I’ll never forget visiting Grandpa and Grandma for harvest when I was in sixth grade. It was my first solo trip by plane and I arrived just in time to hop up in the John Deere combine with Grandpa and bring in that year’s crop. They were really long days, but we had the best time talking about sports, business, and family and then were always greeted back home by Grandma’s cooking.
One night, as we were putting away the combine and fixing a part that had come loose, Grandpa cut the palm of his hand on the exposes metal. A clean cut straight across his hand. And it was a gusher. Before I knew it, there was blood flowing down his hand and on to the ground. As I started to reach for the paper towels on the work bench, I caught him looking at me with a smile on his face. He wasn’t paying attention to his hand, or the pain I am sure he was feeling, he was watching me to see how I was reacting. When I later told my Dad this story, Dad told me that Grandpa was smiling because I didn’t flinch and that I wasn’t too much of a city kid after all.
The strength to love through pain is one of the things I will always remember about Grandpa. He was strong for everyone in his life, even when it was really hard for him. And a small squeeze from Grandma’s little hand was a huge source of strength for Grandpa, they were so in love.
I’ll never play a round of golf, a hand of cribbage, or sing a hymn at the top of my lungs without thinking about Grandpa. Not only because he was better at those things than anyone I’ve ever known, but he loved seeing others join in and do well at those things with him.
I’ll also never take for granted the relationship that I have with my Dad because of the relationship my Dad had with his Dad, my Grandpa. Dad and Grandpa worked hard on their relationship. They knew they were wired differently in parts of life, but they also knew that they loved each other more than any of their differences. My Dad made Grandpa so proud and loved him so much. For as long as I can remember, when our minivan packed to the gills with kids and suitcases would start to pull away from another visit to the Iowa farm, Grandpa wouldn’t be able to hold back the tears of saying good-bye to his son. It was love beaming from his tear soaked face and we all knew how much he loved us all, but especially Dad.
And now that Grandpa has passed on and is singing hymns with Grandma louder than ever before, those he leaves behind are here to carry on his legacy. A legacy of strength, love, and pride in your family no matter where they are or what lies ahead.