Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Man Worth Remembering

One of a kind. I have never met another man like him. Each of his children and grandchildren carries a little piece of Oscar Hill, some bigger than others, but Grandpa was unique. I can't seem to capture his remarkable life in just one memory.

I remember the way he told stories, mesmerizing us with his past adventures and tall tales, and how much sheer joy he found in the telling.

I remember the way Grandpa talked to and treated his neighbors, with the same dignity and respect whether they were rich or poor, black or white, young or old, stranger or friend. And, I remember the love and respect he received in return.

I will always cherish the front porch time. Grandpa in his chair with his pipe and I would sit on the floor leaning back against the cool brick post, just to be near him. I remember the world's best lemonade and listening to a story or a conversation or some memory that almost always taught me something I needed to know about life.

I remember his laughter, his earthy sense of humor, the sparkle in his eyes as he tilted his head to one side to deliver some bit of wit or whimsy.

I remember Grandpa's very definite opinions about life and love and faith and politics. No one doubted the strength of his bedrock beliefs, the unyielding tenacity that defined his life and guarded his values. He was stubborn about his views not because he had some huge ego to protect - he was a genuinely humble man - but because he believed in the truth of his convictions.

But what I remember best may be what defined Grandpa's life the most. I remember the way he prayed. Weary and worn out from work, sleeves rolled up, elbows on the table, his big forearms, and his head bowed against his folded hands with that stub finger. "Father, we thank thee . . ." His voice was always soft and low, like a real conversation, which of course, it was. No show. No pious ritual or empty routine. It was prayer, plain and simple, honest, heartfelt conversation with his Heavenly Father.

I knew even as a young boy that Grandpa and God must be well-acquainted, even close friends, and if God was anything at all like my Grandpa, then this whole world was in pretty good hands.