"I dream in black and white," he said. We were on the back porch of the beach house after dinner, telling stories as we rocked in our plastic chairs. Granddad said that he thought he dreamed in black and white instead of color because that's how the television was when it first came out. He was part of the Great Generation - the generation that grew up in the Depression, fought the Nazi's, and if they made it home, married the love of their lives, raised a family, and worked hard for a living.
Whenever we got a chance to hear Granddad tell his stories, we always listened. It was a gift, to sit beside a man that had experienced so much in one lifetime. On the eve of his funeral we shook hands, embraced hugs, and swapped stories about him with the people that he had impacted with his life. His lifelong friend came and showed us the pocketknife Granddad had given him for a grooms gift. It hadn't left his pocket in over sixty years. Young guys, that sat with him at Rotary Club, told us how much they respected his entrepreneurship spirit. Neighbors, church members, and extended family shared stories that were rich in detail and warm in character.
We swapped stories with him for the final time right before the twins turned three. He had taken a hard fall the night before our visit, so we brought him chocolate cake leftover from their birthday party. We hoped that wouldn't be our last conversation but we knew it might. He was 90 and his life had been full. He was ready to go home to the Lord and be with his bride, Kennette. She had already lost her battle with breast cancer but there is this picture of her and Granddad walking together on the beach that I look at whenever Raleigh talks about his grandparents. They look so happy and in love.
On the day of Granddad's funeral, his daughter and sons gathered with their families to bid him farewell. It was rainy and cold for spring, yet felt just right on this day of goodbye. Looking around, it was clear that Granddad and Me Mommy had left a legacy. A family that has grown up hearing stories about what greatness is really about: character-building, love, hard work, and faithfulness.
It was a gentle reminder to us that this life is short, yet full of promise if we believe in these things. Instead of dreaming in color too bright and overloaded with the pace of our society, why not slow down and dream in black and white? The Great Generation has taught our generation the true meaning of perseverance, how to live a life of legacy and purpose. People like Granddad give our generation hope.
With hope, we seek life abundant, not abundant living. A friend told me recently that God desires for us to live the deep, long life and not the short, shallow life. As I experience life, I'm beginning to realize that hardship has to happen to go deep and long. Without suffering, life is frivolous and naive. Life can hurt us but if we choose to go long instead of stay in the shallow, that hurt teaches us hope; greatness in living.
It was hard saying goodbye to Granddad yet everyone agreed he had lived the deep, long life. I smile, remembering that night on the porch at the beach and can't help but wonder if he and Kennette are linked hand in hand, walking on another beach, so happy and in love.
Till next time, let your light shine!