If you had known my Grandpa you might not would have been as fond of him as I was. He was, well, he could be quite abrasive to those who rubbed him the wrong way. Or perhaps it was to those he wanted to rub the wrong way. He didn’t pull punches, you always knew his honest and possibly offensive opinion. But, as for me, I adored him. He was a constant in my life. One of those always there people. A safe place. He potty trained me. He let me hold up giant bullfrogs after a night of frog gigging. He once asked me if I ever ran out of words. I answered proudly that I did not.
When he was diagnosed with cancer I was young newly married girl. I was devastated and heart-broken. It promised to be my first real experience with grief.
He was so sick. He began to mellow, starkly so. Others began to see what I already knew. Under that rough exterior was a tender heart. I can’t begin to express my joy of seeing his heart soften towards matters of faith. His body was not healed but, right before our eyes, his soul was made whole.
It was as if at the end of his life he could finally unwrap the grave clothes that had been wrapped in layers around his heart. I think sometimes that is what we do when we face pain and he had faced plenty.
A rough childhood during rough times. The death of his first child as an infant when the umbilical cord wrapped around her in the womb. Her name was Charlotte. His time in WWII changed him forever. I was able to get him to share bits and pieces. It was horrific and he refused to talk about it much. The death of his oldest son and namesake as a young adult added to the layers of grief and pain. A house burning down to the ground and starting over again in retirement years. He knew about pain.
But, there at the end of his days when physical pain was so intense, he seemed to be released from the emotional pain. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
As we would come and go from the different states we all lived in, to visit with him, he began to say the very same thing each time we would leave. “Y’all be good to each other.” Every time, every single time, he would say that.
After he was gone, Grandma took up the baton and she would say the same words. It became our family blessing. Our family banner. It was Grandpa’s Blessing. “Y’all be good to each other.”
Now, they are both gone from this earth and I feel confident that they are indeed being good to each other.
As my children are growing and being married and becoming engaged, I find myself wanting to say those same words. I want to say it to others as well. I want to remind folks of the brevity of life and the importance of relationships and the power of love. I want to warn those who will listen of the dangers of complacency and the risks of compromise and the cruelty of unkind words. I want to tell them, I want to tell you. “Be good to each other.”
Maybe we shouldn’t have to be reminded of something so seemingly obvious. But, I think we do. Too many times we are more focused on being right, proving our point and guarding ourselves against being taken advantage of that we forget. We forget that faith and family and friends are what matters. We forget to be good to each other just because we can.
Today, this weekend, I pray that we will all look for opportunities to be good to each other. Take my Grandpa’s blessing as your own if you’d like with my blessing. Remind yourself and remind others. “Be good to each other.”