I knew when I came in from running on the treadmill that something was wrong. My sister called three times in a matter of a few minutes, which is not something she normally does. I called Katie back and learned that our grandfather, Big Daddy, had passed away early that morning. He had been in declining health for some time, and he had recently developed double pneumonia. Still, the news was a shock and I didn't even know what to say.
After a whirlwind of planning for the services, we gathered in Farmersville to say good-bye to Big Daddy. A lot of family and friends came to the viewing and funeral, which meant a lot to the family. In honor of the Bigs, we all stayed at the farm together. Katie, Joe and Ella had flown in from Washington, D.C., my parents flew back from Europe, and our crew drove in from Fort Worth. After the services were over and the dust settled, we got to spend some time hanging out on the farm together. Uncle Clay burned one of the tree piles in the pasture, and we just stood around and enjoyed being with each other. The boys got to ride the tractor and bull dozer with Uncle Clay, Joe and I shot skeet, and we hiked around exploring the land. You can see pictures of our day at the farm in our photo album.
When I think about Big Daddy, I think about how much he enjoyed the simple things in life. I think about him telling me "This is good, with 100 O's between the G and D." I remember his smile and how he was always happy to see us when we walked in for a visit. He would spend hours with us out in the shop. One summer, I got the idea that I wanted to refurbish a box for my dad to keep his gun supplies in, and Big Daddy helped me with every detail of the project. The next summer, I decided I wanted to make a bread box. Rather than slapping together pieces of wood, Big Daddy taught me how to measure out the parts and create patterns. We carefully put together each piece of the bread box, and he let me do most of the work. He didn't overlook any aspect of the project, and I will never forget seeing the bread box when it was finally finished. It was something I could really be proud of. In fact, we still have it at our cabin in Wyoming.
Big Daddy was someone I was really proud of. He was a veteran of World War II. He survived a major burn when he was in his 80's. He was not ashamed to show how much he loved Big Mama, and they were a model couple in their community. He never had anything bad to say about people, and he loved to sing. I can remember him walking outside first thing in the morning and singing, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" with all his might. He loved the Lord and never wavered in his faith. We all miss Big Daddy very much, and I am comforted by knowing he is with Jesus and Big Mama. More than anything, I'm grateful to have known him and love him as my grandfather.