We all want to be remembered, now and after we’ve passed from this earth. That desire to make a mark that transcends time is especially vital to our aging loved ones. And to us as well. “Bring out the stories,” I say. Heartfelt, funny, and insightful, stories help us get to the heart of matter. And to the heart of people.
Take Grandpa Harley, for example. Through stories, mostly told by my father, a minister and storyteller, we children learned about the grandpa behind the quiet demeanor he presented to the world. He had cared for his first wife through her 12 years of tuberculosis, while raising my dad, his son. Later he remarried and had three children. Many of my memories revolved around playing “Red Light, Green Light,” and other games with our cousins.
Grandpa Harley was a “pray-er.” At least that’s what I called him. When we gathered together before our family began the 100-mile drive home, Grandpa always prayed. His prayers were so long we kids knew that if we were close to needing to go to the bathroom, we should go before the prayer, or we could have an accident. Another thing about his prayers: they were always punctuated with “Amens.”
One day, in his 70th year, he mowed the lawn at the church, something he did every week. He felt tired afterwards, but not too tired to pray for the pastor and others in the congregation with special needs. The next morning, he suffered a massive heart attack and went to heaven.
Our family has been pulling out some old photos lately. The last picture we have of Grandpa was in our wedding fifty years ago. Two of out grandpas attended. Grandpa Harley was his usual shy self. Grandpa Joe, from Eastern Washington, was his polar opposite. Somehow, though, Grandpa Joe got tricked into sampling a ripe olive that wasn’t cured. Sour, sour. But afterwards, a great story.
Digging through the memories is great for our children and grandchildren. Through stories, they can pick up on the importance of legacy. We can, too.