Our dad’s maternal grandfather was also alive then, tall and sturdy in his 80s. All 3 of our living great-grandparents were larger-than-life figures for my brother and I as boys, if only because their lives were that much larger than ours. Our several maternal cousins had our maternal grandmother sewing us all pajamas and knitting us all slippers, but they didn’t have great-grandparents.
Our maternal grandfather was wonderful with kids—he could make a whistle out of a green twig with his penknife. He was a used-car salesman whose favorite scripture to quote was, “He was a stranger, and I took him in.” (Cousin Eric’s now is “Thou art the man.”)
My brother once let drop the word “unfair” with our paternal grandmother, and just like that she had nothing else to do except to find out how exactly he thought she’d been unfair. She never had any more trouble with us after that—which other grownup did we know, who took us that seriously?
They were all resolutely kind and considerate people—not just reliably polite and cooperative, though they were that too—who had opened their hearts to Bible stories as children, knew the Bible for themselves as adults and quoted conversationally in fluent Elizabethan from the King James second edition. They fostered happy childhoods, conscientious work, common sense and literacy, not necessarily in that order. For me, walking with Jesus every day is based on representing for my grandparents and great-grandparents in today’s world.
— Kent Wittrup, written 2/19/16