Graybeards’ Charge

Have you ever considered how blessed you are, if the graybeards in your family are/were God-fearing, gentle souls? I look at my own family and feel cheated that my grandfathers hoarded their wisdom and experience during their golden years.

I never met Grandpa Smith. He commercial fished in the Gulf of Mexico. He was a machinist by trade and maintained equipment at a California mercury mine during the Great Depression. He was a veteran of World War I who suffered from a mustard-gas attack, and he worked in the shipyards during WWII. He had one daughter (my mom), whom he never visited, but he sent crates of oranges from Arizona once a year till he died.

Step-grandpa Johnny was Castilian Spanish, a veteran of WWII, who marched with his company into Germany. He witnessed the aftermath of the“ final solution” (extermination of the Jews). Johnny was an accomplished horse trainer, saddle maker, gunsmith, and an alcoholic. He was also abusive, violent, and seething with pent-up rage. He died alone, and no one knew it for several days.

Grandpa Harold, my father’s dad, was a banker, a successful Real Estate entrepreneur, and a man who loved his Old Crow. Silent and brooding, Harold’s claim to fame harked back to carrying pistols and payrolls on horseback near the Arizona border. What stories he might have told, if he had cast aside his resentment over ill-health and had gathered us grandkids to his lap. All he left behind was a safe of gold and silver that no one ever admitted to finding.

All three of these men lived hard-scrabble lives, yes–but not any harder than others who chose to be Godly icons in their families. I challenge each of my sons and friends to be one of those God-loving, gentle souls. We may crave a solitary life–but our mission is clear: to tell OUR story–the record of God’s grace cached within every season we have lived.


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