Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Tribute to Pop-Pop

This is the tribute I gave to my grandfather at his funeral.  I was talking to someone the other day about it and said I thought I might post it here to share with friends who were not at the funeral.  She encouraged me to do so.  I had to re-write a few things because I was able to write differently when I was speaking than I needed to for folks to read it.

I was blessed to have Pop-Pop all to myself for many years before my siblings and cousins were born.  Some of those years were even spent living with my grandparents, so I was able to spend even more time with him, which was just fine with me!  He was more than just a grandfather to me, he was a dad before God blessed me with one.  Both pop-pop and grandma have been huge influences in my life.  I was born in a very tumultuous time in our country… Into a situation that was not the best of circumstances…  As always, God was in control.  He gave me a grandfather who loved me with all his heart.  It took a bit for him to warm up to me, but he did! 
My grandfather never talked about my color.  He accepted me as his grandchild in a time where bi-racial children were not something accepted.  I say this because it speaks to my Pop-pop’s character.  He could have rejected me.  I’d like to think that is was because I was such a cute baby, but it wasn’t.  I was his family.  He accepted me as that and never treated me as less.

He was so patient with me.  I would follow him everywhere.  If he was fixing something, I wanted to fix it too, or at least try…  I would try to talk like him, even walk like him.  He had a way of walking where his head was tilted a bit.  I remember walking behind him, trying to do the same thing.  I learned how to drive a riding lawnmower because when I was little, he used to let me sit on his lap while he was cutting the grass.  He used to make sure he parked his car in his garage every night.  Sometimes, he would let me sit on his lap and steer the car into the garage.  I really thought I was doing something.  Looking back, he was doing most of the steering.  He always had his hand on the bottom of the steering wheel.  He kind of helped guide me through life that way at times.  I would ask him things, he would gently show me the way to do it.

He taught me how to tie my shoes, ride a bike, and even do maintenance on cars.  One year he found a bike in the garbage, if I remember right.  He fixed that bike up and gave it to me for Christmas.  That was a great gift, not just because it was my first bike.  It was great because he took the time to fix it and spruce it up as a gift for me!

As I got older, our relationship just got better.  Even though there were more grandchildren to share his love, I never felt less important or that there was less time for me.  I was talking to a friend the other day about Pop.  She and I used to go over to their house after I was driving.  She said, “I always loved the stories your grandfather would tell about growing up.  They always made me laugh.”  He just had that way with people.  They just seemed to love him.

He would just love on all of us.  He would bounce my siblings and cousins as babies on his leg.  He would take little ones for walks.  Witness the boys getting involved in all kinds of shenanigans, which were probably brought on by some story he had told them.  Of course, it didn’t help that you would have full access to his shop in the basement and the many tools to help in those plans.

Family was always important to Pop-Pop.  We would spend holidays together, have cookouts in the summer at their house.  When I got married and spent time away from home, those cookouts were some of the things I missed most.  I remember one Thanksgiving meal when, as we were sitting down, he said, “Make sure you put the mashed potatoes in front of Staci.  You know how much she loves them.” I just giggled.  The man knew me.

I remember telling the family when Will and I found out we were going to have our first child.  It was Easter and we were all sitting around the table in the dining room.  Little did I know that he and I would both be in the hospital at the same time when Jared was born.  Pop-pop was in the hospital with a hematoma that pushed on his brain and paralyzed him on one side for a short time.  I remember coming up to visit him when Jared was a little over a month old.  Watching Pop holding Jared, and me being so thankful that he was still here.

My kids have so many great memories of their great grandfather.  Jared said he will always remember pop-pop sneaking cookies.  He said even when he couldn’t move that well, he could somehow get in the kitchen and get some cookies.  Pop-pop always had 2 liter sodas in the basement for family events, or if you were over helping with something, he would give you a glass of soda for refreshment.  Jeanelle told me this story about pop-pop.   She said she had a bottle of juice.  She had finished it and brought it in the kitchen to throw away.  Pop-pop was sitting at the table with a 2 liter bottle of root beer and motioned for Jeanelle to come over.  She said he told her to put the bottle up and he commenced to fill the bottle with root beer.  He said, “Here ya go” and sent Jeanelle off.  I started laughing when she told me this, then thought, why is this the first time I am hearing this???  But, that was pop.  Always wanting us to have a cookie, or soda, or some dessert, or Manishevitz and fruitcake at Christmas and New Year once you were old enough.  Or, if you got to the house at the right time, wanting you to join them with in a meal.

I could go on and on, but I would just say- ask any of us.  We have such great memories.  The last thing, I would want you to know about my grandfather, is the greatest gift he left me with.  I grew up watching my grandfather faithfully go to church every week.  He would often go with my Aunt Gertie on Saturday nights.  It was important to him.  After he moved down here, he found a parish to attend and he went until he couldn’t drive anymore.  Sometimes family members would take him.  My mom has told me stories of them going through confirmation class as kids.  God was an important part in my grandfather’s life.  I know my grandfather was saved by the blood of Jesus.  By sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross to save us.  I know that as the Bible says in Romans 10:8-10
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

So, although I am sad today, I also can rejoice in the fact that I will see Pop-Pop again in heaven.  I know he is in the presence of the Lord.  That he has joined in “the great cloud of witnesses” as it says in Hebrews 12.
Everyone talks about legacy and my Pop-pop’s greatest legacy in me is this: my relationship with Christ.  His taking time for church and God made me see at a young age that there was something important about it.  Today that legacy is a huge part of my identity.  It is what helps me be a better wife, mom, sister, friend…  So I end with this, what part of pop’s legacy is in you?  What will people see in you that was great about him? 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Time is Now...

There's an old quote attributed to Ben Franklin- "Nothing is certain, but death and taxes."  I'm not sure taxes are even certain to some, but that's a whole other subject for another time perhaps.  What I am certain of is this, we will all be born and we will all die.  Yet, somehow, we are all surprised when either circumstance happens.

Yesterday, I went to see my grandfather who is most likely, barring a miracle, in his last days of life.  He has lived a long good life 105 years.  He has seen much change in this world.  Living to a ripe old age of 105 doesn't change the facts for him, he was born and he will one day die.  The question is, what are you going to do with the time you have here.

Ecclesiastes 3 speaks of there being a season for all things in life.  I often hear people complain about the season they are in.  "When my kids move out, I'll..." or "When I retire, I'll.."  We are so busy looking ahead, that we have forgotten to be thankful for this day in itself.  To live it to it's fullest.

I am not asking you to quit your job and go live in some remote tribal village.  While that is certainly a worthy cause and can change many lives.  I'm thinking a little more simple, but just as life changing.  I'm saying how about today, tell your loved ones how much you care about them.  Tell them how proud you are of them.  Spend some time with your spouse, your kids, your parents, your siblings.  Call a friend you haven't spoken to in a while and say hi.

Please, please, please... invest some time in your kids lives.  You will be rewarded for it later in life.  You don't have to be perfect.  It doesn't have to be some elaborately planned event.  How about a pizza?  A hike.  A bike ride.  Bowling.  Something you can have time to talk.  Stop telling your kids that you can't wait till vacation is over or they graduate.  I am telling you right now, I know a lot of people who have adult kids that have now moved out and they miss them deeply.

Sit down with your family and have dinner.  I remember sitting with my grandparents for breakfast and dinner.  In the summer we would sit in the kitchen and have lunch.  We would listen to Paul Harvey for part of  lunch time.  We talked a lot around that kitchen table.  They learned about my school day and what was happening in my life.  I recently visited a friend who sits down with her kids every night and let's each of them recount their school day.  One of them has more time than the other each night.  I thought, "How important those kids must feel!  In a world that never slows down, they have their own little moment each day."

Recently, I went to a one day conference for youth workers called the Orange Tour.   Reggie Joiner , the founder of Orange, spoke a lot about time and our investments in kid's lives.  He said two things that I would like to share: 1.- "Love over time gives a kid a sense of worth" and 2.- "The way you love kids, while their kids, can dramatically affect their future."  I'm pretty sure that can be said for everyone in life.

Please don't wait till the end of someone's life to try to stuff in all the things you wish you could have said and done.  You will regret it.  Start now.  Don't waste another minute of your life because, as it says in James 4:14 (HCSB),  "You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Unless you were totally unplugged from all forms of information on Monday, you are aware of Monday's shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC.  First, I want to express my deepest sympathy to all the people who lost family and friends in this violent attack.  We have so much that we still do not know.  At this point we know the shooter's name.  Why?  What led to this?  No answers, yet.

What I do know is this.  The victims in these attacks seem to all have one thing in common.  A feeling of helplessness.  They often describe hiding in closets or under desks.  You can literally hear the fear in their voice and rightly so.  I had a friend when I was little.  We were very close friends, but she moved I moved, both many times over.  Our families kept in and out of touch, but I hadn't seen her for years.  I remember finding out that she and 7 other people were killed just before Christmas several years ago by a disgruntled employee.  I remember how I felt when I first heard this.  I remember how angry I was that someone was that cowardly.  I can't imagine what the survivors and their families, as well as the families of the victims are going through.

Sadly, for the victims in these crimes, many of these attacks are in areas where people are not legally allowed to carry weapons for self defense.  I would imagine, in the case of this young man, there would have been many qualified shooters who could have stopped him from his murderous shooting spree.  Major Hasan, the shooter at Ft Hood, chose to fire on defenseless soldiers.  Again, these very qualified soldiers were not allowed to carry weapons for personal defense.  It seems there is always something in common with bullies, cowards, predators and their ilk-  they know where they can do the most harm to people.

What have we learned? Obviously nothing.  Each time one of these horrendous events occurs, our politicians line up and argue both sides of the cause.  What we are left with is a bunch of hot air and that is never helpful.  Simply put, it always reminds me of school and the entire class getting in trouble when one person does something wrong.  Oh, little Johnny wanted to pick a fight at lunch?  The whole class is punished by missing recess.  The whole class suffers.  Little Johnny will probably get hurt tomorrow and we'll go through the whole process again.

The discussion should never start with taking rights away from law abiding people.  They should never be punished for the actions of criminals.  It should also never be assumed that they will commit the heinous crimes these madmen have devised.  We have so many rights in our country.  One of the most important rights in any society is the right to defend oneself.  The right to protect our lives and the lives of those important to us.  We help countries fight for these rights.  Any discussion that begins with taking an inalienable right from law abiding citizens, is moot.

Mental health is an issue that is briefly discussed and then left.  It's the third rail of health care.  Honestly, if it 's bad now, it is not going to get better with the implementation of Obama care.  There are serious issues that need to be discussed within the mental health topic.  We briefly touch them, then quickly begin arguing about guns.  If you can help the troubled mind, you can go a long way to stop this kind of violence.

So, as the discussion heats up again.  Let's be thoughtful about it.  Let's be thoughtful about what the real answers are.  Self defense, conceal carry, these are not bad words.  They are proven to work.  Mental health and the weakness of that system right now.  There is so much that can be fixed there.  Let's start somewhere.  Finally, human life... every human life, is so very important.  Can we start treating them with dignity and respect from day one to the end?  Maybe we can just start with that.