII. Later, he was a spy in Indonesia. Then, after retiring from the Marines, he became a gentleman farmer with an orange grove. He built the mountain house himself. He was a follower of Christ, concerned about world missions, theology, and studying the Bible. He was a servant of the community, in retirement especially, when he drove ambulances and hearses, spoke at service clubs, and volunteered at the Chamber of Commerce. He loved Grandma, and they had fun teasing each other. In 8th grade, I interviewed him for a school project and he told me how important his family was to him.
I miss all these things already. Grandpa was a great man, and I'm grateful for all the time I spent with him, and to have a little bit of him in me.