When I was out in California this week, I talked with my nephew. I am not sure if he is in Junior High or High School. We talked about an inheritance his grandfather had desired for him to receive, an inheritance not of money but of character traits and examples that had come from his grandfather’s life. It was an excellent conversation. Now at home, after dinner tonight I asked my family about the inheritance they received from their grandfather, Papa Don.
I asked our older kids, Katie, Daniel, Jacob and Trina, to think about getting a ten million dollar inheritance from their grandfather’s estate. — Pretend he was a multi-millionaire and he left you a lot of money. Think about how you might be really excited and how so much money might change your life, what you would do and what you would get. — Then, I said something like, Oops, I meant your inheritance is worth more than ten million dollars. Think of character traits or other aspects that you have gained from Papa Don that would be part of his inheritance to you.
Katie, who has just finished her first two years in college, mentioned her Psychology degree and the PhD she is pursuing. Many people talk about how hard it is to get in the program at the university and then how difficult it is to make anything of the degree. And she said she felt her inheritance from Papa Don was the ambition to go for it and become excellent in her field. Papa Don entered a tough and competitive field and may not have started as the best but he became the best. He had an ambition and pursued his dream, accomplishing excellence in his highly competitive field. And he made it! Katie felt that this ambition was her inheritance from Papa Don. By the way, Katie just got her grades from this last semester… she got straight A’s. I think she has been really blessed by her inheritance.
Daniel, who is graduating high school this year, mentioned how Papa Don could really enjoy and savor life. How he enjoyed good wine and other nice things life has to offer. Some people get ruined or stuck-up when they have nice things. But Papa Don was able to humbly enjoy what he had. It reminded us of what Jesus said about his coming that we might have life abundantly. Papa Don had an awareness of the eternal and abundant life God had given and he really enjoyed it. Daniel remembered how his grandfather could really enjoy and savor the blessings God gave in this life.
My wife Kelly mentioned how her inheritance from her dad was the relationship with him where he would receive a phone call from her as though it was the best thing that had happened to him all week. She told how he would receive her when she was a little girl, even when there were very important executives meeting with him. (She mentioned one time going in to talk with her dad and the president of a record company was there. And this important person waited while she and her dad talked about whatever it was that was on her little girl heart.)
Jacob was pretty young when his grandfather died. When the news came of Papa Don’s death, Jacob went and hid under the table. And though he did not remember a lot of his grandfather, there was something that stood out. He mentioned Papa Don’s sense of humor and his laugh. We talked about how Papa Don had a great laugh that always lit up the room and made you feel he was laughing with you and never at you. From his laugh, you could feel in your heart a true joy that went beyond whatever funny thing you both were sharing. Jacob really enjoys telling jokes and making you smile. If God allows us to look down from heaven, I think Don often smiles at Jacob’s jokes.
My daughter Trina was too young to have any specific memory. So we recalled with her the time we were all at Disneyland. Papa Don had Trina on his wheelchair and took her to the front of the crowd at the night time festivities and parade. We remembered how all the Disney characters in the parade would come over to where they were and give her a special greeting. We concluded Trina’s inheritance was being loved and made special. I think there really is not a better inheritance than knowing somebody has really loved you and thought you were very, very special.
Our family friend Nancy McCray is staying with us and joined in our conversation. She said her inheritance from Don was the gift of his kindness and compassion. Don would listen to her and share a tear at sad things that had happened in her life. She felt understood and supported.
We talked quite awhile after everyone had finished dinner. It was such a neat time. I wish you could have known him if you didn’t and that you could have been here with us at dinner to have enjoyed hearing what each said, and the looks on our faces as we remembered back to our special times and these character traits that have become our inheritance from our dad and grandfather. Thinking about these things, we all agreed, Papa Don has indeed given the best and richest inheritance we could ever have received!
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