Even though it was hot outside, my breath would cloud the glass, my nose pressed firmly to it. I would wait for hours at that window, willing the white sedan to pull into the driveway. As soon as it did, I would run a circle of joy through the house, elated that they were finally there. I would be waiting, barefoot on the hot concrete, even before he put the car into park. They would climb out, probably stiff from the long journey, bend over to me, and flood me with hugs and kisses. He smelled of his favorite cologne, his white hair was perfectly combed, and his plaid shirt perfectly matched his pants and suspenders. He was nary a wrinkle. His soft hands would grasp my shoulders, pull away from me, and comment at how much I had grown since our last time together.
During those treasured visits, he would show me his favorite quarter, worn smooth from its daily spot in his pocket. He would sit for hours as I incessantly talked about my life, his eyes twinkling in their own special way. When I would ruffle his hair, he would scoff, and politely take the comb out of his pocket and smooth it back into place. He and I would laugh – his beautiful, full laugh – about jokes, silliness, or nothing at all. I would tickle his neck, and he would giggle with his shoulders hunched, and then he would tickle me back. He found amazing beauty all around, even when no one else could see it. He would tell stories, and even though I had heard them before, they would be interesting once again. There were always new details, and looking back, I’m not sure if he had perfected the art of exaggeration or if he had mistakenly forgotten those pertinent details during the first 10 times telling them. He never offered opinions unless asked, never scolded me, and had the patience of a saint during my antics.
Throughout my own journey of youth and early adulthood, I never truly realized the gift that I had been given in my adopted Grandpa. You see, he was my Uncle Bud, but he was perfect as a grandpa – he fit into that grandfather shaped hole in my heart with the intricate fit that only God can design. He taught me faith, loyalty, serenity, and love, all without saying a word. He taught me modesty. He never boasted his successes, yet always taught me humble, gentle lessons he himself had learned from failures throughout his life. He taught me to laugh and live a joyous life. His smile came easily, and could lighten the darkest of moments. He taught me to give of myself to others with no reservation. He had made a decision long ago to serve people all around him, and he did it with a soldier’s fortitude. Long ago, he also made the decision to follow Christ with that same soldier’s heart. Even during the times in his life that may have caused him to stumble or doubt God’s plan he relied upon his loyalty and quiet faith to overcome.
When telling us his story, he wept at his own unworthiness of God’s love. I think, despite his worldly faults, he was the most worthy of God’s love. You see, it’s me that is unworthy; unworthy of Uncle Bud’s unfailing love and humility, and unworthy of the blessing that I received when he welcomed me into his arms as his adopted grandchild.