Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Memories - Grandpa Howard

Okay, for a few weeks now I’ve really been wanting to write something about my Grandpa. Grandpa Howard, that is, who was Mom’s dad. I think he’s been on my mind because his birthday was December 11, close to my own. I never got around to it because there’s just been too many other things to write about lately. Then, right before Thanksgiving, Uncle Butch brought the wind-chime. I mentioned that briefly in an earlier post, but really wanted to tell more about it. The two things are closely related, though, so I can cover both with one blog. I kind of think Grandpa would have appreciated the efficiency in that. Read on!

The first thing that always comes to mind when I think of Grandpa, is the bucket. He had this plastic, bluish-green bucket, nothing special. The bucket had split all the way down one side and about halfway across the bottom. Instead of just throwing it away, he actually stitched it back together. Yes, I said stitched. He punched holes all the way along both sides of the split, then used little pieces of wire to fasten the two halves together. I can't imagine how much time he must have spent on that bucket, and I don't know what he used the bucket for after that. Obviously it wouldn’t hold water anymore. I’m sure he found a use for it though. All that work for a bucket that probably cost less than a dollar. That's the kind of guy he was.

Which brings me to the wind-chime. Grandpa Howard made the wind-chime himself. And he made it out of junk, hahaha. Seriously, though, he started with the metal rim of a paint can to suspend the chimes from. I can't remember what the clapper part was made from, but the wind-catcher part was just a flat piece of tin suspended from a rusty bit of chain. The chimes themselves were made from old shock-absorbers. He cut them to different lengths to give them different tones. The whole thing is held together by pieces of baling wire. An the coolest part is, that it really has a nice sound to it. Who would have guessed that old shock-absorbers could sound so nice. Anyway, I remember the chime hanging on the back of Grandma and Grandpa's house when I was very young, so that's what makes it so special to me. And the way he took all that junk and put it together into something that sounds so beautiful speaks volumes about the man.

Let me see, what else? Mom told me about his coveralls one time. He would wear these coveralls when he was working in his shop or around the yard. Mom told me that when they got a hole, he would patch them up. He would patch them and patch them, until they were nothing but patches. When he finally got a new pair, he would save the old ones to make patches out of. Wow, if only more people were like that. So many things in our lives have become disposable.

Are you starting to get a feel for what kind of man he was? God wants us to be goodand faithful stewards with the things He gives us, and Grandpa Howard is one of the best examples of this I have ever encountered. And he didn't do it because he was cheap or stingy, he did it because it was the right thing to do.

Grandpa Howard died in June of 1982, when I was only 11, making him the first of my four grandparents to pass. I was at church camp when it happened. Mom sent both of my brothers along with a family friend to BRING ME HOME. I remember my counselor walking me up to the dining hall at Camp Merrill, telling me that I had some visitors. That was odd because you didn't typically get visitors at camp, and when we got there I was pleased to see my brothers. I looked to Kevin right away and said "What are you doing here?" But it was Brad, the oldest, who took me aside. He leaned over with hands on knees and said, “Grandpa died last night; Grandpa Howard, and we're here to take you home.” As soon as he said the word “Grandpa”, I was thinking Grandpa Pete, (who was actually great Grandpa Pete, and quite old), but Brad clarified right away leaving me pretty stunned. I had always believed Grandpa Howard to be in very good shape for an old person, and he would have been my last guess. Anyway, I gathered up my things and we left. Mom knew what she was doing. She sent Brad to be the one to break the news, and she sent Kevin because she knew he could make me laugh. Which he did, all the way home. It was kind of a long drive. She also sent family friend, Dan, who was a pretty fun guy. I remember stopping for lunch at Pizza Hut on the way home.

When we finally arrived at Grandma’s house, Grandma said “Oh Steven, come here.” I went and sat on her lap, the only time I ever remember doing that in my whole life. I remember being afraid that I might hurt her because I was too heavy. My cousin Christopher, just a baby of 6 months, was crying and I remember Grandma saying, “I think babies can sense when something is wrong.”

And Christopher is the last part of the story. Of course, I didn’t know at the time, but have learned since how important it was to Grandpa for the Howard name to be carried on. Grandpa had two sons. One has never married to this day, the other married but waited until much later in life than usual to have children. My mother had four kids, but of course our names were not Howard. Anyway, little Christopher was finally born in January of 1982. Just six months before Grandpa died. I truly believe that was Grandpa’s reward for being such a good and faithful steward. He got to stay on earth just long enough to know his grandson a little bit.

What a shining example of how rich and full our lives can be, if we only put God first. I really didn’t know Grandpa Howard very long, and I was too young to appreciate the man he was, but he sure made an impact on my life. I wish I could have known him better, but I’m thankful for the time I had with him.

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.


  1. I love this story from your past! Mom will love it too. Nicely Done!

  2. He sure was a wonderful man. Too bad God took him before we were able to appreciate him fully! Thank God for memories!