Saturday, August 23, 2014

Grandpa's Chair

My Grandpa Lorton passed away last weekend.  I was fortunate to have decided to travel out to Ohio to visit him last Saturday.  He was having a pretty good day and was able to give me a hug and kiss, and carry on some conversation.  The following day, on Sunday, I was there near his bed when he went to heaven.  After traveling back home to tend to mid-week family duties, I went back out this weekend for the services.  I wrote a little tribute to Grandpa that I shared at his funeral this morning.  Some of my extended family asked for a copy, so I thought I would post it here.... if you've never met my Grandpa, I hope this gives you a taste of who he was and what he meant to all of us.

Grandpa’s Chair
Words Written by Bethany, Memories Shared by Many

Anyone who has stayed over at the Lorton house on Stockbridge Rd. could probably describe the location of Grandpa’s chair.  The chair itself changed over the years, but it’s position remained the same - right where Grandpa liked it - in the back corner of the living room, by the window, with a nice view of the TV.  And usually the remnants of a newspaper close by.  Nobody else really sat in Grandpa’s chair… we all knew it was HIS chair… an unspoken rule of sorts.  If you wanted to find Grandpa - the chair was one of the first places to look!   

I took a picture of that chair last weekend. Grandpa was no longer sitting in it, but it sort of felt like a piece of him, left behind.  I could almost still see the indentation in the cushion from where he so often sat.   Although all of us at the house knew that Grandpa would no longer need us to reserve that seat for him, the chair stayed empty for awhile.  Whether consciously or unconsciously, we just left it open.  Although a chair is just a chair, that one just wasn’t quite the same without Grandpa sitting in it.  And we all knew it.  

Just as Grandpa was the only person who could sit in that spot, he also filled a “spot” in our lives that nobody else could fill (or will fill).  The Bible teaches that each of us is made unique, that we are God’s workmanship, made to do good works that He prepared for us to do.  We each have a purpose for being on this earth, a certain calling to fulfill, certain lives to touch.  My Grandpa undoubtedly played a unique role during his time here with us - he walked a path of life that God carved out just for him.  And he walked it well.  

Grandpa was an employee of Caterpillar, a member of a church, a purple heart recipient, served in the US Army, he was a softball player and coach, a golfer, a woodworker, a sports fan, a dancing partner (of Grandma’s), a hat-wearer, a fixer of anything that broke, and much more. He was also a son, a husband, a brother, an uncle, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, and a friend to many.  

To me, he was my Grandpa.  

He was a Grandpa who you knew could never say “no” to giving you money to go to the frozen yogurt store up the street with your siblings and cousins.  And even though you assured him you could walk there and back on your own, he always followed a few minutes behind… making sure we were okay (though he pawned it off by saying he just wanted yogurt too.)  He was a Grandpa who one summer stood under the big climbing tree in the backyard while us grandkids would race up to the tippy top - reminding us to “be careful” - only to have cut off all the low branches by the next summer just to ensure that we would be (much to our dismay!).  He was a Grandpa who pushed us high on the tire swing, set-up tetherball in the backyard, played wiffle ball, badminton, and horseshoes with us.  He pumped air into the tires of the old bikes in the garage so we could ride them around the neighborhood.  He played pool with us in the basement, and built us many creations down there - signs, stools, doll beds, bus frames, and more.  

He was a Grandpa who always called me, “Bessy.”
And never ceased to have a kind and encouraging word to offer.  

I am thankful God blessed me with such a loving Grandpa, who filled a place in my life that only he was meant to fill - and I’m sure we can all say the same though he touched us all in different ways.  

Grandpa’s chair still sits in the house… he doesn’t need it anymore :)  Though he left an indentation on the chair cushion, a chair is still just a chair, and his is now left for others to leave their marks on.  But the permanent mark he left on each of our lives will never be replaced by another.  And that is the reason he is so dearly missed.  I am thankful to have had many years of memories of my Grandpa, which will stay with me until the day I join him in heaven.  And I know where to look for him when I get there… possibly on the golf course, possibly in a fishing boat, but most likely watching the game or reading the paper - in his new (and likely improved) chair.

In Loving Memory of “Grandpa” John L. Lorton 
(May 5, 1930 - August 17, 2014)