Friday, May 13, 2011

remembering an old friend

The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
-William Blake-

Someone said "It takes a long time to grow an old friend." But he was a Christmas tree farmer - and he was really good at growing things.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, 
And in His law he meditates day and night.   
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, 
Which yields its fruit in its season 
And its leaf does not wither; 
And in whatever he does, he prospers. 

Psalm 1:2-3

We are friendly with a lot of people but we have few good friends - let alone old friends. But he was both. He wasn't an old friend in the sense that we knew him for a long time - and certainly not for long enough as far as we're concerned.  He was an old friend in the sense that at 78yrs, he was quite a bit older than us.

My husband admired him. Looked up to him. Talked to him - a lot. He was a common sense kinda guy.  Smart. Wise. Real. Down to earth. Unpretentious. He loved God and lived out his faith.  Whatever his hand found to do, he did it as unto the LORD. He was good at doing good. He looked for ways to bless others and so often we were the beneficiaries of his kind heart.

He almost always sat in the back row at the center aisle in church on Sundays.  I say "almost always" because one time he scooted over and made room for us to sit with him :)

I enjoyed hearing him sing.

Our girls affectionately called him GG.

His Christmas tree farm is a beautiful corner of creation.  Strike caught her first fish on his pond.

He once gave us a tour of the farm. My husband rode up front with him, and Strike and I rode back in the bed of the truck. He pointed out the different types of trees and explained the work and time involved in growing them. We walked together among the trees for awhile.  Who knew so much work was involved in growing Christmas trees?!  But he was a hard worker and enjoyed being outdoors. I gather he only worked indoors two weeks out of his entire life and couldn't stand it. 

When my husband and I were visiting with him once, we were looking out his living room window and talking about nature in general. He mentioned something about how he thought there was much more out there than we even know about. I think he realized, more than most, that indeed the whole earth is full of God's glory & I imagine that's why he enjoyed being outdoors so much.

We bought firewood from him and I'm pretty sure he gave us an extra generous load.

Every year he had a bountiful garden. During harvest time he'd deliver bags of fresh picked veggies to us - or he'd pull his truck up in our driveway, open the back hatch - and I'd have a farmers' market at my fingertips! Peppers. Tomatoes. Cucumbers. Squash! I was free to take what I wanted - and then he'd give me more! And pumpkins too! He would leave piles of fresh veggies in the church foyer just for the taking.

He was going to let us use a patch of his land for a garden this summer. He'd seen my rather pathetic attempt at container gardening last year and he knew I was excited about it.  Easter morning he handed me seed catalogues that he thought I might like to peruse.

He was a handyman - a fixer. 

He brought a fresh baked loaf of delicious homemade bread to us one time that he had made himself.  I was so touched by that - & impressed too. I guess I figured if he could do it, so could I!  He shared his recipe with me and I've been baking bread ever since!  I once baked a loaf of fresh bread for him. I wanted to surprise him - and I guess I did. When I went to deliver it, no one answered the door so I thought no one was home - but as I was leaving he came out in his bathrobe. I was so embarrassed. Wished I had called ahead as he always did before coming over.

One time I mentioned about what fun I thought it would be to snowplow empty parking lots - and low and behold,  not long after that - after a "perfect storm," he called and invited me over to the farm to give it a try!  I was homeschooling Strike then so she came along too. I didn't know him all that well at the time and he had a very nice truck & I was SO worried that I was going to damage it. And little did I know that snow-plowing is much like driving a helicopter!! It takes a great deal of coordination that apparently I don't have. With him riding shotgun, my little girl in the back seat & old time gospel music playin' on the radio - off we went! I was nervous - but he was patient. We had fun & with his coaching I managed to do alright -- or at least he let me think I did. Strike wasn't feeling too well in the back seat tho' - from all the turning, backing up, pulling forward, etc.  In the end, I think I was as relieved that she didn't throw-up in his nice truck as I was about keeping it out of the pond! :)

Whenever he'd join us for dinner he always arrived with a special treat to share....a box of fancy chocolates - or perhaps something he baked himself - and most recently he showed up with a beautiful fruit bouquet that was a big hit with the kids we had over that evening  too. That night the adults were visiting at one table & the kids were havin' a ball playing games at the other. He'd look over at them and smile ... I think he would have rather sat with them! ;)

He was only a phone call away.  Recently, when my husband & I went on a trip, just knowing the girls could call him if they needed anything put our mind at ease. While we we were away, he took them out to dinner and to the youth group they attend at another church. They had fun with him. Enjoyed his stories about the way things used to be.  When he found out that they were low on dog food he called to let them know he "accidentally" picked some up at the store.

He was the first person my husband called to ask for advice recently when our water heater broke. After they hung up he called right back and offered to let us use his truck and he met my husband at Home Depot. When we showed up at church the next/Easter morning for breakfast he figured our water heater must be back in order .... because we all smelled pretty good ;)

He loved deep sea fishing and he gave us lots of wonderful fish he and his son caught.  In turn we had him over a time or two for a fish fry.  We were looking forward to a deep sea fishing trip with him ourselves this summer. Something we've never done.

He walked with a bit of limp but he didn't let that keep him from playing wiffle ball with us at a church picnic.  He was young at heart. Makes me smile just thinking' about it.

He enjoyed Strike's softball games and she loved havin' him in the stands. I was going to invite him to a recent home game but I kept putting off calling him until it was too late.  I just figured there would be more...

Recently I sent him a note telling him what a blessing his friendship was to us - but I told him I used that term loosely because he was feeling more like family all the time. So often I'm left feeling like I wish I said or did something differently - but in this case...I'm so glad I took the time to send that note.

I'm rambling, I know. But I guess this is my way of attempting to collect memories we shared and to keep them all together in one place - because that's all we have of our old friend now that he's in heaven. The news came as such a shock and processing it has been - well - quite a process.  We are gonna miss him so much.  He was a good friend and the best way I can think of to honor him and his memory is ... well... to go and do likewise. So - I guess I'll sign off here ... and go and look for something good to do.


mommazim said...

Although it is sad that you won't be sharing any new memories with this fine man, it is awesome that you have so many that you shared. Reading this, crying, made me think of my Grandpa-such a man of God, but never one to judge, always one to give. And he LOVED the Lord.
Celebrate his 78+ yrs, what a wonderful, wonderful man he must of been.

MyStory of HiStory said...

Hi Marc. You are so sweet. And so right! I made you cry - but you made me smile :) And, for the record, you're on the short list of old/good friends too :)

Mug said...

Beautiful tribute, myStory.....You have such a way with words:) I find myself missing this wonderful man....your words have made me feel as if I knew him, too!
Sounds as if you and yours were as special to him as he was to you.

MyStory of HiStory said...

Thanks, Mug :) You have a special spot, for good reason, on a different short list...that being the short list of Dear Friends I've Never Met! :) Hugs.

troutbirder said...

Beautiful. I would like to have met him. My kind of person. Many years ago as a young teacher I have a similar friend and mentor. He was perhaps thirty years older than me and died way to young. Now fortunately I'm married to my best friend. :)

GlassMelts said...

I'm so sorry to hear the news. I remember you introducing me to him when I visited and I think you pointed out his tree farm on one of our trips out and about. I know how very special he was to you all. Hugs.

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

How lucky your family is to have had this wonderful person in your lives. I'm sure you brought as much happiness to him as he did to all of you. You are exactly right - the best way to honor him is to live the way he did, doing good for others.