Yesterday, someone asked me, “If you had the ability to go back in time and relive any day of your life, what day would you choose?” At first, I really did not know what to say, but the thought stayed with me for the remainder of the day. I thought about the ups and downs of my life, the good days and bad, the struggles, triumphs, and the regrets. I thought about the wrongs I could make right and the times that I wish that I had made a better decision, but none of those thoughts seemed to answer the question adequately. The answer finally came to me this morning as I sat down in front of my computer. It did not come from the blinking cursor on my laptop screen; instead it came from just beyond its’ glow.
Hanging on the wall opposite from my desk is a picture of my grandfather, dressed in his Army uniform. He could not have been more than thirty years old in that picture. He was strong, handsome, and possessed a kind and captivating smile. Grandpa served in World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic actions following the Battle of Normandy in 1944. He never told me that because he did not like to talk about the war or himself for that matter. I only found out about it after he passed away at the age of ninety-five. Grandpa did not like to talk about his personal achievements, of which he had many, because he prided himself on being a humble, gracious, and unpretentious person. He was always more interested in learning about others than talking about himself or boasting of his achievements.
His humility was due in part to his personality, but I always believed that it had more to do with an intentional pursuit to display the proper spiritual example for his children and grandchildren. My grandfather was the most spiritual person I have ever known and I cannot remember a single day of his life that he did not spend time with God. Most of his advice, no matter the subject, was backed up by the words found in scripture. He was a mighty spiritual mentor not only to me, but also to everyone around him. I did not realize how blessed I was to have grown up with a grandpa like him, until he was no longer here. He taught me about God, life, and friendship. I spent thousands of days with him talking, laughing, fishing, gardening, and playing the guitar. No matter how busy he might have been, grandpa always took the time to sit down and talk with me.
As I grew up and moved away, I never lost touch with him. Even well into my adulthood, I would call him weekly just to hear his voice or to ask him for advice. I will never forget the night that I received the phone call from my mom telling me that grandpa had been rushed to the hospital and that he did not have much time. I boarded a plane the next morning not only to see him once last time, but to tell him exactly what he meant to me and of the impact that he had on my life. I made it to the hospital that day and God let him stay with us just long enough for me to express my gratitude for the example that he had set for me and the love that he so freely gave. It has been five years since he passed away. There is not a single day that goes by that I do not think of him and thank God for that man.
So if I had the ability to go back and live one day of my past over again, what day would it be? I could choose any one of those days under the shade of that big pear tree, or walking side-by-side down those long rows of corn. Maybe it would be the day he taught me how to play the guitar or one where we sat and talked on that rickety front porch swing. We could take that old dirt road into town one more time to buy those candies that he loved or maybe some paint for that old shed in the backyard. The time or place really would not matter to me, as long as it was one more day with grandpa.