My great-grandfather passed away last Tuesday and this weekend was filled with remembering him. It was quite amazing to attend the reviewal and see such a large crowd show up to honor his life. All of his six children, 15 grandchildren, and most of his 26 great-grandchildren (of whom I'm the eldest) were there. Many spoke and shared memories and testimonies to his faith in God. I was really moved by how clearly Great-Grandpa's life was a reflection of Christ. He was not a perfect man, but he was a man of great love and great desire to serve others.
He was a master woodworker, and one of his last big projects was creating fifty wooden crosses, one to encourage the faith of a youth in each of the fifty states. Although he could have sold his pieces for quite a bit of money, he chose instead to use this talent purely to bless others. Each of his descendants have received a handcrafted, unique piece from him - and several of us have received multiple works. He did not limit himself to just blood relations, but also blessed the spouses of his children and grandchildren, sometimes surprising us with his gifts.
What is amazing about my family is the legacy of music my great-grandparents left us. Great-Grandpa had a dance band back in the 30's and 40's and played the accordion until he could no longer lift it in his 90's. Great-Grandma was not a performer, but she was very dedicated to supporting music in the family, and my grandfather remembers being allowed out of his supper chores if he would practice his piano music instead. Every Tuesday, right up until the end of his life, Great-Grandpa would lead our family and other volunteers in a sing-along at the local nursing home. When Great-Grandma and later Great-Grandpa went to live in the nursing home, it was already a familiar place with many friends and much love for them.
All of the children were singers and musicians and family prayer at reunions was regularly followed by group singing "Amen." Many of them used their talents professional or in a volunteer capacity at their churches, or in community theater. Just this weekend I listened to three of my cousins and my sister stun me with their talent on the piano, violin, guitar and accordion. And this is all a legacy from Great-Grandpa.
But I think perhaps the strongest legacy, after his faith in Christ, is his devotion and love for Great-Grandma. They were married for 75 years and lived together for all of them, except the very last, when Great-Grandma went to the nursing home. And even then Great-Grandpa visited her nearly every day. In a world where nearly half of the population ends up with a divorce at some point, I find this commitment nearly breathtaking.
Great-Grandpa, I love you. 23 years on earth was too short, but we'll have eternity in Heaven.