don't ask me why i'm choosing to share this story now. i'm really not quite sure what has impressed upon me to tell it but i am. a few months ago, my friend jeanne stevens asked me my top 3 transformational moments in my life. this is one of them. I told her then, and I will tell you now.
when I was probably in 8th grade, my grandaddy - my dad's dad - was diagnosed with alzheimer's. my grandparents were by no means professing christians. as little girls, my sister and i, being the good little evangelicals that we were, fervently tried to convert my granny - apparently grandaddy at that time was outside our realm of concern - but we were usually met with a polite "I know about God, honey, but thank you." my parents never encouraged or discouraged this behavior. i'm not sure where it came from, other than liz's penchant to worry combined with my need to tell people what was right.
anyway, we had genuinely close relationships with both my granny and grandaddy. granny was much more hands on while grandaddy preferred to sit back and observe or let us climb up in his lap 2 at a time. his only real involvement came on saturday mornings when he woud make his famous cat head biscuits and, in the process, cover the kitchen and himself in flour. but those biscuits were good. I can't imagne what went through that man's head - a man that raised 4 of the strongest men I know - when his house was overrun by all his granddaughters. i think he handled it pretty well.
well, it seems about the time i was old enough to really get to know and appreciate him - about the time I was really starting to fall in love with my mom's daddy - we started to lose him. for a man who was usually quiet, it wasn't extremely noticeable at first. he just didn't laugh as much anymore. when he stopped calling us by name, we really started to feel it. I remember one night, liz was worrying and asked if I thought he had missed his chance - she has more concern for the eternal soul than anyone I know. but I told her I didn't know. how were we to know that he didn't already know the Lord. after all, he was a quiet man and it's not like he would take such things up with granny.
one day, a few years later, we came home from school and dad was there. he said he needed to tell us something. usually when phrased like that , you think it's going to be bad. we sat down in the stairwell and daddy stood in the foyer and told us that the previous sunday grandaddy had gone to church with my aunt and uncle who lived out by them. you know, just one of those courtesy things to get them out of the house and take em to lunch after...break the monotony. but afterwards, grandaddy had told my uncle he liked what that man was talking about and asked if he could talk with him some more. so my uncle decides to set up a meeting with his pastor for that week, not really sure what to make of it.
they go to the meeting and for a few precious moments, according to my uncle, my grandfather came alive again. it was as if someone had turned a light on in his mind and he carried on a two-sided conversation about the message from Sunday and all that stuff about salvation. it ended with my grandaddy saying he realized he needed Jesus and he reckoned that was the right time to accept him.
my sister and I cried on the steps as my dad - my grandaddy's oldest son - stood there proud. either of his father or that that his two teenage daughters would care, or maybe both. now I know some people are skeptical of such stories. all I know is that I know my uncle. my father and all my uncles take after my grandaddy in a number of ways, not the least of which is that they are men of few words. if they don't feel the need to talk, they won't. and they won't tell you a story unless it is the God's honest truth. it is amazing the way the Lord moves and if it took my grandaddy losing his mind to find life, then i'll take it.