It’s really too bad grandpa isn’t here today. I know for a fact he could do a better job giving a nice prayer on behalf of himself than any one of us. It might be a little long-winded, but it would be eloquent and appropriate. I know because I’ve seen him do it a thousand times at Thanksgiving. Although, I suppose for once it wouldn’t end with, “Come Lord Jesus, best our guest. Let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.”
However, since he is not here with us, I will try to say a little prayer for him in my own way.
Life is linear. Each of us is like a horizontal line on a plane, our lives stretching across the axis of time, and each line has two endpoints. My line ran parallel with grandpa’s line for only 20 years, which really in the grand scheme of things, is a very small slice of time. I want to thank him for being there at my first endpoint, to baptize me and bring me into this world.
I also want to thank him for teaching me something very valuable in our 20 parallel years: sometimes it’s okay to be stubborn as heck. Being stubborn means sticking to your convictions, Grandpa Schoewe-style. It means standing on the mantle belting out Christmas carols at the top of your lungs, even if you get most of the notes wrong. It means sticking your head in the snow and building a snowman at 75 with the childlike spirit of a 10-year-old. It means doing all of this and not caring how anyone else will respond, because you are being true to yourself.
Ironically, the stubbornness I learned from grandpa may have backfired on him. There is one thing I never admitted to anybody, not even grandma (even though I’m pretty sure she asked me point blank about it.) So, grandpa, I need to clear my conscious and confess one last thing to you, now that you have reached your second endpoint. It was I who stole your pipe and threw it in the trashcan as a kid. I was persistent and stubborn and used to hide your pipe from you, and one time I threw it away. I’m sorry. I wanted what was best for your health. I was too stubborn to understand anything, save my conviction that smoking was bad.
That’s what you get, though, because you taught me to be this way, and it’s a good thing. Especially in these first 20 years along my line, when people and peers have constantly pulled me in all different directions. The truth is, no one should be coerced into being a sloped vector, and my line has continued to stretch forward strong and independently, just like yours did. Thank you for showing me that it’s okay to do my own thing, to keep my head down and stick to my gut and live the way I want to live. Hey, that it’s even okay stick my head in the snow if I want to.
I won’t forget you and your admirable headstrong ways. I hope they have a nice pipe for you up in heaven. Amen.