My grandpa loved football. He spent most weekends with his eyes focused on the television, cheering for whatever team was winning at the moment. He would do his famous sit/lie sideways on his couch and watch the game with a muted television, but complete with closed captioning. We were told many times that his heart couldn’t handle the stress of the game with the sound on, so he watched without sound. That’s not to say he watched in silence…no, no. My grandpa was the world’s greatest both sports announcer and sports psychologist of all time. He would call the game by not only what was happening on the field, but would also regale you with the “Behind the scenes” information including each player and coach’s thoughts and feelings and what motivated each individual play. He had a backstory to each “off-sides” call and knew how the coaches felt during pass interference.
My grandpa loved playing cards and when I was little, he took a special liking to playing with me. He would sit at the table with me when I was 6 or 7 and taught me to play poker. He would tell me stories of inventing weather balloons, or purchasing a house for his mother with gambling money, of working for the oil company, and of meeting my sweet grandmother. While we sat at the table, my grandpa taught me about him. What he didn’t teach me, was how to actually play poker. He would “bend the rules”, insist that drawing a pair off the pile required a forfeit because “It’s just not right”, always having the opportunity to look at the card on the bottom of the pile so “you weren’t waiting for it” and insisting that if you had 3 of a kind you had to show the other person your hand before you would bet.
I didn’t much care to fact check his poker rules (which would later get me in trouble) because I got to sit and talk with my grandpa. For a few moments, I was all his. Those days, I learned without a doubt, that he had an appreciation for smart and funny people. He took great joy in raising 6 smart funny children, who went on to raise many more. As I stand here today, I look around and see so many people who have been given a gift. We have been so blessed by the wit, the charm, the drive, the passion, and the love for Jesus that my grandpa had.
I wonder today as he is looking down on this moment from heaven, if when he saw me stand up to speak, if he reached for the remote to watch this like a football game and tried to mute it. Grandpa, whether you’re reading this by heaven’s closed captioning or you are listening with your new strong body, know that you did well. You shared the love of God with all of us and our lives will never be the same.