As many of you know, my grandpa, who I was very close to, passed away this week. Thank you all for your prayers. I was blessed to be asked by him prior to his death to give the eulogy. Here is that eulogy:
Today we aren’t just burying my grandfather, we are burying my mentor and my hero. I can’t help but miss him. I go from periods of being fine to being a blubbering fool and it’s all because of him. I’ve felt a little lost over the past few days without him. It was only two weeks ago that I had called him for some help on a project for one of my seminary classes on the Old Testament. How do you replace that?
I know God will send me another mentor to keep me strong. But he won’t be Grandpa. He won’t build me a toy person out of spare metal parts in his shop. He won’t make me a toy Tyrannosaurus Rex out of odd blocks of wood from behind the shed. He won’t challenge me to study scripture for what it says, regardless of what others think it says…not like grandpa.
My grandpa’s thing was the creation of the world. He just knew that there was a gap between Genesis 1:1 and the rest of the chapter where literally millions of years could have been. Many of us here have listened to his arguments and I even incorporated them in my last project. I personally think that we’ll all be a little surprised to find out what happened at the beginning of time, and I’m glad for grandpa. I’m sure one of his first questions to God was how it all happened.
He was the leader of the Smith family. He and grandma raised four believers, who in turn have instilled Christian values into their families. Speaking of grandma, they shared 63 years together. You just don’t see that as often now days. I’m grateful for that example in my life.
I remember growing up and coming over for dinner on Sunday after church and meeting missionaries that he and my grandma had invited over. They would often spend a few nights at the house while passing through. That example, that testimony, is why my wife and I will be opening our home to missionaries visiting on furlough.
In fact, they were often quick to open their home to people in need. When an old Navy buddy of mine was driving with his wife through town to see me on leave, my grandparents opened their home to them. When I told my friend that my grandpa had died, that was the first thing he mentioned. An open door is the sort of legacy my grandfather leaves behind.
But he also leaves behind the mark of a craftsman. His many models and toys are a testament to him as a creator of things, and he is a mirror of the master creator, our Father in heaven. I can only imagine the stories he and God are swapping about building things right now.
Grandpa was also in the Army Air Corps in World War Two. He used to tell me stories of sailing over the Atlantic to England and flying over Germany. He introduced me to his pilot, who became a good friend of mine. I admired his service in war and it is one of the reasons I became a military man myself.
These are words spoken by Paul, but could have been spoken by my grandpa:
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
And we do long for his appearing. Losing my grandpa makes me long for it like never before, just so I can see him again. Yet I don’t mourn like those who have no hope. I mourn as one having hope, who misses my grandfather dearly, but knowing that I will see him again someday.
In the Navy, when a Sailor retires, he is piped ashore for the last time with the following statement, which I have modified for today:
AYE MATES, FOR 87 YEARS THIS MAN HAS STOOD THE WATCH. WHILE SOME OF US WERE IN SCHOOL LEARNING OUR TRADE, THIS MAN HAS STOOD THE WATCH. YES…EVEN BEFORE SOME OF US WERE BORN INTO THIS WORLD, THIS MATE STOOD THE WATCH…TODAY WE ARE HERE TO SAY, SHIPMATE THE WATCH STANDS RELIEVED. RELIEVED BY THOSE YOU HAVE TRAINED, GUIDED, AND LED. SHIPMATE YOU STAND RELIEVED.
My grandpa stood the watch for God for 87 years. He trained me and others, challenged us, to be strong in our faith. Grandpa, you stand relieved. We have the watch.