Yesterday was my Grandpa's memorial service.  I really wasn't looking forward to it but 
 the day came anyway.  
As I rushed to get kids dressed, ironed little boy shirts and dug through drawers for little girl tights, 
I tried to stuff it down.
As I looked over the pictures posted on the walls, and sung "Great is Thy Faithfulness" ...I fought to keep it in.  Little bits overflowed into my eyes  and dripped out my nose, it stung my throat, and it made me feel like my heart was in a lime squeeze...but I breathe deep.  In and out.  Blink it back.  Hold it in until my head hurts from the effort.  A gentle socially acceptable dabbing of the eyes while deep inside me broke a keening wail.  Sack cloth and ashes.  A flood of tears that if unleashed would be entirely embarrassing and just might never end. 

My Grandpa was a lot of things to a lot of people.  A son, a brother, a husband, a dad, a grandpa and great grandpa.  An uncle, a cousin and a friend.  They all new him as a man who was full of charisma, and life, and ambition.  He worked the land, he loved to sing, he loved his family, and he loves Jesus.  

I just knew him as Grandpa.
Larger than life, throwing me up to the sky, arms wrapped around me making me feel safe Grandpa.

{Violet and Lawrence Wallis - married for 64 years.}

{I think my Grandpa and Grandma look like 1940's movie stars in this picture}

He had five strapping brothers and one little sister, and was the last one living.  My grandpa is the boy furthest to the right in the above photo.  One of his brothers, the one closest to him in age and his childhood playmate, was killed by lightening as a young boy while out working in the field.    

This is my absolute favorite picture of them.  I like it because this is exactly how I knew them.  My Grandpa in his greasy coveralls, my Grandma in her flowered dress and the striped sweater she wore for years.  This is the house that I spent so much of my childhood in.  In fact my husband and I even lived in their basement for the first year of our marriage. 

Growing up I lived only a few miles from them, close enough I could ride my bike to their house at the farm.   My Dad spent his days feeding cows in this farm yard, as a teenager I joined the seasonal work crew, and later my husband joined the Wallis farm as well.  So much of my life is here...with them. 

I loved to stay over and spend the night, and sometimes even go on little trips with them.  I remember being a tiny little girl and crawling into their bed..squeezing myself right in between them.  They never kicked me out.  When I woke up I would always find Grandpa sitting at the breakfast table with his bowl of steaming cooked grain porridge, and the smell of toast in the air, reading his worn edged Bible.  I can picture his gigantic farmer hands, permanently marred and scarred by years of hard work, folded in prayer.   
That left it's mark on me.
I loved his hands.  I even love that he was missing two of his fingers.  As a little girl, he would let me play with the "tree stumps" left where his fingers once were before grain auger got to them. 

One time when I had been too mischievous I felt that giant hand across my rear end.  

He was as strong as an oak, and nearly as tall.  

 I used to pretend I liked watching hockey on the TV just so I could curl up on his lap in his big armchair. 

A couple months before his death, I scooted a metal hospital chair up next to his wheelchair and sat knee to knee with him.  I held his frail hands in mine and ran my hands over his fingers  like I have since I was a child.  He could no longer walk, or hear my words, but he smiled and told me how happy he was that I was there to sit with him...so we sat, for hours we sat.  He ate cherries, and I caught the pits. He ate his lunch on the tray.  I assured him that I didn't need any of his potatoes or jello and that I would eat later.  Before I left he folded my hands into his and we prayed.   He struggled to hear my words, and he struggled to find his words...but Jesus heard us both.   

As he lay dying, after yet another stroke, I held his hand in mine once again and said goodbye.  His eyes opened and he knew.  He couldn't make words, but he looked at me and said goodbye with his eyes.  I knew better things were coming very soon for him.  

In the last years of his life he talked a lot about wanting a "legacy".  Maybe because he had spent so much of his life working, building up the farm, and saving money... and then realized that those things are ultimately temporal.   I'm not quite sure what sparked legacy obsession toward the end of his life.  I guess looming mortality puts things into perspective.

Beyond working a farm that is now 100 years old, and that is still being worked by his son and grand son-in-law....he has another legacy that will last.

He has 3 children,  12 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren. 

He has passed on his love of music and singing.  
He has passed on his physical features, height and strength.  

Even buttermilk.

{Roman taking part in a "buttermilk toast" in honor of Grandpa's regular consumption of buttermilk.} 

He passed on his love of Jesus, and a life lived joyfully embracing God's amazing grace.  

He may have even passed on his over-zealous ambition and accident prone-ness.

Grandpa your legacy lives on. 
I see your life and humor in these two little boys.

and their future looks bright.

As hard as the day was, it really was great to get together with so many extended family, and friends and all my siblings and their kids.

My Mom and Dad (Lawrence's only son) and their 6 "kids".  

One branch of grandpa's family tree...with lots of new little twigs.

I'm really going to miss you Grandpa.  
You were a blessing to so many people and I am so thankful to have had a Grandpa like you.  You have taught me so much through your humble, God fearing, hard working, church singing, friend embracing, family-man life.  
I smile when I think of you singing with the angels and saints before the throne of our King Jesus. 

Until we meet again...
I love you. 

"When I go, don't cry for me

In my Father's arms I'll be

The wounds this world left on my soul

Will all be healed and I'll be whole.

Sun and moon will be replaced

With the light of Jesus' face

And I will not be ashamed

For my Savior knows my name.

It don't matter where you bury me,

I'll be home and I'll be free.

It don't matter where I lay,

All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye

Temporary riches lie

Come and eat from heaven's store,

Come and drink, and thirst no more

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again."


Sherri Davidson said...


Marcy P said...

That was a beautiful tribute to a man that followed God and left that legacy for you to see, enjoy and talk about. That's awesome! I loved seeing the old pics with the new. YOu explained his life so well, I feel I knew him just a little bit.