I never really knew my Grandpa Davis - in fact, I think I spoke to him a total of two times. Do not think me a callous grandchild, dear reader. You must remember that he was my grandfather by marriage - that is, I "inherited" him through my husband. I was very excited about this - I had (and still have) only one remaining blood grandparent, my dear Gramma (my mother's mother), and so to gain not only a husband and another set of parents, but two full sets of grandparents was certainly a deal and a half!
I met Grandpa Davis early in our marriage (i.e. right after we were married) and I was still the new awkward member of the family. I wasn't sure of the family culture and how things worked, so I was silent and watched. I think it was a Thanksgiving, and Grandma Davis had (as usual) thrown down the cooking gauntlet. There were greens and macaroni and cheese and turkey and sweet potatoes and Lord knows what else to eat. Which I did. I never met a food I didn't like, except maybe shrimp, but that's only because I'm allergic. All of the Davis family was there - at least, all that I can remember. It was a crash course in the Davis family tree, and I still don't have it straight. But I do recall real open hospitality, and urges to eat and eat some more. I have no specific memories of Grandpa from that day, save his presence in the house, but he was now a part of my new and exciting family.
There were other times we stopped in to visit, but only few. We were in college far away from Chicago, and rarely got up to the city to say hello. And then Grandma and Grandpa Davis moved with Uncle Carl to Florida, and we never saw them, save when Grandma came up to visit her friends. We heard about them third-hand, from stories passed on by my parents-in-law, who were secretly worried about their health and the distance between them.
So my memories of Grandpa are few, and seem faded like an old photo. I recall bright, twinkling eyes shining from a well-worn face. He seemed to have a constant smile, as though he was secretly keeping a running joke. From the stories I hear, he was!
But the best way to know a soul is to see the fruit of his labors. Both Grandpa and Grandma Davis worked hard to raise three bright and brilliant boys. I know a little of Uncle Carl, and a little more about Uncle Vincent, since we went over for barbecues when he lived in the suburbs, but I know my father-in-law George best.
George, who is the namesake of his father. Who is serious and lighthearted, spiritually-minded and loving, who has journeyed through his own life and met his own challenges, but who is still his father's eldest son. He has worried and worked like only a son can do, and held his concerns close to his heart, sharing them with only a few. I admire him greatly - his tireless work ethic, his love for his family, his commitment to justice. He is at times stoic and seems to be full of lofty ideas, at other times open and easily approachable. I know that his father is there, and I respect Grandpa even more for the gifts he gave to his son. Those gifts were also given to my husband, distilled through trials and bestowed upon the next generation to ease the passage through life.
And now we are honoring the passage from life to the Eternal Realm, the Abhá Kingdom. We are left with the earthly remains, while to soul wings onward. We rally as a family to support those nearest to the grief, and we are brought closer together in the midst of separation.
Journey well, Grandpa Davis. And we'll see you joyful on the other side!