“Sugar,” he said, his Kentucky accent flooding my heart with warmth, his serious expression straightening my posture, “Never forget your roots. Never go so far that you can’t remember how you got to where you are.”
My granddaddy was a man of few words. But man could he say a lot in those words.
I adored my granddad. I once told him that, to my little girl mind, he was the perfect mix of Superman and Santa Claus. He had a quick wit, a quicker laugh, and a fierce love for his family. He was the kind of man who could share with you wise counsel and then make a joke about bodily functions. He gave the best hugs and could make anything from wood.
Fifteen years ago today I said goodbye for now to my precious granddaddy. And yet all these years later, his words to me about roots that day in his living room in FL still echo through my heart and mind.
We had been joking about something. And then I had shared that I was thinking about becoming a doctor. He told me that he knew I would make a great doctor; that I could in fact do anything I set my mind to. But then he turned serious. His eyes fixed on mine. I could feel the charge in the air as he urged me to remember my roots. I will confess to being a bit confused at the time. Why had he become so serious? And what did me wanting to be a doctor have to do with my roots? And what the heck were these roots anyway?
Granddaddy didn’t expand, and I didn’t ask. He didn’t explain, and I didn’t question. I simply agreed and we fell back into our light banter. But his words had become a seed buried deep into the soil of my heart. A seed that would quietly grow for many years, until it’s roots made their way to my consciousness. A seed sown by God, who happened to use my Granddad to speak the seed into existence.
I never did become a doctor—but given my aversion to blood, I don’t think my was surprised! But I did move away from home. And I did end up doing something harder than I ever thought I could do. And now as I sit just on the other side of my life becoming very different for a few months with JOEY getting ready to launch. I find myself reflecting a lot on Granddaddy’s words that day. And I can’t help but picture a tree, whose branches are stretching toward the sun, whose leaves are being blown by changing winds, and whose roots are holding it firmly to the ground.
Roots of faith in God’s Word and in His strength.
Roots of family and friends.
Roots of experience and education.
Roots of both precious and painful memories, both of which have served to shape the way I see this world and the way I try to love people.
And the roots of those who have loved me enough to speak loving truth into my life.
I so wish that Granddaddy could have lived long enough to know my kids—oh how he would have loved them. (although he did live long enough to meet my son—something that I had begged God to allow, and will never be able to thank Him enough for granting. Granddaddy died hours after meeting my son).
I also wish that he could be there the day I launch my first book. (in fact, one Christmas I gave him the very first—and painfully bad—book I had ever written. It was a story about our dogs. I just printed it off my computer and stuck it in a document folder, but he acted like I had given him a Pulitzer Price winning book!) He was always so proud of his family!
But while my eyes crave seeing his smiling face at the launch party, my heart knows that he will be there. For my heart feels the roots of his love wrapped tightly around me—intertwining with the root of my faith in God—and holding me steadfast and firm.
Have you ever thought about your roots? What holds you in place when the winds of this life blow fierce? Maybe today take a minute to ponder your own roots and ask God to help you strengthen the roots of others. And if you happen to still have your Granddaddy with you, would you give him hug for me?
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes….” Jeremiah 17:7