It has been one week since my grandfather passed away. I had the honor of speaking at his funeral and wanted to share with you what a great man he was… Sow seeds into the lives of others, it is what you are remembered for in your death that creates a legacy… It is what makes a difference.
I love the story about my grandfather’s name. I can only imagine the endless conversations when my great-grandmother was pregnant with him…In german, I’m certain. His daddy was adamant about his name being Edwin William Franke Jr. And obviously he won. But my great-grandma didn’t care what was on the birth certificate. She wanted to name him Robert, so Bobby he was. My grandpa was called Edwin, Bobby, EW, daddy, and to me and so many others… poppy. My grandmother called him our garbage disposal because he always was in charge of eating anything on our plates that we didn’t finish. Appropriately he always said, “You can call me whatever you want, just don’t call me late to dinner.”
His dinner one evening was on the stove. It was a gravy, meat-filled stew. He came in and gobbled it up. My grandmother walked in the kitchen and said, “bobby! What are you doing?”
He replied, with a mouthful, “This is good mama!” To which she had to confess…”That’s dog food!”
My grandfather, my poppy, lived a life of service. No matter what the call was, he served with humility. I guess He honestly didn’t have much of a choice being married to my grandmother. He gives credit to the success of his marriage to two words- YES, DEAR. But in all actuality, this was his very character. No matter what we asked or needed, he was there for us. He may not have had much to say, but he was there.
He took boys hunting, and taught them how to make birdhouses.
He pitched 100s of tennis balls for at-home batting practice.
He bought a farmhouse in Minnesota so he could be closer to his family.
He read to toddlers, and rocked babies.
He teased us, calling us things like “snaggle tooth” when we would show him our latest toothless smile. He was always picking on us, or cracking jokes. The night before he passed, he was laying in bed, and Trey, my brother, went to say goodbye. Trey says, “Poppy, I need to go.” Poppy replied, “Well if you need to go there is a bathroom right there.” And then he smiled.
He would dig deep in his pocket when we showed him our report cards, handing us maybe a dollar or two or five.
He taught us dominoes and poker.
He paid us to sweep up the grass after he mowed.
He washed dishes.
He was my personal chauffeur–because I had no desire to drive as a teenager. Probably because once while in Minnesota he was giving me a driving lesson and fell asleep before he taught me how to make a turn. I knocked that mailbox clear to the barn. He picked us up from practices and wherever we were, with whoever we were with.
He bought us candy bars and sodas.
He didn’t mind when we ate all the pecans he just spent hours cracking and shelling.
And ever so often he would pat our leg or shoulder, or hug a neck and say I love you baby or I love you bud.
Never too many words. But definitely never a complaint. He was always there.
And if he wasn’t there, like sometimes on Sunday morning when we were at church, he was home barbecuing. Or he was working, because even after he retired he was wise enough to know he needed to be out of the house for at least a few hours every day if he was going to keep his sanity.
Then there were the times he was simply “resting his eyes.” which was code for I’m napping.
Throughout my life I watched him. How he moved, what he said. I studied his hands. I remember once I stood at the side of the dining room table watching him eat cheese, crackers and dried sausage. I just looked at him, and he would cut me a piece and scoot it over to me with his finger. Never saying a word…One for him and then one for me.
I spent the night at my grandparents house often, and I would snuggle between the two of them. My grandmother would rub my tummy to help me sleep. When her arm would get tired, she would reach over to him and put his hand on my tummy. After a few seconds I would push his hand off…his rough hand filled with callouses…and go to find my grandmothers. My poppy was a hard worker.
I remember once, going into the bathroom and pulling out his razor and shaving…or should I say cutting up…my face because of the mornings I would sit on the toilet seat while watching him shave.
I watched him.
I watched him love my grandmother. In fact, Omie and Poppy were sort of one word And no matter how angry she made him, or how many hours he spent in his workshop paying his penance for some silly argument they had, he always forgave her.
I remember him sitting in the car at some store parking lot, countless hours, reading his paper and just waiting. Because he would drive my grandmother wherever she wanted to go. Then later I would watch him kiss her when he left, probably for the store to pick up the things she forget because she was too busy talking to everyone
My brother and my cousin and I have decided that he was pretty much the most patient person on the face of this earth.
I can only recall seeing him angry, maybe once or twice, and it was only because of someone he loved being hurt.
He was kind to everyone he met, and ushered in a spirit of acceptance with his smile. His infectious, toothy smile, that lit up his blue eyes and and touched your heart, making you feel important and loved. In fact just few weeks ago, my daughters best friend was visiting from out of town…I introduced her to him and said, “Poppy this is Sally, she came all the way from florida…” He responded, “just to see me?” and then flashed his grin.
His kindness, his patience, his love. His peaceful spirit, his servant spirit, his generosity his ability to forgive, his humility…His entire way of life was an example of Christ.
And specifically for me, he fulfilled the scripture in Psalm 68:5 A father for the fatherless.
He may have been my grandfather. But he was the only father I knew. I’m grateful for the love he poured into my life. I’m grateful for the joy he brought to this life, I’m grateful to have seen him in his final hours as he sang worship songs and talked with Jesus, slipping peacefully into his eternal life with Christ. Jesus was glorified in poppy’s life and his death. I pray to only be as privileged.