I Wore My Grandpa's Tie Today

I really did.

The tag on the back says "Envoy", which to my knowledge no longer exists. It is a slanted stripe tie with 70s brown serving as the primary color, and stripes of other browns, khakis, white and a little red mixed in. When I look at it in my closet I know it is dated and it makes me happy, because I know why it is dated.

My college roommate lost his first grandparent last week, which is much different from my experience. My mom's dad (Brooks) died when I was a junior in high school, so I had plenty of memories with him by that time, but hadn't reached an age where I realized I needed to glean knowledge from him.

My dad's mom (Geraldine) died my sophomore year of college, after leaving a VERY strong imprint on my life. We lived with her for almost a year and lived down the road from her from 6th-12th grade. She was the type of woman who made things happen... especially for her family and probably bequeathed to me my ability to confront people. She had a powerful presence, but loving and the loss of her was very difficult for me.

The loss of my mom's mom (Juanita Ruth)was a devastating blow in my life. I think I blogged on this back in the day. Grandma Clouse was one of my favorite people in the world. I am not sure if this was just because of who she was, or also had something to do with the fact that I was literally one of the most important people in here life... and she reminded me of this every time I saw her or talked to her. She believed in me so much. She was one of the funniest people I have ever known and most of my friends who knew her share that sentiment. If I picked on her she would get in a wrestling match with me to defend herself well into my teens years. I could write a book about what she means to be still today, and her loss just before Halle's birth put me in a haze that was only broken by Halle's birth. I still think of her weekly, and the images I see of her reflected in the faces of Halle and Judah brings me to tears at times. I miss her and I miss being her favorite boy.

My college roommate's grandpa was a "pillar of the church" as they say and an incredible influence on many. My Grandpa Smith was the same... but I never knew it. The tie I wore today belonged to him, my dad's dad (Charles "Art"thur). He passed away just before we lost our first son Elijah. He was a man of God... even more than I knew. We went to church together and lived down the street from one another from the time I was 10. I saw him all the time. I talked to him all the time. I got rides from him all the time. I always took him for granted... not in the negative way where I would take advantage of him. I just lived in the assumption that he would ALWAYS be there. My father was such a strong believer that I never "needed" to ask spiritual questions to grandpa, so I didn't. I think I assume that because my dad was an ordained elder he knew more than grandpa. In the final year's of grandpa's life I began to see my misperception. Grandpa Smith had more knowledge about life and Jesus and how you combine those two things that I ever had known. I just didn't notice how strong his faith was, because he was so quiet about it, so humble. He was that consistent, gentle giant of the faith. When he died the new pastor of my church said to me, "Your grandpa was one of the greatest prayer warriors I knew. He was a pillar of our church." That outside perspective opened my eyes even wider as he explained to me the Christ-like, gentle, humble influence of my grandfather on that church. I returned to my grandpa's house after the funeral looking for something to remember him by. Something small that could remind me of who he was and who I want to be... I found his ties... and I wear them... and I remember that great man.

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