Last weekend, I attended the funeral of a long-time dear friend and brother, John Nicholas. He’s my sister, Sami’s father-in-law. Our family could not love his son Blake more if he had been born into our family in the first place. But then he wouldn’t have had the great influence of that father to whom we said goodbye last Saturday. This week, I want to run a couple of tributes to John Nicholas. The first is Sami’s response to the call for family members to jot down favorite memories. It’s just her informal recollections of a life lived unselfishly. I think it’s encouraging and worth your read….
It’s impossible for me to come up with a favorite memory of Paw-paw. There are so many special times, because he wanted to be in the lives of his children and grandchildren. So here are a few (well, maybe not a few) rambling observations. When I married Blake, I didn’t become a daughter-in-law. I was one of the children. That was always special to me. I will always remember family singing times and how he would slide up and down the scale to pitch his songs. My children thought this was hilarious, but he got the pitch right, and we would spend hours in sweet praise together. I remember conversations when we were visiting about the latest person with whom he was studying the Bible He loved souls. I remember that dinnertime conversation was often about something he had been studying in the Bible and he was as excited about it as a child with a new toy. I remember again and again Blake slipping into bed at 3:00 or 4:00 because he and Paw-paw had been sitting up talking about some Bible passage. He loved God’s Word, and he took the responsibility of following it seriously. I’m thankful that Blake grew up seeing that respect for God’s way. I remember how a visit to Paw-paw and Maw-maw somehow made you feel secure and at ease. Some of my other friends had to worry about what their in-laws might do or say in front of their children. Not me. It was a haven where God lived. But when I look back purely from a pleasurable standpoint, I suppose that some of my favorite memories are of his and Maw-maw’s visits to our houses through the years. It was the living image of love. Blake and I got married. We were too poor to rent a moving van, so along came the old red and white van with the trailer with high sides and a tarp top to Henderson. Maw-maw and Paw-Paw had helped box and load everything. This happened again when Blake finished school and again when we decided to be stateside missionaries in the Carolinas. The latter required two moves because the congregation that supported us had us move there for a few months before we went to the Carolinas. Blake and I moved into an old fixer-upper Victorian house and so here came the paint cans, bathtub surround kits, and liquid nails. When Paw-paw and Maw-maw weren’t working on the house, they were playing with Abel or walking him to the park, so we could work on the house. We didn’t entertain them at all. They didn’t like to be entertained, and yet we had some of the happiest times. Five years later, when we moved to a different site, they were there again helping to box, babysit, and finish the last painting on the house. Again, we had two moves. Randy and Elise came, too. I can remember Abel and Reuben having their birthdays in the midst of some of the work on this house. If only Maw-maw had been the piñata, blindfolded Reuben would have hit the candy jackpot. I have a video! One month after this last move, Song was due. Again they came to see us. I could tell Paw-paw didn’t like this place as well. It wasn’t a fixer-upper, so he just helped take care of Abel while we went to the hospital. They made sure Abel got to both worship services on Sunday while Song was being born, He and Abel walked up and down the streets and hunted sticks and made faces at the new baby. Then 18 months later, Paw-paw was happier when we bought a real fixer-upper. Vinyl was scraped off of floors, there was another new tub, and a new attic stairway. He could do anything. We would pile around the kitchen table when we couldn’t move another muscle, and he would make faces with the food on the plates for Abel and Song. Sometimes there was a competition to see who could make the funniest faces with their food. He had an off-the-wall wit about him and any serious comment might end with everyone crying laughter tears. He especially joked with the grandkids. Job came early. By this time, Paw-paw was not quite as able to work, but they came to share in the joy and help take care of the things that didn’t get done because Job was early. But still Paw-paw looked over our storage/once barber shop and explained how Blake could make it bigger and better. He was all about helping his children. He liked numbers. Only he would notice that a parent’s age was now their two children’s ages multiplied together. Then we would have to take a picture with each person holding the card for their ages with the multiplication and equal signs. I caught myself calculating ages just the other day. Blake is two times Abel’s age. We’ll have to take a picture. Well, now instead of him coming to our new home, we’ll have to go to his. His life showed us the path. It won’t be a fixer-upper and there will be no more counting ages, but I’m sure he’ll be waiting with open arms to help those of us who follow his path to get settled in.