My Grandfather’s Passing (Hope in Death?)


peep-paul-dance-2Today is the sixth anniversary of my Grandfather’s death. I am reposting this reflection I wrote at the time.

This past Sunday, the day after Christmas, I watched my grandfather die. This is the first death I’ve experienced of someone very close to me. I’ve known people who had died, sure, but no one as close as this.

This man walked with me and I with him for my entire life. I sat on his knee and was tickled by his hands. I grew up hearing legends about him, and I walked in a general sense of awe and disbelief when in his presence.

His name was (is?) Lester Travis Williamson, or as I knew him for most my life: Peep (a mispronunciation due to the first grandchild’s toddler lisp).

Peep represented for me a tenacity and determinedness of love that great stories of tragedy and triumph are built upon. As their old pastor said during the funeral, he was a man that if you asked for a crumb would give you the entire loaf and then chase you out the door to give you another loaf for the road.

But this is not to be confused with the contemporary pictures of the sentimental, gratuitously giving man–cheerful, talkative, jocular, and always-optimistic. If Peep was anything, he was the quintessential man of his generation–America’s vision of a “real man”–quiet, determined, and strong. He spoke with intention in every syllable, meaning what he said and saying what he meant.

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My Grandfather’s Passing (Hope in Death?)


This past Sunday, the day after Christmas, I more or less watched my grandfather die (he managed to go at the one moment when no one was actually looking, just like he had hoped). This is the first death I’ve ever experienced of someone very close to me. Sure, I’ve known regular customers at jobs of mine who had passed, several old high school friends who were in car accidents, and a few people I briefly became close to in college who later died. But this was the first person that had walked with me (and I with them) for my entire life; on whose knee I had sat, been tickled by, heard legends about, and around whom I walked in a general sense of awe and disbelief.

His name was (is?) Lester Travis Williamson, or as I knew him for most my life: Peep (the result of a mispronunciation of the original attempted nickname by the first grandchild of the family). He represented for me a tenacity and determinedness of love that great stories of tragedy and triumph are built upon. As their old pastor said today during the funeral, he was a man that if you asked for a crumb would give you the entire loaf. Further, he would chase you out the door to give you another loaf on your way out. But this is not to be confused with the contemporary pictures of the gratuitously giving man we have today–cheerful, talkative, jocular, and always-optimistic. To be sure, he was the quintessential man of his generation–a “real man”–quiet, determined, and strong. He spoke with passion and intentionality in every syllable, meaning what he said and saying what he meant; he wasted no words for trivial things (except for maybe sports).
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