It’s March 24th again. I noticed that yesterday as I was signing some paperwork. As I have stated in years past, the 24th has always held some special significance. Janet and I were engaged on December 24th, back in 1972, we were married, on August 24, 1973 and there have been numerous others events on the 24th of the month. For instance, it’s 21 years today since I have had a drink. Yep – completely sober for all that time. And, unfortunately, its been 42 years ago today that my maternal grandfather died.
On a day to day basis, I don’t think as much about my grandfather as I used to. Except when I am working with tools and spending time in my workshop. And that’s been quite a bit lately. Since Janet and I moved into our new home, and most of the upstairs boxes have been unpacked, I have started to focus on the lower level and the workshop that I have so dearly missed for the last twelve years. This house has enough room for me to start up my projects again, unlike having to work in the garage as I have done for all the years that we lived in our last home.
It was great fun to organize the tools and get the workbenches all set up. I asked a handyman to come in and pegboard the walls, install a sink and add electrical around the perimeter of the room. It’s really coming along. Andrew and I are going to try and work on some hobbies together down there and I already have some ideas for things I would like to work on. Today, I even looked at my grandfather’s gavel from his days on the bench in the federal court system and one of the wrenches that he actually made to work on his autos. From what I understand, he had a real passion for spending time with his friends working on cars.
In fact, each member of the group had a different way to mark their tools so when everyone was working together, there was always a way to know what belonged to each person. Grandpa’s “mark” included three notches on each of his tools. I have carried on the tradition and sometimes I even notch my tools to match those now in my chest from Grandpa.
Of course, there are countless things I remember about my grandfather. Heading down to court with him, sitting on the bench as he listened to cases, fishing for perch at Calumet Harbor near Chicago, cutting the grass with his big, old Locke lawnmower, burning leaves in the fall and listening to his stories about God and the cycle of the seasons are all the kinds of things that are top of mind awareness for me.
It also helps me to realize how lucky I am. Grandpa was out on his own by the time he was 13. His mother died before he as a teenager and his younger sister died as well. Both of them succumbed to tuberculosis. He was poor for a great part of his early life. During the depression he lost his home to the bank on at least three different occasions and only by the grace of God did he get it back each time. On his way to marry my grandmother, it started to rain and he stopped at the drug store to buy another tie, as his got too wet to wear. It cost him 10 cents.
And then there are the letters. I have the letters that he wrote about his early life and some of the notes and cards that he send Grandma when he was on the road traveling. They’re sweet, in a way that we really don’t think about when we consider our grandparents. And I still have the chair that he bought me for Sunday evening dinners when I wasn’t tall enough to sit in a regular chair. All in all, I loved my grandfather more than I can put into words. And this year, even more than in the past, I think that I miss him more than usual. That’s because Janet’s folks, for the first time, aren’t here any longer. They have joined the ranks of those who have gone to their heavenly home and I considered Janet’s parents lifelong influences on me – just like Grandpa. In fact, it’s a little lonely today…
Grandpa was a deeply religious man – his favorite book was Judges. But I never learned technical things about the Bible from him – I guess you could say that I learned much more about living the life of a Christian – the example of what it takes to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. And Mom was certainly raised in a Christian home. She was raised in the Methodist Church, just like I was. The verse for tonight is from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In the middle of the book, Paul seems to get caught up in the worship of God and in Eph. 3:21, we are told, “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Did you get that last part? Throughout all the generations – and that means our generation as well as all the ones that have gone before – our mothers and fathers, grandparents and great grandparents – and as far back as we can go all the way back to the beginning.
My encouragement is that you have a legacy to continue – to make sure that the worship of God continues in your generation and the succeeding generations of your family. My prayer is that you will demonstrate a devotion the God that your family, and particularly the younger people, will admire and emulate. Because I am sure that I would like to be remembered generations from now the way I remember Grandpa – and through it all, God gets the glory. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…