Yesterday I went to the memorial service of a man in our church community. I thought I was going to support his widow who has been an amazing encourager to me for the past fifteen years, but I was wrong. God sent me to that memorial service to show me what a grandparent can and should be.
The man was 79 years old and the grandfather of seven grandchildren. One of his grandsons came to the podium to give the family message. His simple, hesitating, sometimes tearful words revealed a man who knew that being a grandfather was more than biology but that it was a calling from his God
This wonderful man had fulfilled his calling by giving his grandchildren three things.
His grandchildren knew that he was always there for them. From his grandson’s words we could all see that there was never a time when his grandkids even considered that their grandfather would not have time to listen to them or to play with them, to read to them, to come to their sports activities, to watch them in the school play, to go to church with them.
The years of grandparenting, often the years of retirement, are not the years to claim as our own – not when a brand new generation is growing up in front of us needing the extra time we now have.
This grandfather had given his grandchildren the great gift of his time.
Over and over again, the grandson spoke of his grandfather’s firm faith and integrity. He knew what he believed. He knew right from wrong. And he was willing to stand up for his beliefs. His grandchildren had seen him do it.
A great deal changes in 79 years. Changing culture hammers at our beliefs trying to chip away at them, to slowly erode and change them. I’m sure that at least one of those seven grandchildren challenged the beliefs of their grandfather with opposing ideas they had heard at school or from their friends. However, the example this grandfather left his family was that you must stand firm in your beliefs, you must stand up for the right regardless of what others around you say or do.
He gave his grandchildren the example of a man who would stand for the truth.
The grandson alluded to a recent time when he and his girlfriend were invited to visit his grandfather and the older man called the younger man aside apparently to give some advice. About dating? About the girlfriend? About how to treat a lady? I can only imagine that this grandfather took the time to observe his grandchild and knew when it was time to share some wisdom with him.
To lovingly observe and to gently share wisdom when appropriate – such a gift this grandfather gave to the next generation of his family.
We give our grandchildren many gifts – dolls, toy trucks, bikes, skateboards…but what about the gifts of Time, Example, and Wisdom? They are not cheap gifts and they come at the cost of our newly earned free time, but could we regret it for a legacy of believing grandchildren?
More than once the grandson called his grandfather a good man, a great man. What a legacy this grandfather left for his family!