90 Years

What does it mean to leave a legacy?

How do you go about building one?

Sometimes I think about questions like this, hoping that somehow my day to day living might add up to a legacy of worth that my children and grandchildren will appreciate years from now.

Ninety years ago my Grandpa Gill was born.  He remembers things that I never saw.

He remembers moving from Texas to California as a boy when the road was so narrow that cars had to pull off to the side so oncoming traffic could pass.

He remembers trying out for the football team without any cleats to wear.

He remembers his father abandoning his family.  He remembers poverty.  He remembers war.

He remembers my Mom as a little girl.

I am grateful beyond words for the gift of his life, for the privilege of having him still with us, for the blessing of having my children know him.  He lives in a beach house in Newport Beach California, just a few yards from the sand.  Each summer he opens his home to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren so they can come and visit.  It means the world to me that my children get to have the same summer vacation that I enjoyed as a little girl, in the same house, visiting the same beach, playing the same games, eating off the same dishes.  It is awesome.

I’ve been thinking about the legacy my Grandpa has built for us.

He’s given us the gift of the ocean.

He’s given me the gift of sunsets.  He pauses each day to walk out on the sand and watch the sun set.  I love that.  I’m learning to do it, too.  I can’t remember the last time I didn’t catch a glimpse of the sunset.

He’s given us a legacy of hard work.  He had nothing, but has worked hard all his life.  He has been a good steward, taking good care of everything he owns, making it last and keeping it functional.  He’s learned to live within his means.  He is, in a word, a classic example of many of the qualities his generation developed.  Born in 1920, he lived through the Great Depression as a boy.  Ninety years later, he still maintains his property meticulously.

He’s given us a legacy of service.  His service in the Navy during World War II was marked by bravery and a willingness to do his duty.  I love listening to his stories.  It’s fun to have a war hero for a Grandpa.

He is generous.  I love that about him.

He and I share a love of history.  We’ve read many of the same books and had some great discussions.  He calls me his Abigail Adams.

Two years ago I came home from Church when we were visiting him.  He had recently had surgery and wasn’t able to attend with us.  I went upstairs and shared with him some of the stories that were told.  I’ll always remember the tears trickling down his face as he listened.  They spoke volumes to me about his heart.

I could go on and on.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa. I wish I was with you in California today to celebrate.  You’re the best.

Love, Jennifer His favorite game is Aggravation and we love to play it with him when we’re in town.


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