My grandpa went home to be with Jesus on September 11. I shared the following tribute at his memorial service on September 21.
There are two smells that I will always associate with my grandpa: fiberglass and butterscotch. Grandma and I never could understand why he didn’t like chocolate, but I loved making him butterscotch chip cookies. He always had butterscotch and caramel candies on hand, and if he wasn’t eating butterscotch ice cream, his ice cream usually had butterscotch syrup on top.
But I like to think my grandpa’s sweet tooth was symbolic of his kind heart and his love for people. I loved to help with data entry for their fiberglass business, because I got to sit in the office and listen to Grandpa answer the phone. He’d never met a stranger: Grandpa was a people person through and through. He always had a ready joke and a listening ear, whether it was a pastor across the country or a grandchild with “probrems”. And while I remember many hours working under Grandpa’s instruction, whether it was picking up limbs or planting poplar trees, I don’t ever remember a harsh word. He led quietly and he led by example. And we always knew he loved us. Especially when there was inclement weather close at hand.
While my grandpa could build or fix almost anything he put his hands to, it was in the fiberglass shop that his ingenuity, hard work ethic, and business sense really shone. It was all a mystery to me, but I was fascinated to watch each baptistry take shape.
Grandpa was always careful to leave his fiberglass-covered overalls and shoes in the shop so as not to make more work for Grandma to do. On the days when he’d been in oil or grease, he’d wash his hands with Fast Orange soap. And then in the evenings, he would sit and rub the callouses off his hands with sandpaper before he applied hand cream. As a child I saw smoothing his hands as a never-ending task, but as an adult I realized it was just one more way he showed love to Grandma, by trying to make his hands a little softer to hold.
Words can’t express how grateful I am for the legacy of hard work and commitment my grandpa left. But 8 years ago I married a man who in so many ways reminds me of Grandpa. And I hope and pray every day that we get to celebrate at least 58 years, just like Grandpa and Grandma.