Last weekend, Lacey and I spent some time in Wichita with my side of the family to celebrate Grandpa Dodd, who was ushered into the presence of Jesus with his only two sons at his side on July 23.
Getting to Wichita on Thursday (8/5) was a long travel day, but even when I got to the house we were staying at incredibly exhausted, the night was far from over. Up to that point, I had only jotted down a few notes here and there about what I would say at the service, but I had to type it out to ensure completion. I lost it at my grandma’s funeral, and I figured the same would happen if I wasn’t prepared.
I hadn’t cried about Grandpa’s death yet, but typing out what I was going to say made me pretty teary eyed.
The funeral was fantastic. So many people came out and you can tell how loving he was and how loved he was by the range of people that were there. He truly lived a long and great life.
I thought I would share with you all what I said (and struggled through) that day because he was a huge part of who I am. I wish you all could have known him, and to those of you who did, you know how lucky you are.
There has never been a man like Herbert Dodd. I am fortunate to be the oldest grandchild of the bunch and can only hope that all of us continue the legacy of love that he left.
It is always astounding to me to know I have the best dad in the world and hear him say “if I am half of the dad that my dad was, I will be a great success.” As far as I am concerned, I feel the exact same way, so I guess that means if I am a quarter (!!) of the father that Grandpa was, I’ll be pretty incredible myself.
Because growing up, you don’t always get to appreciate the character of your grandparents. You appreciate the ice cream cones, the 2-dollar bills (as well as any other bills that may come with them) and the days you get to go shopping for anything you could ask for. It’s not until you get older and you hear stories from their friends and other people about them that you realize the treasure that is your life. The mere fact that you are related to these people (in my case, Herb and Alice) means that you are incredibly and immensely blessed. And man, did he have character.
I am glad that this realization hit me when it did. One of my favorite ways to spend holidays and days off in college while at Baylor University was to drive from Waco to Wichita and be with Grandma & Grandpa. The 7 hour and 15 minute drive with my best friend in the world was always a highlight in itself, but pulling in late to some kind of incredible meat and potato-based meal and sleeping in the cozy basement they had prepared for me was so inviting and warm.
The times I spent with Grandpa, especially during my senior year after Grandma had passed away, were some of my favorites. They were always inspirational conversations about life and I loved getting to ask him questions about when he had been the most scared in his life, why he chose to be a lawyer and why he loved any kind of cheese snack so much. Every answer was so carefully thought out and even though it was just he and I in those chairs in the den and I was the only other person in the room, his concentration on me was so intense that I felt like I was the only other person in the state of Kansas. I knew that he was only thinking about me and what we were talking about right then and there.
Not only was my time with him always a good tune up for the heart, but he would literally insist a tune-up on my car. He was such a joyful giver that his smile when you caught his eye was priceless and generous in itself. And this is from the man whose generosity shaped my life. Without Grandpa there would be no Kanakuk (where I met my wife and have formed so many important Christ-centered relationships) and there would be no Baylor (where I earned my college degree and developed more of those relationships). I can only hope to be as generous as he was to me, and certainly to all of you.
In my last moments getting to talk to him, knowing that it would probably be the last conversation I would ever have with him, he told me things that he had often said to me:
“Take advantage of everything. Do the things that turn you on. You’re doing things you enjoy doing, and that’s great. You’re so fortunate having such a loving, caring, mom and dad, brother, sister, wife, grandpa. You know, I love you and I am just so proud of you and I am just so happy you are doing the things that you really enjoy doing.
You are very fortunate…very, very fortunate…being surrounded by the love that you’re surrounded by. And of course you know you return that and you exude that and it’s just great to…I just love…it’s great to just be able to call you my grandson.”
To say I felt the same way about calling him my grandfather is an understatement. I am a lucky man.
We chatted about those deeper things that night and then we went to talking about what I did during that day while he had some client meetings at the office. (By the way, who has client meetings until they are 86?!?)
When I first heard the news that he passed away, I called my wife, Lacey, and shared with her that he had gone on. One of the first things she said to me was “Patrick, he can hear everything now.”
What a great reason today to slow down and celebrate the God who gave us salvation, eternal life and Grandpa Dodd.