I never knew a grandfather. My mother’s dad was killed in a hunting accident when my mother was six-years-old. That was 1934. She barely knew him. I never had the chance. My father’s dad also died a violent death. He was City Marshal in Lake Village, Arkansas, when he answered a disturbance call in a local café to deal with a man who was drunk and disorderly. Tragically, he was also armed. He shot and killed my granddaddy on the spot. That happened in 1928. My dad was only 14 at the time.
On the way back from the beach, Dayna and I passed through Lake Village, Arkansas. That’s where my dad’s family settled in the 1920s when they left the farm in Union Church, Mississippi. My grandfather and grandmother are buried there—as is the uncle for whom I’m named. I’ve passed through Lake Village a few times across the years, but I never visited the cemetery. This time I did. I wanted to visit my granddaddy’s grave. I’ve visited the grave of my mother’s father numerous times. My mother is buried in the same family plot. But I’d never visited the grave of my Granddaddy Samuel Tucker McCallum.
Dayna and I made the short drive to the local cemetery though we had no idea where his grave was. We figured it would be in the oldest part of the cemetery. We weren’t there two minutes till Dayna spotted it. We walked to the graves and stood over them. I took a couple of pictures.
I so wish I had known him. He was obviously a man who loved his family and his community. He was a man of courage and a man of faith. I share his name. But I never met him. Never heard his voice. Never felt his touch. Never sat in his lap. All I know of him is what I learned from his six children.
My life has been diminished, I think, because I never knew him. My father had his issues, and once my parents were divorced we didn’t see him much for the rest of his life. It would have been nice to have had a positive male role model in my life. A grandfather would have fit the bill nicely. But it wasn’t to be.
I have two consolations in this matter. First, God has given me the pleasure of being granddaddy to seven grandchildren. No one is going to vote me “Grandfather of the Year,” but I think I add to the quality of my grandchildren’s lives. They surely add to the quality of mine. I was never grandfathered, but I’ve had the opportunity to grandfather my grandkids. I’ve enjoyed that experience from one side anyway. That’s a consolation.
And so is this. My grandfather is a believer. He loved Jesus and trusted him for salvation. He is with Jesus now. And when it comes my time to join him on the other side, I will have plenty of time to get to know him. There are many on the other side I so look forward to seeing again. Strange that I may look most forward to meeting a man I never saw for the first time. Right now, that meeting feels a little awkward, but in that moment, it will probably feel as comfortable as a feather bed. That’s a consolation too.
Granddaddy, I never knew ye. But because of what Jesus has done for us both, because of his death and resurrection, and because Jesus is the resurrection and the life, that’s going to change. I’ll be too big to sit in your lap, but I look forward to hearing your stories and sharing with you how your faith continued to thrive in the generations that followed you. I hope you’ll feel like I carried your name well—your two names actually: McCallum and Christian.