I never met my grandfather, but I’ve always loved him.
When I was young, I’d look at pictures of him and imagine what it would be like to have a grandfather. I’d listen to Mom’s stories of Sunday afternoons at Crescent Park riding the carousel and special daddy/daughter dates. I dreamed of a tenderhearted man who would listen to whatever was on my heart and always feed me ice cream.
Because my grandfather died before I was born, all I have of him are a few photographs and my dreams. Last month, when I visited my hometown, I stopped by the place I always associate with my grandfather—an old stone wall on Silver Creek.
Sixty-five years ago, as a birthday surprise, my grandfather walked my mother down to this spot not far from their home. He wanted to do something to commemorate her special day. Reaching into his pocket, he took out a handful of tiny white stones. He uncovered the mysterious bucket he’d carried with them and took out a trowel.
While she looked on curiously, he scooped soft cement from the bucket and ladled it in between the stones on top of the wall. He smoothed the edges, blending them into the surrounding concrete. Then, one by one, he gently placed the little white stones just so.
My mom, fascinated by his handiwork, watched her initials form under his careful hand. After he pressed the last stone into its soft setting, he stood back to admire his work.
“There you go, Lillie,” he said, waving his hand with a proud flourish. “Happy birthday.” He wrapped her in his arms and hugged her tightly. “No matter how many birthdays you have, I hope you’ll always remember this one here with me.”
I loved to hear my mother tell this story. Oftentimes, walking home from the corner store, I’d leave the sidewalk and trek across the grass to that magical spot on the wall. Because my first and middle initials are the same as my mother’s, I’d sometimes pretend that they were my initials, and that my grandfather had placed them there for me. I longed for a similarly permanent tribute to my existence.
This longing to be immortalized is common to mankind. We yearn for proof that the world is different because we’ve been in it.
The apostle Paul felt this desire as he wrote to the Corinthian church. He acknowledged he’d never have a statue dedicated in his honor or a highway named after him. Instead, he reminded his beloved converts that they were his memorial.
“You are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:3).
Paul’s words remind me that the greatest tribute I can leave behind is a life well-lived for the cause of Christ. The best treasure I can acquire isn’t gold and silver or accolades and accomplishments. My highest goal can and should be the privilege of impacting the world for Jesus.
Lord, lift my eyes from temporary man made stones to the tablets of human hearts. May the people I touch be changed for your glory and their good.
What about you? Do you wonder sometimes if your life is making a difference? How do you hope to be remembered after you die? I invite you to leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
If you missed the other posts in the Going Home series, here are the links:
"There's Something Magical about Going Home"
"Going Home, Part II, Family"
"Going Home, Part III, Food"
"Going Home, Part IV, Faith"