Little Grandpa and His Very Big Legacy

“He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”

Psalm 78:5-7

My husband’s grandfather, whom we affectionately called Little Grandpa, was an amazing man. He was small in stature but had one of the biggest hearts I have ever known another to possess. Born in 1897, the son of a Mennonite preacher, I still remember the story he told of the time the church needed to choose a new bishop. Determining God’s will by the draw of the short straw, Little Grandpa along with four other young men were chosen to participate. Needless to say, Grandpa did not draw the short straw – something I don’t think he ever quite got over. For when he told me the story, he was quick to mutter under his breath that the guy who drew the short straw couldn’t even put a sentence together!  He was an industrious man (he founded Waterloo Stove Shop at the age of 55 years) with a genuine love for others,  generous, a faithful Bible teacher with an engaging sense of humour and a delightful sense of wonder of the world around him.  He was the kindest person I had ever met.  But it was Little Grandpa’s love and devotion to the Lord Jesus that captured my heart. And herein lies the basis for the greatest lesson he taught with his life.

Dave and I met and married at Tennessee Temple University in the mid-70s. Like many students, we didn’t have much money. We couldn’t afford a telephone, so our landlady gave us her number in case our families, one in Louisiana and the other in Ontario, needed to contact us should an emergency occur. One night, Dave’s mom called and left a message for us. Planning to use the pay telephone close to our apartment, we couldn’t seem to find a dime necessary for a collect call home. I will never forget taking one nickel and four pennies to our landlady to see if she would exchange it for a dime!  Upon graduation, we moved to Dave’s hometown of Waterloo, ON and began happily serving in a new church plant.  We lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment, but soon were expecting our first child and began to dream of buying a home to house our growing family. Seeing the need, Little Grandpa graciously offered to loan us funds for a down payment with the understanding we would repay it as we were able. Fast forward four short years and it was apparent that our precious 96-year-old grandpa was getting ready to go home to heaven. Knowing the estate would call in the loan upon his death, he asked us to come to visit him one evening. We did, and with a twinkle in his eye, he handed us the original promissory note we had signed. Scribbled over the note, in his now feeble handwriting, was one word: “Forgiven.”

Grandpa knew we did not have any means to repay the debt we owed to him. At that moment, he was more like Christ than anyone I had ever known. Unable to pay the debt for my sin, Christ loved me and completed the necessary transaction many years ago when He willingly shed His blood on the cross of Calvary. My debt was paid in full.

I want to be this type of life-giving grandparent to my grandchildren. I desire to leave the ones I love with a sweet taste of the love of God on their lips and in their lives a fragrant aroma of the grace of Jesus Christ. I still miss Little Grandpa, but I believe this humble man, who taught me so much about the grace of God, looks down from heaven with joy at the heritage of faith he left behind for the generations that have followed. Well done, Grandpa, well done!

More to explore

The Truth Will Set You Free

The weight of a grandparent’s role can be felt immensely. We hold the stories of the past, the wisdom of experience, and a fierce love for the next generation.

Grandparent, Teach Me to Pray (Part 2)

Part 1 of this blog shared four things to keep in mind as you seek to pass prayer on to your grandkids. Here in Part 2, we’ll look at some specific techniques for helping grandchildren learn what to pray for.

One Response

  1. It was lovely reading this story! I can read how much you love him and how he impacted your life!

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