Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Man I Did Not Know But Will Never Forget

"81 YEAR OLD MAN IS KILLED WHILE RIDING HIS BIKE"  



That was the headline in the small town's newspaper.  It really says very little and the normal response would be something to the effect that he lived a good life and probably didn't suffer as his death was on impact.

Allow me to tell you about this incredible, out of the ordinary 81-year-old man. 
He was my son-in-law's grandfather.  My daughter, Rochelle and her husband Thomas purchased Grandpa's homestead and farm last year.  Thomas' Grandma had to have a hip replacement and they sold their homestead as it was too difficult for her to climb the stairs and maintain the big home in their senior years.   She loved their new condo with all the modern amenities.  Rochelle and Thomas were not planning on living there for a few years so Grandpa asked if he could continue to maintain the property for them.  He enjoyed doing it and it was great exercise for him.

He was no stranger to hard labor....

The property consists of 11 acres of pristine, manicured grounds and the home where Thomas' father was raised.  There are several gardens and fruit trees.   There is enough carefully stacked firewood to last several years in one of the outbuildings.  The entire acreage is fenced and the trails that wind around and through the property are clean and without overgrowth obstructing them.

Rochelle and Thomas live over 1,000 miles away and made the trip to visit Grandpa and Grandma every 6 weeks.  They would stay on the property and continue their preparation getting the house ready for their eventual move there.

Grandpa no longer drove a car and took it upon himself to ride his bicycle every day over five miles each way to tend the grounds. 

Riding his bike 10 miles a day wasn't enough!

Grandpa's bike riding was apparently not enough exercise as he bench pressed 175 pounds daily and worked out regularly.  This is the same man who served in the Korean war and was one of the few men in his battalion who survived.  This is also the same man who was in a near fatal logging accident when he was 55 years old which forced him into early retirement and  told he would never walk again.  This is a man who was smaller in statue than this three sons but when he greeted them gave them bear hugs that lifted them off the ground.

A Hero as a Role Model

He raised three sons and a daughter and gave them the same code of ethics he had.  He was a man of great wisdom and knowledge and trained his children and 18 grand children to think for themselves and to be brave, kind, compassionate and hard-working.

Last month Thomas wanted to divide one of the fields into two pastures so he ordered over 100 fence posts and then contacted a fencing company to have them set up the posts.  They quoted him $4000 for the job and Thomas decided he would wait.  A few days later, Grandpa excitedly called Thomas to tell him that it took him a couple days to do by hand but the posts were all in place and ready.   Grandpa did it alone and it was done properly.  This was the 81 year old man whose name was not even mentioned in the newspaper.

Grandpa was involved in numerous volunteer organizations in the community and if you wanted something done, everyone knew who to call! 

Grandpa was an incredible husband who, by example, showed his sons and grandsons how to treat a lady.  When Grandma had her hip surgery and was bedridden on their wedding anniversary, Grandpa walked several miles to town to pick up Chinese food and a bouquet of roses for his precious wife.

There is no justice

Last Summer, Rochelle, Thomas, their new baby, 5 dogs and their cat visited Grandpa and Grandma, had dinner with them and then set out for the long trip home.  It was a 24 hour non-stop trip.  Arriving home exhausted and while they were unloading their car, the phone rang.

"Grandpa was riding his bike and only a few hundred yards from the gate of your property, when a speeding car hit him and wiped out his life.....instantly."

It was so hard for them to believe and it was as if the life was sucked out of them, especially when they were so very tired.  They quickly packed the car once again for the 24 hour trip back, along with all their pets.

A man who will never be forgotten
At his Celebration of Life, his four children and two of his grandchildren shared the Eulogy.  It was almost two hours long in a church that was not air conditioned (on a very hot day) and packed to capacity.  No one was bored and only wanted to hear more about this astounding man.  Our son-in-law, Thomas,  was one of the grandsons that told us about his role model, his grandpa.  He shared many of the life lessons Grandpa taught Thomas and throughout the service, there was a new appreciation for a man already loved and respected deeply.

There was not a dry eye there as each one was touched deeply by the memories of this great man, a real inspiration to us all. 

I had only met him once but by the end of the service, felt he had been a friend for life and my eyes fill with tears even writing this.  He had a strong faith in God and lived his life according to Biblical standards.  This causes me to love my son-in-law anew and am grateful beyond words that he chose my daughter to be his wife.

Our challenge for this blog post was to write a story of someone who inspired us in some way.  I thought this story was appropriate as I think of him often and only met him once.


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