My grandparents lived down the street from us. Their house was a wonder to my small heart. It had four levels. FOUR! Well, the master suite was it’s own, but still, what a wonder. The entire length of the living room looked out over the lake we lived on. Huge windows let the morning light in and warmed the giant room. The magnificent rock fireplace reached to the ceiling. A beast of an organ nestled up against one wall. Granny’s dazzled me as she could do both levels of keys with her hands and the foot pedals… and sing. I can still hear it pop on as she fired it up. I have no idea what happened to it. Some of her piano books are safely tucked in my music drawers.
In the mornings, Granny would make coffee wearing her everyday dress always sort of cinched up under her boobs. I even remember her putting on pantyhose in that oh-so not lady like fashion of hiking one leg up and out while pulling, and then switching to the other. There was possibly a squat involved, but I can’t remember everything (or I’ve blocked it out.) Then she’d make her way to the kitchen to do Granny things and make food appear. Magical.
In the breakfast room, Granddad would have pinwheel donuts with me in the orange chairs from the 50′s that swiveled. The ball bearings played a fun little tune back and forth. Legs dangling. Smiling up at that sweet old man face. I see that face in my dad now. We shared donuts and bright mornings looking at the sun dance on the lake.
In the living room, they had a grandfather clock. Always ticking. Always striking on the hour, quarter hour, half hour, three-quarter hour. When the entire family was there, the clock was drowned out by laughter and games. But, when we kids would stay with Granny and Granddad while Dad and Mom went who knows where, that clock’s ticking filled the quiet space through the living room. When all was still, that clock went on ticking. Something now in me doesn’t like the sound of a ticking clock. It’s a reminder that time is fading and dying. A reminder of a house left without grandparents. A reminder that life flies by and, at time, when you hear the ticking, it means all the party is gone and so are the people. It’s boring. It’s over.
Even now, at my parent’s house, when I’m there visiting, I’ll stop the clock in their living room if I happen to be there alone. Too much attached to a house I once loved down the lake. A house someone else owns.
Inevitably, any time I think about time moving on, I always hear DC Talk singing “TIME IS TICKIN’ AWAY! TICK TICK TICKIN’ AWAY!” (I’m a 38 year old grew-up-in-the-church girl). But, it’s true. Time is ticking away.
My grandparents have been dead for 25 years after a plane crash in 1986. His voice, her sewing room, and air in their house is as fresh in me as the last day I saw them. Even now, the lump in my throat threatens to over take me.
Would they have guessed their son (my dad) would have raised three kids to love Jesus? Would they have ever know he was going to build chapels for prisons and military bases? Would they have dreamed their grandson works with a ministry serving the people of India? Would they have wondered that all their great-grandchildren would claim the name of Jesus before the age of 12? Would they have imagined their granddaughter marrying a pastor or the other granddaughter adopting an Ethiopian girl?
Did they ever consider what their descendants would do?
When their plane went down, my mom was in their house. She happen to go down there for some reason, let herself in, sat on the couch with something to drink, flipped through some photographs while the ticking of that grandfather clock kept her company. At the time they were meeting Jesus, she was remembering some good times. Their daughter-in-law, loving them as they died, and neither knew it.
What a legacy.
My mom’s love, their love, my dad’s love. This is what makes my children’s love.
What you do now matters many generations from now.
I wonder. Do I live a life that would cause a massive ripple effect on my generations to come if I were to die in a plane crash today?
Do I think about those grandchildren and great-grandchildren? You bet I do. I know what it means to look back at my family tree and I honor what they did and how they lived (and live) by making sure I teach and love my kids the same way.
The clock ticks. Nothing stops it. But I know for sure, those sweet summer days on the floor of their living room was more thank just a good time at Granny’s house. We were building a legacy… and neither knew it.