There was an empty seat at our Christmas dinner table that year. Grandpa passed away on August 17, 2008, leaving a huge vacuum in our tight-knit family. Grandpa was not just any “grandpa” to me. He was the Best Man in my wedding, my roommate for 14 years as I grew up, and my mentor & friend who taught me that there has never been a better golfer than Tiger Woods.
Eight of us sat around the Christmas tree, remembering that the year before it was nine of us. Mom and Dad had special gifts for us three pairs of “kids-and-spouses” to open at the same time. Mom was sure to mention that these must be opened last. We all held the gifts and curiously opened them together once all the other ones had been unwrapped. Then we froze as each of us, along with our loved ones, began to cry. Inside the beautiful wrapping was a quilt with a note that said in part, “This quilt, made of Grandpa’s shirts, pajamas, bathrobe and jeans, was made with our love and tears for all of you to treasure and remember. ~Mom & Dad”
I am looking at the quilt right now. It is like looking at different parts of Grandpa’s life. I can remember different experiences and memories with him in each square. The brown and yellow plaid shirt is the one that I left at his house one time. He liked it, so he adopted it as his own. The bathrobe reminds me of his last Father’s Day, sitting in Grandpa’s room watching Tiger dominate the U.S. Open with an injured leg and listening to Gramps joke and laugh with me, my dad and my son. The gray wool shirt is the one he would often wear to church to dress up. Grandpa loved God and everyone knew it. The jeans are tired and worn out. He mowed, painted, nailed and built. Grandpa was a hard worker all of his life.
Grandpa’s quilt represents a life well-lived by a Godly man. Each fabric is woven with years of experience and Godly wisdom that my family and I can model. When I grow old, I wonder what my quilt will look like. The decisions I make today is the yarn that knits those squares. If I am to pass on a meaningful legacy and heritage to my children, my choices happen now. I just pray that my quilt is as rich, full and inspiring as Grandpa’s.