I’m convinced heaven is a fishing boat. Or at least it is now—since Grandpa Elmer showed up.
Okay, he’s not technically my grandpa. He’s my husband’s grandpa. But since the day I met him fourteen years ago, he took me in as his own, and I loved him like a good granddaughter would.
So last week, when Jesus called Elmer home, I joined my husband’s family—my family—in the kind of grief and goodbyes that a beloved patriarch deserves.
But it wasn’t all sadness.
We celebrated, too.
Because Elmer lived a full life—an abundant life. Not by making and spending loads of money, traveling the world, or catching more walleyes than anybody else on Lake Winnebago (although that part might be true). Elmer lived well because he loved well.
And love matters most.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” (John 13:34–35).
How do you measure a life well lived? By loving a wife for 60 years and teaching five daughters how to fish. By rowing a teenage grandson to the middle of the lake and lecturing him to say no to drugs. By parking a lawn chair at hundreds of high school and college baseball games no matter the weather or the score. By sitting in a duck blind at sunrise, still building memories with the grandson who’s now raising two little girls of his own—the ones who beg to bike to Great-Grandpa’s house with a fresh plate of cookies because they know he likes sweets and he’s sweet on them, too.
We all loved Elmer. But the best part? He loved us back. He loved us first. He knew what it meant to hold a family together, and he taught us by example to do the same.
When the funeral service ended, I stood shoulder to shoulder with my sisters-in-law, watching eight strong grandsons dressed in dark suits usher their grandfather’s casket out of the church. And it occurred to me. This family is one man’s legacy. Now we get the privilege of seeing it through until that great someday when we, too, reach heaven.
And when we get there, I’ll bet we’ll see a fishing boat. Grandpa Elmer will smile and hand us a rod, and we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about down here on Earth.
If you love one another. Maybe it really is just that simple.
Happy fishing, Grandpa. May the waves be smooth and comforting, and may every worm snag a big one.
* Photo by the lovely and talented Carol Grandlienard.
Gisela Dieter says
The blessing of good memories. I pray the Lord continues to show you a special awareness of His presence and peace as you mourn your loss. That is the truth…the measure of a good, Godly life is how well we loved, and the only way we can love well, is because He loved us first.
Amen, Gisela. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!
We did the same thing last week. Except for me it was a mother-in-law, and a legacy of cooking. There’s nothing new under heaven, is there.
I’m sad for your loss, Dawn. And yet we can celebrate the life well lived, right? That’s what I’m focusing on this week. Blessings to you and your family.
Nancy Sturm says
This is such a wonderfully sweet tribute to Grandpa Elmer. It sound like he used the bait of love when he fished “for men.” Thank you for such a lovely post.
Thank you for reading, Nancy. Grandpa was one of a kind. 🙂
Happy fishing, Grandpa. Such a sweet tribute, Becky. Hugs to you and yours.
Maureen@Scoops of Joy says
Oh bless your Grandpa and his loving family. This post brought tears of joy to me because I can feel the love, the beautiful kind soul your Grandpa was and how Heaven must have cheered to welcome him home. Thank you for sharing his legacy here.
He sounds like he was a great man!
What a beautiful tribute to your grandpa Elmer, Becky. I never had a grandfather to develop that kind of relationship with. They all died before I was born and my husband’s grandfathers died as well by the time we married. But I did grow close to my husband’s grandmother. She was the sweetest southern lady who quilted and canned and loved like crazy! She died about five years ago and I still miss her. It’s a bittersweet time when they go–to know they are resting in God’s arms and yet we ache to hold them in ours. My prayers are with you and your family at this time, my lovely friend!
christa sterken says
What a lovely tribute
Oh, friend, I’m sad and happy as I read your beautiful words. Isn’t it amazing how a funeral whittles life down to it’s simplest essence? I hope that in the end, I’m remembered for LOVE like your sweet grandpa. I bet he’s swapping a lot of fishing tales with Peter in Heaven right now. Do you suppose he’s getting every detail on that day that Peter caught a fish with a few coins in its mouth? 🙂 And Grandpa Elmer will probably have a story to match that one! Praying comfort over you and your family as you live in the reality of “good-bye see you soon” .
I love this. It makes me think of my sweet grandpa. Thank you for this post.