Grandpa, thank you for my heritage.

Grandpa, I know you were born into a rough family. I know that you didn’t have a firm foundation of faith in the home you grew up in, perhaps even the opposite. But, I know you made a choice. That choice has echoed for decades and helped to create the strongest family I have ever observed.

My family.

I know the family and faith that I inherited and eventually made mine, was a gift.

That gift I recieved and benefit from today was because of the choice you made over 60 years ago. It is not lost on me how blessed I am, how blessed my 11 cousins are, how blessed my kids are and how blessed my grandkids will be because you chose to forge a new path.

You chose to disregard the hardships of your family and childhood, to rise above the minimal expectations and chase after Jesus, no matter the cost.

I am who I am not only because of that choice but because of decades of your faithfulness and perserverance.

Choosing to break the mold and create a heritage is easy. Following through and living it out is harder than I can possibly imagine. By God’s grace you did that for your wife of 50 plus years, for your four children, for your 12 grandchildren and for your 11 great-grandchildren and counting.

How grand your smile must have been this morning, upon hearing well done good and faithful servant spoken from the mouth of the Jesus you chose to faithfully serve day in and day out. I’m sure you made a joke about it taking long enough to get you up there, or asked how the fishing was this far north of the bridge (Upper Peninsula inside family joke).

I don’t know everything you went through, but I am thankful that it made you the man who I came to know, love and emulate.

Most of all, I am grateful for not having to build a heritage for my family from scratch. Standing on the shoulders of the family that I was born into, I can only pray that I am able to build on it and make it stronger for those that come after me.

Thank you Grand-Pooh-Ba.

Thank you for your choices, your faithfulness, your honesty, your commitment to your savior and your family, your humor, your passion for family vacations that I now get to instill in my children, for the way you loved Grandma, your bad jokes, your love for Bethel College and for the local church, for Sunday dinners, for grapevines and wild black raspberry bushes, for homegrown Christmas trees, for sasafrass leaves and fresh rhubarb from the garden, for whacking bags of salt with axes to make homemade ice cream and backyard Easter egg hunts, for Lake Manistique and road trips, for not taking this world to seriously and majoring on the majors.

For loving deeply, for loving well, for being the leader and example our family needed, thank you.

See you soon.

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